Dog Health Problems: Common Conditions by Breed, Size, Age

As our fellow cannot tell us about their pain or suffering, their illness might go unnoticed until it takes a turn for the worse. The types of dog health problems that your buddy may suffer in his lifetime are the last thing you want to think about. But educating yourself about the common diseases that dogs might suffer and the common symptoms of a sick dog is part of pet parenting. They depend on us to look after them to live a happy and healthy life.


Breeds of all ages and sizes can suffer from a range of medical issues and disorders. Some are common to all dogs, while other conditions are related to a specific breed, size, or age group. This article puts together a handy list of common ailments by breed, size, and age of dogs, along with their symptoms and a guide to reducing the risk of your dog’s health problems.


Common Health Problems in Dogs


1.      Cataracts

Cataracts are serious dog health problems, especially for older dogs, but in some cases, they may even be present when the dog is born.  It is a cloudiness or opacity of the eye lenses that prevent light from reaching the retina. It slowly leads dogs to vision impairment and eventually blindness.


2.      Arthritis

About one in five dogs in Australia suffer from arthritis during their lifetime. It is the most common condition in older dogs where they suffer from abnormal changes in the joints.  It is the cause of chronic pain in senior dogs and often causes permanent joint damage. Arthritis affects common joints like hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows. It can be treated with proper medication, physiotherapy, and homeopathic treatment.


3.      Ear infections

Ears infections are common in dogs with long ears and more exposure to the outdoors. It results from the accumulation of dust, dirt, or other objects like grass in the dog’s ears, causing extreme irritation and infection. It is treated with the help of ear drops containing antibiotics to fight off the infection.


4.      Kennel cough

Kennel cough is equivalent to the common cold in humans and is not life-threatening for dogs. Dogs that live in shelter homes or pet accommodation canters are more prone to this illness. Kennel cough is a contagious disease that’s spread through the air or a contaminated object. Although antibiotics are available, it is best to treat it by giving enough food and water to your pup.


5.      Diarrhea

Diarrhea is termed as loose bowel movements that frequently occur in dogs.  It is a common illness caused by several factors, including a change in diet, a sensitive stomach, dehydration, etc. Dogs with diarrhea can suffer from weakness, exercise intolerance, collapse, or even seizure in extreme cases. It slowly subsides over time with a good diet and rest.


6.      Parasites

Most of the time, dogs suffer from common internal and external parasites. Internal parasites may include heartworms (worms that grow in the heart and lungs), intestinal hookworms and ringworms, and external parasites like ticks and fleas. Dogs usually get parasites by taking contaminated food or coming into contact with an affected animal. Parasites in contaminated water are a common cause of Coccidia in puppies and Giardia in dogs.


7.      Obesity

Obesity is a significant cause of many health issues in dogs and is not taken seriously enough. Recent studies show that about 50-60% of dogs are obese or overweight. It can lead to chronic illnesses like heart issues, kidney dysfunction, arthritis, etc. You can reduce your dog’s weight by controlling the diet and exercise.


8.      Tumors/Cancer

Dogs, especially in old age, develop cancer and tumors just like humans. The most common cancers dogs suffer from are lymphoma, melanoma, breast cancer, skin cancer, and prostate cancer. Mast cells tumors cause about 16-21% of all skin cancers in dogs. These tumors are benign but life-threatening to dogs.


9.      Dental Diseases

Dental diseases in dogs are commonly caused by a lack of dental care in dogs.  About 80% of dogs experience the onset of dental problems by the age of two. The most common gum disease, also called Periodontal disorder, is caused by bacteria that build up on teeth and harden the plaque. It can destroy the bone that supports dogs’ teeth and result in tooth loss.


10.  Skin Infections and Hotspots

Skin infections are usually caused by bacteria infestation in the scratch or wound inflicted upon them. Yeast infection also causes skin diseases in dogs, but those are less severe. Dogs might suffer from redness, inflammation, and severe itching as a result of a skin infection.


11.  UTI Urinary Tract Infections

UTI is caused by a bacterium that enters the urethral opening in dogs. Accumulation of feces and debris, or a weakened immune system, accounts for bacteria entering the urethra. Dogs with such conditions have a frequent urge to urinate.


Dog Health Problems by Breed


1.      Beagles

Beagles predominantly suffer from epilepsy and might have their first seizure between 6 months to 3 years. Although epilepsy cannot be cured, we can manage it with antiseizure medications for frequent attacks.


2.      Siberian Huskies

Huskies are predisposed to several autoimmune disorders, which affect skin and eyes. These result in sores, hair loss on the face, glaucoma, and cataracts. One of the most common disorders in Huskies is a skin infection, Pemphigus foliaceus.


3.      Bulldogs

Bulldogs usually suffer from respiratory problems due to their small nostrils, elongated soft palate, and narrow trachea. They are often prone to other health problems, including heart issues, hip dysplasia, and cherry eye.


4.      Dachshunds

Dachshunds are prone to musculoskeletal conditions due to their long bodies and short legs.  They may suffer from intervertebral disc disease, osteoarthritis, and patella luxation (loose knees).


5.      Retrievers

Golden retrievers are prone to skin allergies. When they come into contact with allergens, their skin gets itchy. Dogs start scratching, chewing, and licking their skin frequently, resulting in red sores all over their body.


6.      Poodles

Poodles are at increased risk of severe eye infections called glaucoma. In this condition, fluid builds up in the eye resulting in pressure, pain, and blindness eventually.


