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Unfortunately there are a lot of common conditions, which can affect our pets. Some can be prevented, others are just part of being a dog owner! In this section we've outlined some of the common conditions and some treatment and prevention tips.

Expert Answers

Our expert vet team posts answers to the more common questions. Some questions you may be interested in are :

The size of your dog usually plays a role in whether or not a joint problem is the real issue. Bigger dogs put more weight on their joints, which can do more long term damage. Treatments such as physical therapy and swimming may help to manage joint problems. If your veterinarian thinks that your dog has a joint problem, they might recommend radiographs to image the joint and see what's going on. Surgery is usually only required for more serious problems that can't be managed otherwise.

Common symptoms of food allergy are gastrointestinal upset that may include vomiting and/or diarrhea or even just soft stools, and/or skin problems with rashes and itchiness. You might notice that these signs occur when your dog eats a certain food; but then avoiding this food, the signs might not return. If you are concerned that your dog has food allergy and can't work out why, consult your veterinarian. This can be a very frustrating situation as there are no reliable tests to determine which food ingredient your dog may be reacting to.

In most cases the cause of obesity is quite simple: too much food and not enough exercise.
That being said, there are a number of factors that can also play a role.
Although dogs of any size or breed can become obese, some breeds are more susceptible to weight gain. These breeds include (among others):

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Beagles
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Daschunds
  • Pugs
  • Chihuahuas
  • Basset hounds

Obesity can also be the result of underlying medical conditions.

If you are asking yourself if your dog is obese? Visit:

Most dogs love food, so when a dog isn't eating, it usually indicates that they are not well. Veterinary attention should be sought.

Yes, very normal. A Labrador coat is very thick and dense and when they go through their seasonal shed, they lose hair in alarming amounts. If the shed is continuing for a long time or the hair seems dry or brittle, consult your veterinarian about parasite control, appropriate diet and general medical issues. All dogs shed, but not all the time.

It's important to do weekly eye checks on your dog. To give them a good look over, face them in a brightly lit area and look into their eyes. They should be clear and bright, and the area around the eyeball should be white. The pupils should be the same size, and there shouldn't be any discharge, tearing or crust in the corners of his or her eyes.

You'll also want to roll back the lower eyelid with your thumb and look at the lining to make sure it's pink, rather than red or white.

Other things to look out for include a protruding third eyelid, closed eye/s, cloudiness, and change of eye colour and tear stains on their fur around the eye.

Any dog can have smelly ears, but especially floppy-ear breeds where the ear flap covers the ear canal and traps moisture inside. On the other hand it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health disorder such as ear mites, a yeast infection or a bacterial infection. You should get your veterinarian to do a check for you. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to clean your dog's ears properly. Using Q tips for example may cause trauma and compact debris in the ear canal, making any underlying infection worse.

While heart disease is usually not curable, as a pet owner you can incorporate some simple dietary changes that when used in combination with medical therapies can ensure your dog has a good quality of life.
Sodium restriction is usually the first dietary change that is recommended for patients with heart failure because the condition tends to lead to salt and water retention. Typically, many commercial brands of pet food have relatively high salt levels. Pet treats can also be high in salt and should be avoided. Other minerals important for heart health include potassium and magnesium. It is important to supply the correct levels of these essential nutrients in the diet for optimal effect.

Protein should not be overly restricted in dogs with heart disease and the calorie content of the food needs to be appropriate to maintain your pet's ideal body weight. Excess body weight results in increased work requirements for the heart, while too little energy is also deleterious.

Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in some patients with heart disease as they may help to reduce inflammation which may ultimately reduce the risk of muscle wasting and heart rhythm abnormalities.

Whilst there are some important dietary changes you can make for your pet suffering heart disease, it is important that such changes are done in the context of providing an overall palatable and nutritionally balanced food. There are a variety of commercially available therapeutic diets available through your veterinarian, which are specifically formulated to meet all the nutritionally requirements of particular medical conditions. Speak to your veterinarian about any specific dietary changes you may need to undertake to maintain your pet's health.

This type of ear infection often involves a yeast called Malassezia. This yeast is part of the normal skin flora, but can under certain conditions, multiply and cause clinical signs of an ear infection - red, itchy ears sometimes with a discharge. Commonly, bacteria are also involved in causing the clinical signs of an ear infection. It should be noted that certain breeds are predisposed to overgrowth of Malassezia.

If you suspect that your dog has any type of ear infection, you should take your dog to the veterinarian to have it diagnosed and appropriately treated. Your veterinarian will determine the extent of the ear infection, work out what is causing it and prescribe treatments that will specifically and appropriately treat the infection. Some products for ear cleaning are available over the counter, but if used when your dog has an ear infection, especially if it involves a ruptured ear drum, can be dangerous.

This behaviour where your dog is dragging her anal area along the ground is commonly referred to as "scooting". Scooting indicates some sort of bottom irritation.

The most likely cause is an anal gland problem: Every dog has two anal glands or sacs (1 gland on each side of the anus). The secretion from these glands enables your dog to mark its territory and to identify each other. The anal sacs are normally expressed (emptied) during defecation. The secretion from the anal glands is a pungent, brownish liquid, although it can become thick, yellowish or creamy looking. The anal sacs can also be emptied when your dog is frightened. If the anal glands don't empty regularly, they can become impacted - the secretion becomes thicker and more difficult to empty; sometimes an infection in the anal gland will result. This can be irritating for your dog and your dog will scoot in order to relieve the irritation the impacted anal glands are causing. Impacted anal glands can be treated by manually expressing the glands. Your veterinarian can do this for your dog, and if it is a common problem for your dog, you can learn to do this yourself. Occasionally, impacted anal glands can block totally, and surgery is required.

Most veterinary clinics are able to offer dentistry services involving tooth extraction/removal. If you are wanting your dog to visit a specialist veterinary dentist, you will need to ask your normal veterinarian for a referral.

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