Diagnosing Common Dog Ailments

It is an unfortunate fact that our pets contract diseases of a variety of types. Recognizing some of the most common dog ailments can help you to treat your pet's diseases early on, and can also help to ensure that he enjoys a long, happy life. The following is a brief overview of the diagnosis techniques and processes for some of the most frequently occurring canine ailments and health conditions.


Canine arthritis is a very common condition among older dogs; roughly 1 in 5 dogs over the age of 7 years old will suffer from some form of canine arthritis. Unfortunately, this condition also strikes younger dogs as well, particularly in larger breeds. Although arthritis is a permanent, incurable condition, it is possible to moderate your pet's symptoms with the help of dietary and medicinal therapies.

Diagnosis of canine arthritis involves a thorough physical examination and analysis of your pet's symptoms. Arthritic dogs have a difficult time moving, getting up and sitting down. Your pet may seem stiff and uncomfortable. The veterinarian will examine your pet's gait and feel over your pet's bones and joints for signs of inflammation and swelling. In most cases, the veterinarian will also order a series of x-rays and, potentially, blood tests in order to determine the cause of your pet's symptoms for certain.

Worms and Other Parasites

Dogs contract parasites in a variety of ways. While external parasites like fleas and ticks may be irritating, they rarely cause long term damage. Internal parasites, like roundworms and tapeworms, may contribute to serious side effects like loss of weight and anemia.

In order to diagnose parasites, your veterinarian will examine your pet's skin or stool under a microscope. For most parasites, signs of eggs and waste are visible with the help of a microscope. Your veterinarian may also test your pet's blood in certain cases.


This disease occurs in a large number of dogs worldwide. It is an inflammation of the gums and mouth and is caused by lack of proper dental hygiene. You can easily prevent this condition by brushing your dog's teeth regularly with an approved veterinary toothpaste.

In order to diagnose periodontitis, your veterinarian will rely primarily upon a visual examination of your pet's gums and teeth. This disease may cause damage to your pet's heart and other internal organs if left untreated.


Dogs cough for a variety of reasons, and a cough may not be sufficient to make a diagnosis in and of itself. Typically, if your dog coughs frequently, this is a symptom of some other underlying disease. Potential causes of canine cough include heart disease, heartworms, tuberculosis or a number of other conditions.

Diagnosing your pet's cough typically involves a thorough physical exmination for other symptoms. If your pet has developed a cough, take note of when and where he coughs most frequently. Nighttime coughs are a primary indicator for heart disease, while a dog that coughs as he is drinking water may have laryngitis or common kennel cough. Bacterial cultures can be helpful in determining the source of your pet's cough as well.