Health Blog

What Are Some Common Pet Health Problems?

Not all pet health problems are serious but if you think your pet might be developing a health issue, it’s best to get it checked out by a veterinarian. Ignoring minor issues and hoping they’ll go away can result in small problems becoming bigger ones. If you feel something is not right with your pet, take him/her for a check up.

There are some relatively common health issues that pets can suffer from. If treated initially, they can be managed effectively. If ignored and allowed to worsen over time, ailments can become more difficult to treat and cause your pet a lot of discomfort and unnecessary suffering.


Pets can suffer from allergies too. Just like humans, there can be a variety of triggers and sometimes it can take some figuring out before discovering exactly what your pet is allergic to. Symptoms of allergies are itchy and inflamed skin or paws, itchy ear infections, sneezing, runny eyes, and even diarrhea and vomiting. Once your veterinarian figures out what your pet is allergic to, appropriate treatment can be started.

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies (atopic dermatitis) can occur for a variety of reasons. An allergen can either touch your pet’s skin directly (contact dermatitis) or can be inhaled by your pet (inhalant allergies). Contact dermatitis can be caused by fleas, poison ivy, and even certain flea medications. Inhalant allergies or seasonal allergies can be triggered by pollen, plants, house dust or mites, molds, and trees, etc. Both types of allergies almost always result in itchy and inflamed skin and can include rash in various areas of the body like paws, ears, face, underarms, and the groin area. Allergies can also cause ear infections and hot spots on your pet’s body and can’t be left untreated. Your veterinarian may recommend a skin test as that’s the most accurate way to find out skin allergy triggers. Depending on what your pet is allergic to, your vet may recommend medication or injections as treatment. Other things that can help soothe skin allergies are oatmeal baths and omega-3 fatty acid supplements (usually in the form of oil that you can add to your pet’s food). Omega-3 supplements are good for dogs and cats in general as they help improve skin and fur and increase resistance to inflammation. They can also help with energy levels and joint health and are relatively easy and convenient to give to your pet (provided they don’t mind the taste).

Food Allergies

Food allergies are not as common but they can occur. About 10% of dogs that display allergy symptoms suffer from food allergies. Food allergies can also cause inflamed and itchy skin and itchy infected ears along with digestive problems. To find out if your pet has a food allergy, your vet will probably recommend food elimination trials to see which food/s could be causing a reaction. Your pet will be put on a specific diet and you might be asked to observe any signs and symptoms. If all goes well, your veterinarian might recommend keeping your pet on the new diet. If the problem persists however, your pet may be switched to another diet or your vet may want to take the investigation in another direction.

Heart Disease

Symptoms of heart disease include exercise intolerance (less energy and stamina during physical activity), faster breathing or difficulty breathing, coughing, fainting, gums that look blue, and fluid accumulation in the stomach. Treatment of heart disease is usually through medication or a combination of medications.

The effectiveness of treatment depends on how quickly heart problems are detected and treated and also on their severity. If heart disease has gone undetected and therefore untreated for very long, medication can only help remaining heart function and can’t restore or “fix” anything. This is why it is very important to take your pet in for their annual check ups and vaccinations. During your pet’s yearly physical check up, your veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart and lungs to detect any abnormality. Early detection and your being aware of the symptoms of heart disease could save your pet’s life.

Digestive Issues

Digestive problems can take the form of stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Diarrhea can be caused by toxins (e.g. if your pet ate something he/she wasn’t supposed to), allergies, infection, parasites, bowel or endocrine diseases, and cancer. The most common cause of diarrhea in pets is inflammation of the colon (part of the large intestine). Frequent diarrhea in pets requires medical attention. Treatment can be as simple as de-worming medication or can involve anti-inflammatory drugs or a special diet to prevent symptoms from returning.

Vomiting can be caused by an inflamed stomach (also known as gastritis). If your pet vomits, check for anything unusual like blood or remains of items that are not supposed to be there. Pets can swallow small items which can make them very ill. That’s why small items should not be left lying around or in places your pet can reach easily. If your pet is vomiting, make sure to remove all food for at least six hours so your pet’s stomach can get some rest (water is alright). If your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea for more than a day, he/she needs to see a veterinarian immediately. Depending on the cause of the vomiting, the vet may request an x-ray (if there’s a chance your pet may have swallowed something) or prescribe a bland homemade or prescription diet for a few days. Your vet might also prescribe acid reducers if they feel they will help your pet’s symptoms.

Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary tract issues can cause changes in your pet’s toilet behaviour and habits. If your dog or cat is normally well trained and goes out or uses their litter box properly but all of a sudden starts to wake you up at night to go out or has accidents in the house, he/she could be suffering from a urinary issue.

Symptoms of a urinary infection include frequent urination, unusually large or small amounts of urine, trying to urinate without success, painful urination (howling or meowing loudly while urinating or licking the area excessively), and changes in bathroom behaviour (accidents in the house or urinating outside the litter box in the case of cats). Stress can sometimes cause changes in pet behaviour (including toilet behaviour) but only a veterinarian can conduct the required tests to determine whether stress is the culprit or whether your pet has a medical condition. The vet will usually need your pet’s urine to test for an infection. Infections are typically treated with medication and your vet may prescribe a special urinary diet to ease your pet’s symptoms and help recovery.

Make sure your pet drinks enough water and place extra bowls in the house if needed. There are lots of automatic water fountain options for pets who like drinking from running water which can help increase water intake. Remaining hydrated is important for your pet’s overall health as well.

If you think your pet isn’t quite themselves or you feel something might be wrong, observe them for signs or symptoms of illness. If your pet starts showing signs of distress like breathing difficulty, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, bleeding from anywhere, or fainting then they need to see a veterinarian immediately.

Pet Emergency Tip 🆘

Keep a list of emergency 24/7 veterinary clinics closest to your home just in case you ever have to take your pet in. It will save you lots of time and stress if you’re a little prepared beforehand and don’t have to scramble for information at the last minute. Be sure to check out some Google reviews to see what pet owners are saying about their experiences with emergency clinics when they’ve taken their pet in at a stressful time.


Need to Book Your Pet's
Grooming Session?

Easy peasy!
Scroll to Top