Preventing Common Health Issues in Dogs: Tips for Maintaining Their Well-being

Posted by Jackie Ly on

a dog lying down, being examined with a stethoscope


Table of Contents

The Difference Between Healthspan and Lifespan

10 Common Health Issues in Dogs and How to Prevent Them

Why Take a Preventative Approach to Dog Health Care?

Essential Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy


Dogs are naturally bright and loving animals. They bring joy and fun into people’s lives and treat their owners as their whole world. However, as a dog owner, you should also be ready for their sick days. Your dog can still encounter many health issues as they live.

In this article, we’ll help you learn about the most common health issues for dogs and what you can do to prevent them. We want dog owners like you to be equipped with as much dog health care information as possible, so you know what to do to keep your pet healthy, alongside doing training.

The Difference Between Healthspan and Lifespan

Lifespan is how long a dog lives, while healthspan is how long they stay healthy, happy, and active. A healthy dog is generally free of disease or has a well-managed illness and enjoys a great quality of life. 

Typically, when your dog gets sick, you take them to the vet for treatment. But waiting for issues to arise before addressing them is an old-fashioned way of caring for your pets. 

To promote both a longer life and better health, you need to take a proactive approach. That means focusing on preventive measures rather than just treating issues as they come up. 

So, how can you ensure that your dog stays healthy and lives longer? Practise a comprehensive healthcare approach that considers all aspects of your dog's well-being.

10 Common Health Issues in Dogs and How to Prevent Them


Weight management issues can affect any breed of dog. In a study conducted by veterinary practices across Australia, it was found that 33.5% of dogs are overweight, and 7.6% are obese. Overweight or obese dogs are more likely to develop significant health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and respiratory problems. 

Common signs of obesity include:

  • You cannot see your dog’s waist when looking from above or the side. Their body should fit between their ribcage and hips
  • It's difficult to feel their ribs when you run your hands along their side
  • They have a larger, rounder face
  • They have a thick, fatty neck
  • They’re not eager to exercise
  • They find it difficult to walk
  • They go out of breath easily
  • They’re often tired or sleeps a lot

How to prevent it

Provide a balanced diet, portion control, regular exercise, and avoid overfeeding your dog  during mealtimes or with excessive treats.

Also, regular check-ups with your veterinarian will allow for routine weight evaluation of your dog, and if the veterinary team notices any weight changes, you will be informed so you can manage it as soon as possible. 

The experts will discuss any specific nutritional modifications required to get your pet back in shape, as well as the requirement for regular weight checks to ensure you are making progress. 

Gum/Dental Disease

According to an Australian Animal Oral Care research, more than 80% of dogs show signs of dental illness by the age of three. According to PerthNow, one in every four Australian owners admits to never brushing their pets' teeth.

Bacteria, food, saliva, and other particles combine immediately after your dog eats, which results in a sticky coating on their teeth called 'plaque'. Plaque can harden over time and turn into tartar. Both plaque and tartar are high in bacteria. These bacteria can cause gum disease and produce acid, which eats away at your dog's teeth, eventually resulting in cavities.

Common signs of dental issues include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pawing at the face
  • Dribbling
  • Loss of interest in food or chew toys

How to prevent it

Brushing your dog's teeth on a daily basis and giving them dental chews are two things you can do at home to help maintain their teeth healthy. Invest in rubber chew toys that will clean and strengthen their teeth. You should also have them professionally cleaned.

Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet of dental-approved hard food can also help remove and prevent plaque and tartar.

Ear Infection (otitis externa)

Waste and particles can easily accumulate and get stuck inside a dog's ear. Their long and narrow ear canals with a sharp bend halfway along make it tough for them to keep their ears clear and clean. 

Dogs with long floppy ears are more likely to catch ear infections because their ear flaps trap moisture in, creating a warm, damp environment where yeast and bacteria thrive and spread.

Common signs of ear infections include:

  • Repeatedly scratching or rubbing their ears
  • An unpleasant smell or discharge in their ears
  • Head tilting or shaking
  • Lack of balance
  • Wincing or yelling when their ears are touched

How to prevent it

There is a straightforward solution to this problem: check your dog's ears every day and clean them if there is any wax buildup. Find an ear cleaning solution and remove the wax and dirt with a moistened cotton ball. Also, make sure your dog's ears are totally dry after a bath.


