Conditions & Treatments

Unfortunately there are a lot of common conditions which can affect our pets. Some can be prevented, others are just part of being a dog owner! In this section we’ve outlined some of the common conditions and some treatment and prevention tips.

Puppy

Expert Q&A

Our expert vet team regularly takes questions from PawClub members and posts answers to the more common ones online.

Some questions you may be interested in are:

  • Excessive flatulence in a younger animal is usually caused by diet. To stop this, feed your dog a premium complete dry food and nothing else. In an older dog that is losing weight the cause is less likely to be food related. There are some medical conditions that can cause flatulence (along with weight loss), and many of these are treatable. Have your dog examined by your local veterinarian.

  • It is highly likely that your dog has dermatitis, an inflammatory condition of the skin. This can be caused by numerous things. Dermatitis can be a very frustrating problem to treat for both owners and often vets too!

    Fleas 

    One very common cause is fleas. This can be the case even if you cannot see or find fleas. In some cases, dog can have allergic reactions from just one bite of ONE flea! So ensure your dog is on a good flea treatment. See PawClub Health and Care for more information.

    Mites

    Itchy skin can also be caused by certain types of mites. These need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian, often after performing skin scrapings and examining them under a microscope.

    Infections

    Alternatively, itching may be the result of a bacterial or yeast infection. These infections can be the cause of the itching on their own or may be due to additional problems as well. Your vet may want to do a sticky tape preparation to diagnose the infection. Depending on what is found your dog may need to be given antibiotics or antifungal medications.

    Seasonal allergy

    Many dogs suffer from itchy skin at certain times of the year. This can be due to allergies to pollens or other triggers in the air at that time of year. These allergens are breathed in and cause the itchy skin. It is similar to hayfever in humans, except instead of red eyes and runny noses, we see itchy skins in our dogs.

    Contact dermatitis

  • Sometimes, when tails are stepped on, it can cause a fracture of one of the tail bones or pull the skin away from the bone. The tail can then look normal but actually be quite sore. The concern is that if you leave it, the tail break could set incorrectly and cause long-term pain. The tip of the tail may also “die” resulting in severe pain and infections. If your dog is in pain, it is recommended that you have your dog checked at your vet. They may want to take an X-ray too.

  • Your dog could have thunderstorm or noise phobia, a fairly common condition. The first thing you need to understand is that your dog is actually scared of these noises. To help him feel more secure, try creating a dark, sound-proof enclosure for your dog inside the house. This could be a dog crate wrapped in egg-carton-type mattress foam to make it sound proof. You will probably need to train your dog to accept this new confinement area by throwing food treats inside and giving him rewards for going inside. Also, give your dog long massaging pats to try and sooth him. 

    Alternatively, make sure your dog is in a room that is as dark and as sound proof as possible whenever there is thunder or fireworks. Play a radio or music to disguise or drown-out the noise. Even 'white noise' (TV or radio static) can assist. Sometimes a CD of thunderstorm noises can assist some dogs in getting used to these strange sounds. Do something fun with your dog whilst thunderstorm noises so you desensitize them, so by associating thunderstorms with a fun and exciting and non-threatening activity.

    If your dog still seems to need help there are medications and pheromones that can assist. Some are short-term medications and some work for longer. These are only available from your vet or a veterinary behaviourist.

  • There can be many reasons for shaking in the legs. This can be caused by arthritis, some muscular problems, some metabolic problems e.g. diabetes, and sometimes it can be 'normal' ageing. I highly recommend having your dog checked by your vet. 

  • Lumps come in all shapes and sizes, and can be all sorts as well! This can range from injection site reactions, benign lumps, or in some cases, malignant cancers. As such, it really is best to bring your dog to your family veterinarian to get it checked out. They may run a few tests if needed. They may recommend surgery to remove the lump. They may also advise you to simply keep an eye on it. However, unless it is assessed by your family veterinarian, it is difficult for us to advise on lumps, just because they do come in all shapes and sizes, and could be just about anything!

  • Dermatitis can be very frustrating and complex for both pet owners and vets! The most common cause of itching is fleas. This can be the case even if you cannot see or find the fleas. So to start, make sure your dog is on a good brand of flea treatment every month, all year round, such as Revolution. If your dog is still itchy despite this and has dermatitis, then it is best to bring your dog to your family veterinarian for a thorough check-up, as there are so many possible reasons and so many different types of dermatitis. Your veterinarian will be the best person to assess your dog’s skin, lifestyle and develop the best treatment and management plan for you and your pet.

  • There are a number of reasons why your dog would be licking its anal area and give out a strong fishy smell. This could range from simple, impacted anal glands (which is the most common reason), tapeworm infections or something even more serious, such as infections or cancer. The best thing to do is to have the anal area checked out by your family veterinarian, and they will also advise on the best management plan for your dog.

  • Most veterinary clinics are able to offer dentistry services involving tooth extraction/removal. If you are wanting your dog to visit a specialist veterinary dentist, you will need to ask your normal vet for a referral.

