Common Dog Afflictions and How to Manage Them at Home

It’s always easier to take care of your dog when you have a handle on what’s going on with him, whether it’s a chronic condition or just an occasional illness. The trick is knowing where to look for symptoms and what they mean. 

As per research by NIH, over 90% of dog owners visit vets at any time, and 40% visit them annually. But before you reach your veterinarian, pay attention to their symptoms. 

This guide will help you understand common dog afflictions so that you can better manage them at home.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are common in dogs and can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause is bacteria in the outer ear canal. This happens when the skin around the ear becomes irritated from allergies or excessive moisture, like when your pup spends too much time in wet conditions.

To help prevent an ear infection from occurring, you’ll want to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry as much as possible. If you suspect that your dog might have an infection, it’s important to pay attention. The signs can include redness or inflammation around their ears, loss of appetite, fluid draining from their ears, and shaking their head often enough to seem uncomfortable.

An infected ear can lead to complications, including permanent hearing loss or even sepsis if left untreated. A potentially life-threatening condition where bacteria travels throughout your pet’s body, causing fever, chills, and shock.

Canine Heartworm Disease

Heartworm is a parasitic disease that affects dogs. Mosquitoes transmit it, and it can be fatal if left untreated.  The American Heartworm Society reported that more than 1 million dogs in 2021 had heartworm disease, which was prevalent in all 50 US states. To help prevent your dog from contracting heartworm, you should regularly have him tested for it.

You can give your dog Heartgard Plus Chewables for dogs, available at most physical or online pet stores, to prevent the disease from infecting your dog. However, some veterinarians recommend that you get your dog tested before administering any medications to better measure the parasitic growth in their system.


Many different types of allergies can affect dogs, and the symptoms vary depending on your dog’s allergy. Although there are many causes for canine allergies, food and environmental allergies are the most common culprits.

Symptoms of canine allergies may include:

  • Itchy skin and hair loss
  • Redness around the eyes or muzzle (called “pink eye”)

If you think your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction to something he’s eaten or been exposed to, it’s important to get him checked out by a veterinarian right away. 

Allergies can be treated with medications that suppress inflammation and steroids. In some cases, though rarely-allergic reactions may require emergency treatment such as shots containing epinephrine to counteract severe symptoms such as swelling around the mouth or tongue. If this happens at home, call 911 immediately.

Anal Gland Issues

Anal glands on either side of the anus produce a smelly, oily substance called anal gland fluid. This fluid is released when the dog defecates and helps to keep the area clean. However, if they become impacted or clogged over time, they can irritate your pet’s skin.

Anal gland issues can be frustrating for dog owners because there’s no quick fix. You’ll need to take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. If you notice that your pet has an unpleasant odor, or if they start scooting their butt across the floor while making frequent trips outside, it might be time for a checkup with your vet.

Colds and Flu

Colds and flu are common in dogs, and they can have similar symptoms to the ones you get. They can also be treated with antibiotics, rest, fluids, and a bland diet.

If your dog’s been sneezing or coughing, has a runny nose, or watery eyes that won’t stop, it could suffer from one of these illnesses. If you suspect your pup is coming down with something like this, head to the vet as soon as possible.

Upset Tummies

If your dog has an upset tummy, you may notice that they are less interested in eating and drinking than usual. They may also bring up their food or water and be reluctant to eat again for a while. Their stools may be unusually dark, soft, or runny. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet immediately.

If your dog does have an upset tummy, give them plenty of fresh water but no food until their stomach settles down completely (a couple of days). Try feeding them bland foods such as boiled chicken breast, rice, and boiled vegetables without salt or spices added.

Fleas and Ticks

Ticks are small, hard to see, and common pests. They have eight legs and two body parts: the head and the abdomen. Ticks can cause many kinds of diseases in dogs.

If you feel your dog has a tick-borne illness, go to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Hot Spots

Hot spots are inflamed, itchy areas of skin. They can be caused by allergies, fleas, mites, and even excessive scratching. Hot spots can also lead to secondary infections if left untreated.

If your dog is suffering from a hot spot, you should use medicated shampoo on the affected area twice daily for two weeks until the condition clears up. If your pet is still showing signs of discomfort after two weeks, then you should see a vet as soon as possible to rule out any other conditions that may be causing this problem.


As per The Zebra, 85 million US families own some kind of a pet, of which approx. 48 million families own a dog. 

We hope this post has given you some insight into common dog afflictions and how to manage them at home. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian first before administering any medication or treatment.

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