Arthritis is the inflammation and swelling of joints in major stress points on your dog's body. The most common type of arthritis in dogs is osteoarthritis, which usually affects older canines. This condition worsens with time, causing extreme pain and limited mobility. 

Although not entirely preventable, there are numerous things you can do to help your dog avoid this painful and debilitating condition.

How to prevent it

Make sure you maintain a healthy weight for your dog, provide regular exercise, and consider joint supplements. 

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog is at danger of getting arthritis, they may provide several suggestions to help improve the prognosis. 

Typically, the first stage is weight loss, which can be achieved by a combination of appropriate exercise and a specialised diet. Then, your veterinarian will recommend joint supplements. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be needed to relieve pain and keep your pet active.

Skin Allergies

Dogs can become allergic to particular foods, environmental conditions, or things they come into contact with. The resulting discomfort and scratching can not only make your dog miserable and scratch constantly. Repeated scratching can irritate, inflame, and make their skin more susceptible to various illnesses. 

Symptoms include itching, redness, rashes, hair loss, and recurrent ear infections. 

How to prevent it

First, identify and avoid allergens. Then, maintain a healthy diet. Food allergies can cause more itching and scratching, so providing high-quality dog food will help. Avoid any soy-based goods, chemicals, and contaminants.

Then, practise proper hygiene. Brushing the fur every day will help to remove dander and dandruff. Bathing once a week with a gentle shampoo can also help to remove allergies from the skin.

In addition to bathing, regularly clean the areas where your dog stays to eliminate unwanted hair, dirt, and dust.

Parasites and Tick-borne Illnesses

Tick-borne infections and parasites, such as heartworm, can have major health consequences for your dog. Heartworm, fleas, and ticks are the most common parasites that infect pets. Fleas can cause serious skin irritation and even allergic responses in certain pets. 

Ticks can spread diseases that can affect your pet's entire life. Heartworm disease is one of the most serious and expensive parasite infections to cure, so heartworm prevention is important. 

The most important tick-borne diseases that affect dogs are Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis. All can have serious health consequences for dogs and many can have serious health consequences for people as well.

How to prevent it

The first tier of tick control is routine acaricide use. To be effective, acaricides must be applied to your dogs well before exposure to ticks. Find acaricide/repellent products with proven efficacy against a range of tick species.

Recognizing areas to avoid, whenever possible, will decrease the overall number of ticks that have the opportunity to attach and feed. Some tick species prefer wooded areas, while others are found in more open surroundings. Tick numbers are often greater along deer trails and other areas frequented by wildlife hosts, and in areas where deer bed down.

Infectious Diseases

There are many infectious diseases that may differ in severity, cause, and mode of transmission. Some diseases are transmitted through direct touch, respiratory droplets, soil contaminated with infected dog faeces, parasites such as ticks and fleas, and other situations produced by a variety of external and internal factors.

Some of the diseases and conditions that dogs can develop from social events include:

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine distemper
  • Canine parvovirus type 2 
  • Kennel cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • The rabies virus

How to prevent it

Visit your veterinarian on a regular basis to keep your pet up to date on vaccines. This ensures they are well protected against infectious diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. These infections can spread to other dogs and wildlife. Routine immunisation is the most effective protective measure against these diseases. 

Yearly immunisation appointments are also a great chance to discuss any other preventative care your dog might need.


Most cases of diarrhoea are not dangerous, but it's important to understand when you should contact your veterinarian and, if possible, what the reasons are. A dog's diarrhoea can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, dietary changes, and parasites. 

How to prevent it

When changing your dog's diet, do so gradually over 7 to 10 days to allow their digestive system to adjust smoothly. Avoid feeding them table scraps, fatty or greasy foods, and difficult-to-digest items like dairy. Ensure their environment is free of potential hazards by cleaning up any objects or substances they may ingest, storing items in dog-proof containers, and securing trash cans. 

Additionally, maintain cleanliness by washing your dog's bowl after every meal, particularly if they eat raw or canned food, and make it a habit to wash their bowl daily if they're on a kibble diet. Taking these precautions will help ensure your four-legged friend stays healthy and happy.

Anal sac impaction

Dogs have two small glands on either side of their bottom that create a smelly oily liquid, which enables them to recognise one another (by sniffing each other's bottoms) and mark their territory. 

