All dogs rely on their doting owners to take care of them. So, as that owner, there’s nothing more heart-breaking than seeing your dog under the weather – especially when you end up having to take them to the dreaded vet for expensive surgery. Below are 3 illnesses that all owners should be aware of – and the straightforward ways to stop them developing.
1.) Gastric Torsion AKA Bloat – If you’ve noticed your dog looking and feeling bloated after their meal, they may be at risk of Gastric Torsion. One of the obvious symptoms is them developing a larger-than-normal abdomen. They may also be gulping down their food in a matter of seconds - which can make their stomach twist further.
Breeds that are commonly affected by Gastric Torsion are Great Danes, German Shepherds, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds and Weimaraners. Unfortunately, dogs with Bloat have to undergo veterinary surgery in order to receover. However, a good way to prevent Bloat in the first instance is to regulate their meals carefully – or you can also try using slow feeder bowls which will help slow down their eating habits significantly.
2.) Parvovirus AKA Parvo – This is one of the top viral diseases in dogs, and you should always on the lookout for it. The pups who are particularly at risk of getting Parvo are puppies from breeding facilities or shelters, as they are exposed to large numbers of other dogs. The symptoms are pretty dramatic, too – vomiting, red diarrhoea, fever, weight loss and lethargy - and you should take your dog to the vet ASAP if they develop any of the symptoms, as they may require intensive treatment. However, all of this can be readily prevented if all puppies get their vaccines from an early age. So, don’t skimp on those puppy vaccinations!
3.) Heartworm / Lungworm Disease – This potentially fatal illness is caused when a dog ingests round worm parasites, and can cause lasting damage to their heart, lungs and arteries. Dogs who have heartworm disease may not show any symptoms at first, but as the infection progresses they are more likely to show symptoms such as coughing, fatigue, a lack of appetite and weight loss.
The main carriers of this disease are slugs, foxes and mosquito bites. More prominent in the South of England, the key way to prevent these roundworms taking hold is to try and stop your dogs from playing with or consuming snails when they’re out on walks. It’s also worth making sure that outdoor toys are regularly cleaned – a slug trail on anything can be all that’s needed to pass on the illness. As well as taking these precautionary measures, some vets recommend that dogs be tested annually for heartworm disease. If the vet does find that your dog is suffering from it though, fear not – there are many successful treatments available.