7.      Yorkshire Terriers

Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is standard in small breeds like the Yorkie. It is a congenital disability in the portal vein that carries toxins from the intestines to the liver. In PSS, the vein bypasses the liver, so toxins are not removed and start accumulating in the blood. It results in poor growth, vomiting, psychological issues, and seizures.


8.      Boxer

Boxers are usually at higher risk of lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Both of these appear as lumps on specific areas of their body or in internal organs. They must be treated early from their onset; otherwise, they can cause serious health issues.


9.      Doberman Pinscher

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). It is a heart condition in which the heart’s muscles are stretched out. As a result, the heart’s ability to pump blood reduces and affects the oxygen supply to the body. It goes unnoticed until the dog collapses. It is so common in Dobermans that they require regular check-ups and screening.


10.  Rottweiler

Rottweiler suffers from a variety of joint problems. These may include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, and Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD). OCD is a common condition that develops in Rottweiler pups due to the abnormal development of cartilage between their bones.


Dog Health Problems by Size


Most health issues are common in all sizes and breeds of dogs. But many conditions are somehow more prevalent in different sizes of dogs. Large dogs are more susceptible to diseases due to their size and growth rate. Small and medium-sized dogs also require attention as they have a higher risk of certain hereditary defects. Here are some of the diseases that affect large, small, or medium-sized breeds exclusively.


1.      Small Size Breed

The cute and cuddly small-sized dogs are also prone to various dog health issues that might make you visit the vet regularly. Watch out for the following most common health issues in small breeds:

  • Respiratory tract abnormalities like Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
  • Mitral Valve disease
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Intervertebral Disk Disease IVDD
  • Ectropion (eyelid rolled outward)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Tracheal collapse
  • Mitral Valve disease
  • Whelping Complications
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Homeostatic imbalance


2.      Medium Size Breeds

Medium size dogs are a perfect balance of lap dogs and large breeds. Their weight ranges from 20-60 pounds. Medium-sized dogs are at risk of the following diseases:

  • Joint issues (hip and elbow dysplasia)
  • Eye diseases (cherry eyes, cataracts, entropion, glaucoma, retinal disorders, reduced tear production)
  • Mange
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney/liver dysfunction


3.      Large Sized Breeds

Large size does not make a dog sturdy enough to fight all the diseases. Giant breeds often suffer from mild to chronic conditions that make their lifespan shorter. You can keep a healthier lifestyle for your dog by regularly visiting the vet and keeping in check for the following issues:

  • gastric torsion
  • Bone cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bloat
  • Wobbler Syndrome (Cervical Spondylomyelopathy) CSM
  • Heart Weakness (Dilated Cardiomyopathy)
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Lymphoma
  • Splenic Mass
  • Arthritis
  • Entropion (Eyelid rolled inward)
  • Cherry eye


Dog Health Problems by Age


Age is the primary factor playing a role in the overall health of a dog. Puppies require more attention as their juvenile bodies are more prone to viral and infectious diseases. Similarly, older dogs develop age-related illnesses in their golden years. As for adult dogs, their health concerns are already covered in previous sections of this article. Some of the dog health problems of young and senior dogs are listed below.


1.      In Puppies

Bringing a puppy home is not all about hugs and treats. While you shower them with love, remember they are more susceptible to several diseases that require special attention. These include:

  • Canine Distemper Virus CDV
  • Parvovirus
  • Kennel Cough
  • Adenovirus
  • Leptospirosis (bacterial infection of kidney)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Birthing Complications
  • Distemper
  • Diarrhea


2.      In Senior Dogs

Dogs are considered “senior” at about 6-7 years of age. Although they have plenty of years left to live, they develop some age-related dog health problems, some of which are as follow:

  • Heart issues
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Liver diseases
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Cataracts
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • High blood pressure

Cancer is the cause of almost 50% of the deaths of dogs over ten years of age. It is also normal for senior dogs to lose their hearing and sight or suffer from behavioral changes.


Symptoms to Look For

Dogs cannot tell us about any sickness, but it is imperative to know that your dog suffers from a disease before it gets late and you suffer a loss. The only way to do so is by examining a change in your dog’s behavior and potential symptoms of a disease. Some common symptoms of dogs with health issues include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting/gagging
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Appetite loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • A tooth decay/swollen gums
  • Flue
  • Itchy or red skin
  • Weight change
  • Tiredness
  • Change in behavior
  • Change in stool
  • Fever


Ways to Avoid Dog Health Problems

It is common for dogs to suffer from minor health issues regardless of breed, size, or age. But our incentive should be to ensure good health and happiness for our canine fellow. You can follow some simple steps of preventive care routine to keep your dog healthy.


  • Take the dog to the vet, if not regularly, at least once a year for an examination and check for illness.
  • Give regular baths and teeth cleaning sessions to your dog to avoid skin infections and tooth decay.
  • Follow a healthy diet plan. Keep checking which foods are best for your dog according to age, breed, or size. Also, if the dog suffers from a disease, consult your vet before selecting a diet plan for him.
  • Know the regular habits of your canine fellow and if they show unusual behavior or symptoms of any disease mentioned above, then reach out to a vet for a detailed examination and treatment.


Final Thoughts

As you have gone through the dog’s health problems by their breed, size, and age, keep some key points in your mind. First, purebreds are more prone to hereditary conditions, so ensure a regular visit to the vet for their screening. Dogs’ health issues arise due to particular breeds, size, age, or injury; hence always look out for symptoms carefully and follow a preventive care routine. In case of any irregularity in their activities or behavior, consult a vet to promise a healthy life to your dog.





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