Your dog's anal gland usually empties naturally when they poop, but if the gland becomes blocked, it can become infected, inflamed, and uncomfortable, causing them to scoot on their bottom to relieve the pain.

Signs of anal sac impaction include:

  • a nasty fishy smell
  • dragging or scooting their bum
  • having an uncomfortable bum
  • changes in the colour of anal gland fluid

How to prevent it

To prevent anal sac impactions, talk to your veterinarian about a nutrition plan for your dog. They may recommend that you incorporate fish oil and more dietary fibre into your dog's diet. Canned pure pumpkin, cooked fresh pumpkin, and unsalted pumpkin seeds are popular dietary additions. Read the label on the canned pumpkin to ensure there is no Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

If your dog shows signs and symptoms of an anal sac impaction, consult your veterinarian. Your vet may manually express the sacs. If an infection is detected, an antibiotic or supplement may be prescribed.


Many have experienced the devastating impact of cancer, both on their loved ones and on their beloved pets. While cancer can affect dogs regardless of their lifestyle, there are valuable insights from veterinary research. Understanding the factors contributing to cancer development in dogs, such as breed predispositions like boxers, terriers, and retrievers, helps us take preventive measures for their well-being. 

How to prevent it

Although not all types of cancer can be prevented, there are a few things you can do to help your dog avoid some types entirely. Spaying or neutering your pet as soon as safely possible is an excellent approach to lower their risk of developing cancer, particularly testicular or breast cancer. 

Furthermore, regular vet appointments enable the veterinary expert to carefully test your dog for cancer, which means that minor tumours can be treated and removed before they become life-threatening.

Why Take a Preventative Approach to Dog Health Care?

In the past, dog health issues were just seen as something unavoidable that might shorten a pup's life. However, advancements in veterinary science have changed that. Now, preventive care is crucial. It means catching problems early on and treating them before they become serious, ensuring dogs live longer and happier lives, and creating more cherished memories for their owners.

Recognizing the importance of your dogs as family members, you must be committed to providing the best care possible. Always be eager to learn about common dog health issues and how to prevent them, ensuring your pet stays safe and healthy for many years to come.

Essential Tips To Keep Your Dog Healthy

Deworming and Vaccinations

When dogs are not vaccinated, they become susceptible to a variety of unpleasant, fatal, and extremely contagious diseases.

Vaccinations and deworming can help protect your dog from:

  • Rabies
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine distemper
  • Leptospirosis
  • Canine adenovirus-2
  • Canine parainfluenza
  • Canine enteric coronavirus
  • Canine influenza
  • Lyme disease
  • Kennel cough (bordetellosis)
  • Heartworm disease
  • Intestinal worms

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Just like humans, dogs also benefit from routine visits to the vet. These check-ups allow veterinarians to monitor your dog's overall health, catch any potential issues early, and provide necessary vaccinations and preventive treatments. Early detection of health problems can significantly improve treatment outcomes and enhance your dog's quality of life.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet helps maintain your dog's health and well-being. Providing nutritious food tailored to your dog's age, size, and activity level helps support their immune system, digestive health, muscle development, and overall vitality. 

Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog and avoid feeding them foods that may be harmful, such as those high in sugar, salt, or artificial ingredients.

Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Dogs are naturally active animals that require regular exercise to stay physically fit and mentally stimulated. Daily walks, playtime, and engaging activities like puzzle toys or training sessions help prevent boredom, reduce stress, and prevent behavioural issues such as excessive barking or destructive chewing. 

Tailor your dog's exercise routine to their breed, age, and energy level to ensure they get the right amount of physical and mental stimulation.

Dental Care

Dogs can suffer from dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath if their dental hygiene is neglected. Establish a regular dental care routine for your dog, including brushing their teeth regularly with dog-friendly toothpaste and providing dental chews or toys to help clean their teeth.

Also, schedule them for professional dental cleanings with your veterinarian as needed to prevent dental issues that could lead to discomfort or more serious health problems.

Bottom Line

In summary, keeping your dog healthy is all about prevention. By making sure they're vaccinated and dewormed, seeing the vet regularly, feeding them well, keeping them active, and taking care of their teeth, you're giving them the best chance at a long, happy life by your side. 

These simple yet effective measures strengthen the bond between humans and dogs, ensuring many years of joy and companionship together!

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →




Unfortunately, Your Cart is Empty

Please Add Something in your Cart