Five of the most common chronic health problems seen in dogs
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Five of the most common chronic health problems seen in dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Virtually every canine health condition that you can think of, large or small, ranging from a simple cold to more serious things like heart failure can be divided down into two broad categories based on their action: acute, and chronic.

An acute problem is one that is fast in onset and will often appear fairly pronounced quickly and without giving you much prior warning that something is wrong, while a chronic problem is one that tends to develop gradually, be slower in onset, and often, will take longer to resolve or be prone to bouts of recurrences.

Chronic problems are related to hereditary or conformation issues more often than acute problems are, and they are also more commonly seen in mature and elderly dogs, as their bodily systems begin the slow shut down towards the end of their lives. While there is no way to predict for sure if your dog will ever suffer from such a problem, vets and animal researchers have identified certain chronic conditions that occur within dogs at a much higher incidence rate than most other chronic conditions, and as such, it is a good idea for all dog owners to learn a little bit about them.

Read on to learn more about five of the most common chronic health problems seen in dogs.

1. Skin allergies

Skin problems in their various different guises are overall one of the most commonly diagnosed chronic health conditions that can affect dogs, and skin conditions or skin problems can involve a wide range of different issues, from acne to fatty lipomas to dermatitis to psoriasis to allergies and much more besides.

If your dog is allergic to something in their food or their environment, this will almost certainly manifest with a range of symptoms that are systemic, or affect several parts of the body at once, and the skin is one of the main areas that will often suffer from flare-ups. Immune-mediated conditions such as psoriasis and a propensity to developing fatty cysts due to hormonal issues or a poor diet are also relatively common in the dog, and given the sheer number of different conditions that can start with the skin or manifest as a skin problem and recur time and time again when the circumstances are right, it is no wonder that this is one of the most common of all diagnosed chronic canine conditions.

2. Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints, and one that is often associated with old age. Not all forms of arthritis are chronic, but the most common ones to affect the dog such as osteoarthritis are, and arthritis cannot be either reversed or cured, and treatment and management of the condition depends on easing the associated pain and inflammation of the condition, and keeping the dog comfortable.

Arthritis can develop in any joint of the body, and is particularly likely to occur at the site of an old injury. However, arthritis can also occur simply as an effect of aging as the bones and joints lose some of their suppleness and ability to move freely, and most dogs afflicted with the condition will go through bouts of flare-ups of the condition in between periods of relative comfort.

3. Cancer

Cancer is of course a huge, catch-all title that is used to describe hundreds of different types of specific problems and diseases, and which can affect virtually any part of the body. A dog’s chances of developing cancer increase exponentially each year as they age, but cancer of various forms can of course affect dogs of any age, and only in rare cases can a definitive underlying cause be identified.

Cancer is of course a chronic condition that develops slowly over time, but it can take quite a while before the symptoms of cancer become apparent, and prompt the owner to get them looked into. Symptoms too can vary considerably, but if your dog is losing weight for no obvious reason, has unexplained lumps and bumps on their bodies, appears to be losing their energy and lust for life or otherwise appears not quite right, it is important to get them checked out by your vet ASAP.

4. Urinary tract issues

Problems with the urinary tract such as recurrent bladder infections, kidney stones, cystitis and painful or overly frequent urination are very common problems in the dog, and for most such conditions, a dog that has been affected by them once will be more likely to suffer from recurrences or further flare-ups in the future.

Some such conditions such as stone and crystal formation require special ongoing care, such as a prescription diet and fluid therapy, and these as well as other urinary conditions may be more apt to flare up when your dog is feeling generally under the weather or their immune system is otherwise compromised.

5. Ear infections or mites

Certain breeds and types of dogs, most commonly those with long, floppy ears like the Basset Hound or the Afghan Hound are particularly prone to ear problems, as the shape and size of their ear effectively restricts the air circulation within the ear, providing an ideal environment for bacteria and fungus to grow. Scrupulous care must be taken to keep the ears of such breeds clean and dry to prevent infections and other problems from occurring time and again, and if your dog has developed an ear infection once, they will be more likely to develop one again in the future!

Ear mites too, while rather different, are another chronic ear problem, which some dogs seem to pick up time and time again. However, this is sometimes due to the fact that it is very difficult to completely cure an ear mite infestation, and so sometimes, you might think that your dog’s mites have been cleared as the dog gets better, when in fact a small number of mites remain, which over time, reproduce and begin the cycle all over again.

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