Pet Health
min read

10 Most Common Dog Health Issues

Dogs can suffer from various health issues. Regular vet visits and good health insurance plans can help keep your dog healthy.
Published on
October 2, 2023

Most dog owners remain unaware of many common dog health issues that their furry best friend faces the risk of having during their lifespan. Medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and gum disease represent common issues among all dogs, leading to costly vet bills if you do not have pet insurance. Plus, some health problems related to specific breeds, sizes, and ages exist that dog owners will want to be familiar with to ensure their pups live a long and healthy life.

Common Dog Health Issues & Symptoms

Some often-seen medical conditions in dogs are breed-specific, like hip dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. If you want a particular breed or size, you can talk to your vet about the potential health issues your dog may have.

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Here we present a list of ten common dog health issues and symptoms:

Skin Irritations

Most dogs will experience some form of skin irritation, one of the most common health problems in dogs. Most skin irritations come from allergies, parasites, or skin infections. Symptoms of skin irritations include:

  • Redness and inflammation
  • Flaky or scaly skin
  • Patches of hair loss
  • Excessive scratching and licking

Ear Infections

If your dog shakes its head and scratches at its ears more than usual, it may have an ear infection due to something stuck in its ears causing an infection. Or sometimes, allergies or parasites can trigger an infection in the ear. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage and possibly loss of hearing.

Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • Shaking their heads repeatedly
  • Scratching their ears
  • Skin around the ears is red or has a bad odor
  • Crusting or scabs around the ears

 Urinary Tract Infections

Many dog owners mistake peeing in the house as a behavioral issue, but more than likely, it indicates a urinary tract infection. They commonly occur in dogs, especially young dogs and those with underlying medical conditions. Signs of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Inappropriate urination
  • Bloody urine
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst

If left untreated, urinary tract infections can lead to kidney disease and diabetes.


Diarrhea is never pleasant to deal with, yet nearly all dogs experience this issue. An occasional bout of diarrhea does not mean you should rush your pooch to the vet. But if the diarrhea continues for more than a few days, it can be signs of toxicity, gastrointestinal issues, or other serious health issues.

Symptoms of diarrhea include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Soft or watery stool
  • Discharge from nose and eyes
  • Straining to defecate

Kennel Cough

If you notice your dog hacking or coughing frequently, it may be a sign of kennel cough. Despite its name, your pup can get kennel cough at home, usually caught from other dogs. This virus typically comes from the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, where Kennel Cough receives its name. Kennel cough symptoms include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Sneezing
  • Respiratory distress

Dental Disease

Many dog owners do not think about their dog's teeth unless they notice a significant problem. Still, gum issues like periodontal disease commonly occur in dogs and can lead to serious illness if left untreated.

Symptoms will include:

  • Bad breath
  • Plaque and tartar build-up
  • Excessive drooling
  • Blood on chew toys

If you do not take care of your dog’s teeth, bacteria from plaque and tartar build-up can lead to heart disease and kidney failure.


Obesity is a common dog health issue for all breeds and sizes. While some dogs can carry more weight than others, you can manage this very easily preventable health problem through a healthy diet and exercise. Obesity can lead to other illnesses such as diabetes, joint pain, and heart disease.

Symptoms of obesity in dogs include:

  • Rounding of the face
  • Unable to feel ribs
  • Excessive panting
  • Lack of energy to play or go on walks

Regular visits to your vet can help you monitor your dog’s weight. They can also recommend changes to their diet if their weight increases.


If your dog vomits often, it may be a sign of toxicity, a blockage in their GI tract, or just something they ate. While you do not need to rush to the vet every time they throw up, you will want to talk to your vet about their symptoms if you notice frequent vomiting over several hours or days.

Symptoms of vomiting include:

  • Excessing drooling
  • Retching
  • Contractions of the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite or refusing to eat

Anal Sac Impaction

Your dog’s anal sacs can become plugged or impacted due to inflammation of the anal ducts. As a result, the secretions will build up and become swollen, making it painful for your dog to go to the bathroom.

Symptoms of anal sac impaction are:

  • Bad odor
  • Excessive chewing or tail biting
  • Scooting on the ground
  • Red and swollen anal glands


When the joints in the body get inflamed, it can lead to arthritis in your dog’s joints called osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease. Typically, arthritis affects older dogs, but osteoarthritis can occur in younger dogs with an injury or congenital disorders like hip dysplasia.

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Limping
  • Trouble standing or sitting up
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability or mood changes

Dog Health Issues by Breed & Size

When a new dog owner brings home a new dog to love and care for, they don’t think about the potential health risks associated with the breed of dog they have or its size. After bringing home your new furry friend, make an appointment with your vet and talk to them about any common health issues relating to the size or breed of your new dog.

Let’s examine some medical conditions in dogs that you need to watch for among certain breeds:

  • Beagles: Beagles are more susceptible to epilepsy, obesity, and hypothyroidism.
  • German Shepherds: This breed’s common health problems include bloat, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and arthritis.
  • Labrador Retrievers: Labradors tend to suffer from obesity, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and tumors.
  • Poodles: Poodles have susceptibility to Addison’s disease, epilepsy, patellar luxation, and hypothyroidism.
  • Yorkshire Terriers: Yorkies often suffer from breathing problems caused by malformed cartilage rings in their windpipe. Other health issues common to this breed include pancreatitis, hypoglycemia, and patent ductus arteriosus.

The size of your dog will also come with some common dog health issues that your vet can discuss with you when you bring your dog in for a visit.

Small dogs often suffer from these dog health problems:

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome
  • Ectropion
  • Intervertebral disk disease
  • Mitral valve disease
  • Patellar luxation
  • Tracheal collapse

For large dogs, they are more prone to these dog health issues:

  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Bloat
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Gastric torsion
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Wobbler syndrome

Health Concern for Dogs by Age

Puppies will generally not show any health concerns right away, but you should be aware of some common health issues for young dogs that you want to be familiar with when thinking about getting a new puppy. Some of the common dog health issues for puppies include:

  • Canine Parvovirus (CPV, Parvo)
  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Whelping complications

For older dogs, they will be more susceptible to these age-related health issues for senior dogs:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Incontinence
  • Kidney disease
  • obesity

Keeping Your Dog Healthy

No matter what breed of dog you have or its age and size, your four-legged friend will run into some health concern once or twice during their life. Dog owners can reduce the risk of seeing these medical conditions in dogs by subscribing to a wellness plan at your local vet and by following these simple health tips for keeping some of these common dog health issues at bay:

  • Regular grooming and teeth cleaning
  • Twice-yearly comprehensive exams
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Regular exercise

Keep Your Furry Best Friend Happy and Healthy by Recognizing These Common Dog Health Issues & Symptoms

You can further protect your pup by keeping an eye out for signs of illnesses like excessive scratching, licking, or changes in behavior. Your dog’s health is just as important as yours, and knowing the common dog health issues your dog may face will keep them happy and give you peace of mind knowing you are doing all you can to keep your pup happy and healthy.

To help you with the cost of vet bills when your dog gets sick from a common health issue or accident, turn to Fursure, your pet insurance expert. We can help you find the right pet insurance to assist with the cost of routine exams, medical emergencies, dental cleaning, and much more. If you need pet insurance for your dog, click here to buy a plan. We’re here to help you find the right insurance to keep your dog healthy from any dog health issues that may happen to your furry friend.

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