Many people think of dogs as the ideal first pet. They are trainable, they are lovable, and they are loyal, but they are also as prone to illness and injury as we are. For that reason alone I feel that gerbils make better first pets, but good luck convincing all the eight year old children out there that a gerbil is a better first pet for them than a puppy.
If you have had to yield to the gerbil vs. puppy debate, and are now in possession of a new dog, then there are three common dog health problems that you should be well aware of. Not all dog health problems are life threatening, but having a general knowledge of them will help you to keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe.
It is important to make sure that your dog, especially if it is not well trained, is always supervised. An unsupervised and untrained dog can run out into the road, take on dangerous wild animals, and in general get into sticky situations that could end in broken bones, lacerations, and other painful and dangerous injuries. Keep a pet first aid kit on hand along with the number to the nearest emergency animal services clinic.
2. Gastrointestinal Distress.
Luckily, dogs have short digestion tracts and therefore are not likely to suffer from too many infections. However, dogs are likely to get into foods they should not stay away from, and they are likely to also eat things that are not food. Supervising your dog is the safest way to avoid this kind of health problem, but it is also important to familiarize yourself with the human foods which are not acceptable for dogs. If your dog is acting differently, not drinking, or not eating, these can be signs for gastrointestinal distress and require a visit to the veterinarian.
3. Predisposed genetic problems.
Some dogs, like Pugs, are predisposed to respiratory problems. Other dogs, like German Shepherds, have a tendency to suffer from joint problems. Dachshunds often suffer from spinal injuries, and Pit Bulls are prone to food and skin allergies. If possible, before even choosing a dog, do the research to determine which breeds are healthiest and which you are most prepared to care for in the event that they suffer from any predisposed conditions.
Whatever dog health problems you encounter with your dog, be sure to seek out the help of a licensed veterinarian before making diagnosis or treatment decisions for yourself. The internet is full of helpful information, but only a doctor can ensure that your dog stays healthy.