To help your pet live a happy and healthy life, it’s important to be aware of some of the most common health problems they face. Like us, pets are prone to a range of injuries and conditions. And if they run into trouble, it’s your responsibility to help them recover and manage. Here are the five most common pet injuries and how to treat them at home.
Otitis externa is an inflammation of the external ear canal, an infection commonly found in dogs. According to recent statistics, it is the most claimed pet injury in Australia. Caused by parasites, food allergies, drug reactions, foreign bodies, a build-up of hair or dead skin, or autoimmune diseases – it can affect dogs of any age and breed.
How do you spot otitis externa? The symptoms to look for include pain, head shaking, scratching at the ears, and bad odour. If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet right away. In most cases, treatment requires topical therapy (such as antibacterial drops), followed by a complete cleansing of the external ear. After treatment, your vet may ask you to regularly cleanse your dog’s ears to avoid recurrence. If all goes well, your pooch should be back to normal within three to four weeks.
If you find that your dog is always scratching, itching, licking or rubbing, they might have a skin condition. While treatment depends on the cause and your veterinarian’s advice, here are a few general pointers for common conditions:
Dull coat. Simple treatments for dull, dry coats include adding omega-3 (fatty acids) to your dog’s diet, regular baths with quality shampoo, regular grooming to get rid of dead skin and fur, and adding a humidifier to the home.
Skin infections. These can either be bacterial infections or fungal (yeast) infections. For bacterial infections, the best treatment is regular baths using quality shampoo with antibacterial properties. The same goes for yeast infections but using antifungal shampoo instead.
Hot spots. These painful sores can cause your dog a world of pain. Once diagnosed, treatments include anti-itch spray, antiseptic shampoo baths, and treating the hot spot topically.
Hair loss. Whether it’s caused by mange, allergies, or infections, it’s not normal for your dog to lose excessive amounts of hair. From antibiotics to changes in your dog’s diet, treating your dog depends on the cause.
As our dog gets older, a lifetime of chasing balls and running around naturally catches up on them. Arthritis is common in older dogs, but the good thing is, there are easy ways to make their golden years comfortable. Along with prescribed medication, strategies might include:
Massaging. We all know dogs love a good massage. However, there are certified canine massage therapists that can really help soothe sore joints.
Adjusting the home. Make sure you provide supportive, soft bedding, as well as carpets and rugs for traction – in the home or outside.
Exercise. This should be a priority. As much as your dog might dislike the idea of exercise, it will help them in the long run. Depending on their age and condition, this could be anything from a daily walk to a light paddle in the pool.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture isn’t just for us. In fact, it has successfully helped dogs in the relief of pain.
Cruciate Ligament Rupture
Cruciate ligament injury is one of the main causes of hind limb lameness. The knee is one of the weakest joints in a dog’s body, and rupture can happen for a variety of reasons – from a chronic or acute degeneration and stretching of the ligament to the pressure obesity puts on the joints. While some breeds are more susceptible than others, it often occurs in medium to large breeds over the age of four.
Whether your dog needs surgery or not depends on its weight and condition. However, once surgery is complete, your vet will help you come up with a plan to treat your dog at home. This can include the use of ice packs and physical therapy, such as massage, electrical muscle stimulation, and range-of-motion exercises, as well as giving them prescribed medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
Also known as Pink Eye, conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva. The causes can range from bacterial and viral, to immune-mediated and even cancer. Some symptoms to look for include squinting, spasmodic blinking, redness of the eye, discharge from the eyes (mucus, pus), and swelling.
Treatment depends on what kind of conjunctivitis it is. Your vet might prescribe antibiotic ointment if it’s bacterial, or recommend a change to your dog’s diet if it’s related to food allergies. Either way, it’s best to follow your vet’s advice.
This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.