The 8 Most Common Canine Health Problems

A large-scale study of dogs in the UK has identified the most common canine health disorders seen by veterinarians.

The electronic health data of over 450,000 dogs under veterinary care in the UK was analyzed by researchers conducting this study.

Let’s take a look at some key findings.  Be sure to check out the full report, published in BMC Veterinary Research HERE.

The 8 most common canine health problems are:

  • Anal sac disorder
  • Conjunctivitis (eye infection)
  • Dental disease
  • Dermatitis (skin problems)
  • Overweight or obese
  • Lipoma (fatty tissue growth)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa (ear infection)

The researchers note that some of these health conditions are more prevalent than others, while some tend to be more severe or longer lasting than others.

Most prevalent health issues:

  • Dental disease
  • Overweight or obese
  • Anal sac disorder

Most severe health problems:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa
  • Dermatitis

Health issues with longest duration:

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

Which canine health disorders were found to have the greatest overall negative impact on a dog’s well-being?

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

The good news is that many of the most common canine health problems are preventable!  Regular dental care, both at home and at the vet’s office, is essential to your dog’s dental health.

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise can prevent obesity and other associated health problems.  A healthy body weight can also help ease the discomfort of arthritis.

Be sure to talk to your vet about ways you can work together to maintain your dog’s health and prevent these common health problems.

 

Pet Dental Care Guidelines from the American Animal Hospital Association

The American Animal Hospital Association recently updated its dental care guidelines for veterinary practitioners.   They have also created a helpful factsheet for dog and cat owners based on the guidelines.

Here’s what you need to know to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy!

  • Dental disease starts early, and most pets will have some issues by the age of three. Your vet should check your pet’s teeth at every preventive care visit, regardless of age.
  • Dental problems can cause chronic pain, which many pets are good at hiding. Observe changes in your pet’s behavior and appetite.

  • X-Rays can help your vet confirm a diagnosis of dental disease, even when your pet’s teeth look normal.
  • While many owners are nervous about anesthesia, it is important for your pet to remain still and comfortable during dental procedures. Your vet will perform bloodwork to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia.
  • Even if you brush your pet’s teeth at home, dentals are effective in removing plaque from under the gumline.
  • Your vet may prescribe pain medication for you to give your pet at home after a dental, especially if any teeth were extracted.

  • Home tooth brushing is the best way to help maintain your dog or cat’s oral health between vet visits. Choose brushes and pastes made for pets and look for dental health treats and chews that are accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

 

 

Dental Problems in Flat-Faced Cat Breeds

There’s a lot of information out there about the health problems associated with flat muzzles (called brachycephaly) in certain dog breeds such as the Bulldog, Pug, and Shih Tzu.  But did you know that flat-faced cats, especially the Persian and the Exotic Shorthair, also suffer from health problems tied to brachycephaly?

Brachycephalic animals can suffer from a wide range of problems, including obstructed airways and reduced oxygen to the lungs, protruding eyes that are vulnerable to injury, heat stroke, gastrointestinal problems, and exercise induced collapse.

Another common health problem associated with brachycephaly in dogs and cats is dental disease caused by the physical structure of head and face.

A new study of dental problems in brachycephalic cat breeds found that they are prone to a wide range of issues.  Here’s a quick rundown of the findings:

Two of the most common problems are malocclusion (misalignment) of the canine teeth (found in 72% of cats in the study) and overcrowding of the incisor teeth (50% of the cats).

Other problems include crowding of the molars and premolars and having at least one tooth with some sort of positional change, such as orientation, rotation, or impaction.  Anther anomaly seen in these cats is hypodontia (absent teeth).

What about gum disease in brachycephalic cats?  The researchers found that 88% of the cats in the study had some degree of periodontal disease.  Many also had inflammatory tooth resorption.

Do you have a Persian or Exotic Shorthair cat?  Make sure regular tooth brushings and dental checkups at the veterinarian’s office are part of your cat care routine.

 

The 6 Cat Life Stages

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has outlined the 6 distinct cat life stages, and what cat owners can do to provide the best care for their cats at each stage of life, from kittenhood to geriatrics.

Here’s a quick overview, and be sure to visit the AAFP website for the full details, and for lots of other useful cat care information as well!

Kitten (0-6 months):  This is the easiest stage to introduce your kitten to children and other pets.  It’s also the best time to establish a regular routine for nail trimming and tooth and coat brushing.  Teach your kitten to become comfortable with the carrier and rides in the car.

Junior (6 months-2 years):  Cats become sexually mature as young as 6 months of age, so be sure to have your cat spayed or neutered by this stage to avoid unwanted litters and improve your cat’s behavior.

Prime (3-6 years):  While cats are often at their healthiest at this stage, it’s still important to bring your cat to the veterinarian for regular wellness checkups and preventive care like dental cleanings.

Mature (7-10 years):  Some cats become more sedentary and less playful at this stage.  Be sure to keep your cat at a healthy weight to avoid the health problems associated with feline obesity, a common problem in older cats.

Senior (11-14 years):  Cats at this stage are roughly equivalent to human seniors in the 70+ age range.  Consider increasing vet visits to once every 6 months at this stage of your cat’s life.

Geriatric (15 years and over):  While the average cat lifespan is around 15 years, many cats can live well beyond their teens and into their 20s.  Monitor your older cat for health and behavior changes and talk to your vet about managing chronic health issues.

 

If It’s February, It Must Be Pet Dental Health Month!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and the perfect time to get in the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth (if you don’t already), and scheduling a dental appointment with your veterinarian.

Just like your own dental health, your pet’s dental health is important too.  Tooth decay and gum disease can cause your dog or cat discomfort and other serious health problems if an infection in the mouth spreads.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a webpage devoted to Pet Dental Health Month, with lots of useful resources for pet parents.

To get you started, they have posted this pet tooth brushing how-to video on YouTube.  Happy brushing!