The Most Common Health Conditions in Adult Dogs

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The adult years tend to be the healthiest years for most dogs. That doesn't mean they are worry-free, however. As with people, any number of problems can crop up.

Communicable diseases, such as canine distemper, parvovirus and rabies, can sicken and kill adult dogs who have not been properly immunized. A year after the puppy vaccinations are completed, adults should receive a booster vaccination. Following this, they should receive regular vaccinations based on their age and lifestyle, as directed by your veterinarian. 

Intestinal parasites can also affect adults. Your veterinarian can diagnose intestinal parasites from a stool sample and prescribe appropriate treatment as well as preventive medications.

Heartworms can be deadly. You should have your dog tested yearly for heartworms, and placed on heartworm preventive.

External parasites, especially fleas and ticks, can make your dog's life miserable. Not only do their bites itch, but some dogs are allergic to flea saliva; a single flea bite causes the dog to itch all over. Fleas can carry tapeworms, so if your dog swallows a flea, he can become infected. Ticks can carry several diseases, such as ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Keep your dog on a monthly flea preventive that is also effective against ticks. Some types of mites can be even itchier than fleas. Sarcoptic mange mites cause hair loss and intense itchiness. Ear mites cause itchy ears, so the dog may shake his head and scratch at his ears, which often have a dark discharge. Your veterinarian can diagnose these conditions and prescribe treatment.

Allergies most often arise in adulthood, with itchiness that can affect any area of the body. The skin often becomes infected from constant chewing, biting, scratching and licking. Dogs can be allergic to fleas, foods, seasonal pollens and a variety of other allergens. Your veterinarian can diagnose the problem through allergy testing or by placing the dog on a special diet, if food allergy is suspected, and can make treatment recommendations based on the results.

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