  • This behaviour where your dog is dragging her anus along the ground is commonly referred to as "scooting". Scooting indicates some sort of bottom irritation.
    The most likely cause is an anal gland problem: Every dog has two anal glands or sacs (1 gland on each side of the anus). The secretion from these glands enables the dog to mark its territory and to identify each other. The anal sacs are normally expressed (emptied) during defecation. The secretion from the anal glands is a pungent, brownish liquid, although it can become thick, yellowish or creamy looking. The anal sacs can also be emptied when the dog is frightened. If the anal glands don't empty regularly, they can become impacted - the secretion becomes thicker and more difficult to empty; sometimes an infection in the anal gland will result. This can be irritating for the dog and the dog will scoot in order to relieve the irritation the impacted anal glands are causing. Impacted anal glands can be treated by manually expressing the glands. Your vet can do this for your dog, and if it is a common problem for your dog, you can learn to do this yourself. Occasionally, impacted anal glands can block totally, and surgery is required.

  • This type of ear infection involves a yeast called Malassezia. This yeast is part of the normal skin flora, but can under certain conditions, multiply and cause clinical signs of an ear infection - red, itchy ears sometimes with a discharge. Commonly, bacteria are also involved in causing the clinical signs of an ear infection. It should be noted that certain breeds are predisposed to overgrowth of Malassezia.
    If you suspect that your dog has any type of ear infection, you should take your dog to the vet to have it diagnosed and appropriately treated. Your vet will determine the extent of the ear infection, work out what is causing it and prescribe treatments that will specifically and appropriately treat the infection. Some products for ear cleaning are available over the counter, but if used when the dog has an ear infection, especially if it involves a ruptured ear drum, can be dangerous.

  • Whilst heart disease is usually not curable, as a pet owner you can incorporate some simple dietary changes that when used in combination with medical therapies can ensure your dog has a good quality of life.
    Sodium restriction is usually the first dietary change that is recommended for patients with heart failure because the condition tends to lead to salt and water retention. Typically, many commercial brands of pet food have relatively high salt levels. Pet treats can also be high in salt and should be avoided. Other minerals important for heart health include potassium and magnesium. It is important to supply the correct levels of these essential nutrients in the diet for optimal effect.
    Protein should not be overly restricted in dogs with heart disease and the kilojoules content of the food needs to be appropriate to maintain your pet's ideal body weight. Excess body weight results in increased work requirements for the heart, while too little energy is also deleterious.
    Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in some patients with heart disease as they may help to reduce inflammation which may ultimately reduce the risk of muscle wasting and heart rhythm abnormalities.
    Whilst there are some important dietary changes you can make for your pet suffering heart disease, it is important that such changes are done in the context of providing an overall palatable and nutritionally balanced food. There are a variety of commercially available therapeutic diets available through your veterinarian, which are specifically formulated to meet all the nutritionally requirements of particular medical conditions. Speak to your vet about any specific dietary changes you may need to undertake to maintain your pet's health.

  • Any dog can have smelly ears, but especially floppy-ear breeds where the ear flap covers the ear canal and traps moisture inside. On the other hand it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health disorder such as ear mites, a yeast infection or a bacterial infection. You should get your vet to do a check for you.
    You should also regularly clean your dog's ears. Here's the easy way to do it:
    1.Grab some vet-recommended dog ear cleaner, cotton balls or cotton pads, Q-tips and dog treats.
    2. Sit your dog in a comfortable setting, and sit right next to him or her so they can't back up and squirm away. You may need another set of hand sto help you do this.
    3. To get rid of the wax and gunk, dampen a large cotton ball or cotton pad with the canine ear cleaning solution and wipe the ear. Then do the same on the other ear.
    4. Then dampen the Q-tips with the ear cleaner to get rid of remaining ear wax from the nooks and crannies and the outer ear canal. Whatever you do, don't insert the Q tip into the ear canal - make sure that you can always see the tip of the Q tip; only use it for cleaning the outer parts of the ear.
    5. Offer praise and treats along the way to keep your dog in a buoyant mood and make ear cleaning something to look forward to.

  • It's important to do weekly eye checks on your dog. To give them a good eye-balling, face them in a brightly lit area and look into their eyes. They should be clear and bright, and the area around the eyeball should be white. The pupils should be the same size, and there shouldn't be any discharge, tearing or crust in the corners of his or her eyes.
    You'll also want to roll back the lower eyelid with your thumb and look at the lining to make sure it's pink, rather than red or white.

    Other things to look out for include a protruding third eyelid, closed eye/s, cloudiness, change of eye colour and tear stains on their fur around the eye.

  • Yes, very normal. A Labrador coat is very thick and dense and when they go through their seasonal moult, they lose hair in alarming amounts.

  • Most dogs love food, so when a dog isn't eating, it usually indicates that they are not well. Veterinary attention should be sought.

  • It could be a number of reasons. It may be due to eating too many doggy treats, feeding by a friendly neighbour, a change in diet, not enough exercise, part of growing or, they could be pregnant.

  • Common symptoms of food allergy are tummy upsets and diarrhoea, and/or skin problems with rashes and itchiness. You might notice that these signs occur when your dog eats a certain food; but then avoiding this food, the signs might not return. If you are concerned that your dog has food allergy and can't work out why, consult your veterinarian.

  • The size of your dog usually plays a role in whether or not a joint problem is the real issue. Bigger dogs put more weight on their joints, which can do more long term damage. Treatments such as physical therapy and swimming may help to manage joint problems. If your vet thinks that your dog has a joint problem, they might recommend radiographs to image the joint and see what’s going on. Surgery is usually only required for more serious problems that can’t be managed otherwise.

See all questions
Q&A - Ask our experts