5 Common Reasons Dogs Need to See the Vet

Madelene Hissom · Sep 30, 2021 · All

Author: Janine DeVault

Have you ever wondered about the most common reasons dogs need to visit the vet? When you notice health irregularities in your dog, sometimes it’s tough to decide whether your concern is warranted or if you’re simply overreacting. After all, none of us wants our precious pet to suffer any discomfort.

We used data from Nationwide pet insurance to highlight some of the most common reasons dogs make trips to the vet. 

We’ve outlined the common causes of these ailments, the symptoms to watch for, and how to know when it’s time to see the vet. 

If your dog experiences any of these issues, they’re definitely not alone!

1. Skin Allergies

Skin allergies have three main causes: fleas, food allergens, or environmental allergens. These allergies often manifest in the form of itchy bumps or welts, causing your dog to scratch or chew incessantly at the skin. This can result in hair loss and even painful sores or lacerations on your dog’s skin.

Because each type of allergy has similar symptoms, it can be tough to track down the allergen that causes the reaction without assistance from your veterinarian. Depending on the severity of the allergy, your dog may need medication, a cone to prevent scratching, a new diet, or a combination of all three.

If you notice your dog scratching or biting excessively at their skin, speak to your vet about the possibility of allergies. 

2. Ear Infections

Ear infections can occur in the inner ear, ear canal, or middle ear and have various causes. Sometimes, infections develop when moisture becomes trapped in a dog’s ear (especially common in dogs with long, floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds). 

Other times, an ear infection can be related to an allergy, endocrine disorder, autoimmune disorder, or an object becoming trapped in the ear canal.  

Symptoms of ear infections in dogs include frequent head shaking, scratching at the ears, and a foul odor emanating from the ear. Your dog’s ears may also excrete dark discharge or become red and swollen.

Your vet will prescribe medications to alleviate the infection and the associated symptoms and disc 

3. Non-Cancerous Skin Mass

Non-cancerous skin masses are quite common, especially in older dogs. While spotting a growth on your dog might be alarming at first, you’ll be relieved to know that between 60 and 80% of skin masses in dogs are entirely benign.

There are many different types of skin masses, including lipoma, papilloma, follicular cysts, and more. Each has a different appearance and a different cause. But, one thing they all have in common is that they are not cancerous. Some of these growths will go away in time, while others will remain. Some of them may even grow. 

If you notice an abnormal growth on your dog, schedule an appointment with your vet to have it checked. Your vet will likely biopsy the growth to confirm that it’s non-cancerous and then make a treatment plan. In many cases, treatment won’t be necessary, but for some growths, medication or surgical removal might improve your dog’s mobility, reduce the possibility of infection, or eliminate pain.

4. Skin Infection

Skin infections are relatively common in dogs and often result from parasites or as side effects from underlying conditions. Skin infections can be bacterial or fungal. Bacterial infections can occur when the typical bacterial ecosystem on the skin’s surface is disrupted, often due to chronic exposure to moisture. Fungal infections can develop when a dog’s immune system is compromised, causing a change in the levels of fungi and bacteria present on the skin. 

Any dog can experience a skin infection, but they are most common in older dogs. Breeds like the Bassett Hound, Poodle, Dachshund, Maltese Terrier, and Cocker Spaniel are predisposed to skin infections. 

Symptoms of a skin infection on a dog include dry, flaky skin, itchiness or redness, ear infection, thickened skin, hair loss, peeling skin, and lesions.

If you notice irregularities in your dog’s skin, arrange a visit with your vet to determine the cause. In some cases, these conditions are indicative of an underlying medical condition. 

5. Vomiting or Diarrhea

There are many reasons your dog’s digestive system could become upset, from poisoning, stress, illness, allergies, and beyond. While irregular bowel movements and vomiting are not necessarily cause for concern, these can be symptoms of a more significant problem. Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea can also lead to dehydration, which can be serious if not corrected promptly.

If your dog is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, take note of any other symptoms they exhibit. Symptoms like lethargy, fever, and pale gums are all red flags. If diarrhea or vomiting doesn’t subside after 24 hours, contact your veterinarian. 

The Bottom Line

It’s always stressful when our dogs are sick, and the fact that they can’t communicate what’s wrong is highly inconvenient. With this in mind, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of your dog’s baseline. Keep your dog’s typical behaviors, energy levels, and tendencies in mind so you can spot any symptoms that appear abnormal. That way, when any strange behaviors or symptoms occur, you’ll know when it’s time to contact the vet.

Did you know that most pet owners agree that pet health insurance helps them afford large, unforeseen veterinary bills? If you don't have an insurance already, we recommend reading our article about pet health insurance, to answer any questions you might have before choosing the right insurance for your furry friend.

And remember, proactive care can keep your dog out of the vet’s office. Keep your dog active, feed them the best diet, and provide them with treats that will support their mind and body throughout their journey.