Our pets are like our babies. We want them to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, like us, pets are prone to various health problems. Some are serious and even life-threatening, while others are preventable and relatively mild. 

Understanding the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of the eight common pet ailments will help you keep your pets in good health. 

A fluffy white dog on a trail

Eight common pet ailments and their treatments

Here are the eight most common pet ailments and their symptoms, as well as natural treatments for each ailment:


Dogs, cats, and other pets can have allergies. Like humans, these allergies could be weather or environment-related. You may also see pets with food allergies. One of my dogs, for instance, is allergic to dairy. Not beef, just dairy. This is a problem because another of my dogs won’t eat food without cheese on it. Obviously, we have to work to ensure one dog does not eat the other’s food. 

I cite the anecdote above to illustrate the trouble that allergies can cause. While most often not life-threatening, allergies can cause pain. If your pet has a food allergy, the main symptoms will be stomach upset. Digestive problems can be caused by many things, so visit your vet to ensure allergies are the problem. Other allergy symptoms include

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Other signs of discomfort, including itching, licking or chewing excessively

There is no real treatment for allergies other than prevention. Keeping your pet bathed, especially in the spring, will help them stave-off allergy symptoms. Your vet may also be able to prescribe allergy medication if their symptoms get too bad. 


All pets can get arthritis, but it is far more common in elderly dogs. One in five dogs will suffer from arthritis in their lifetime. Overweight dogs are more prone to arthritis, as are large breed dogs like mastiffs or Great Danes. Bigger bodies put more stress on the joints, which can cause arthritis as your pet ages. 

Take your pet to the vet if they are getting to their feet much slower than normal. If they are struggling to stand this may be a case of canine elbow dysplasia, whereas swaying or struggling to walk up the stairs could be a sign of canine hip dysplasia. Both of these conditions lead to arthritis, so make sure to get your pup to the vet if you notice any lameness or decreased range of motion. 

Aside from the above mentioned, unfortunately there are not many signs of arthritis, as most dogs cope with the condition stoically. That is why it is so important to watch our dogs closely as they age for any major personality or habit changes. 

Like allergies, arthritis is treatable but not curable. You can help your pet manage their symptoms through weight loss, gentle exercise, and anti-arthritic drugs. 


Cataracts can develop as your pet ages. This one is a large concern. While not life-threatening, cataracts can greatly affect your pet’s vision. Cataracts can also develop in young pets as a genetic abnormality. When you adopt a puppy, have your vet check for signs of cataracts. 

Your vet will be able to check for cataracts easily. They are easily visible in the pet’s eye and cause the eye to become white or cloudy. There is cataract surgery for pets but depending on where you live and your type/size of pet, the surgery could be quite expensive.  

Ear Infections

Pets with floppy ears are especially prone to ear infections. When the ear flops down, air does not circulate as well. It is also harder for dirt and debris to get removed from the ear. If your pet plays outside a lot and afterwards begins pawing at their ears, they may have an ear infection. 

Ear infections can be diagnosed by a veterinarian. They are treatable with antibiotics. Additionally, you can prevent ear infections by learning how to clean your pet’s ears properly. 

A cat sitting in grass

Kennel Cough

Pets who spend time at daycare or in a kennel could be exposed to kennel cough. While it may be worrying to hear your pet cough so much, kennel cough is similar to common cold for humans. If the symptoms get worse or the kennel cough lasts for a long time, we recommend visiting your vet to receive some antibiotics. Otherwise, the kennel cough will likely clear up on its own. 

Symptoms of kennel cough include 

  • Runny nose and eyes.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Sneezing.
  • Honking, sounding cough. 


Influenza, unlike kennel cough, is much more serious. Dogs contract a type of flu named Type A influenza, or dog flu. This strain of flu is not transferable to humans. Dog flu is very similar to the human flu in that its symptoms include digestive issues, vomiting, and lethargy. You should take your dog to the vet and begin using an antiviral if you notice any symptoms of dog flu. 

Cat flu is more like a cold in humans. You will notice sneezing, blocked nose, runny nose, and even some digestive issues. Unless your cat is very young or very old, cat flu should not harm them. If you do have a young cat or a feline approaching or in her golden years, remember that they are probably unable to regulate their own temperature, and leaving them to grow cold may lead to a risk of hypothermia. It’s recommended therefore that you invest in a cat bed or cat cave made from felt or wool that will regulate your feline’s temperature and keep them cozy. Your vet can also prescribe an antiviral medication. 

Fleas and Ticks

If your pet goes outdoors, they can contract fleas and ticks. These pests are more than just annoying, they can cause major problems. Luckily, flea and tick prevention is widely available for dogs and cats. Signs of both fleas and ticks include excessive scratching. 

If your pet has a tick, do not just pull it off of their body. Use a flea removal mediation to ensure the entire tick is extracted. Fleas require shampoo treatments and intensive cleaning of your entire home. 


One of the biggest problems with ticks is that they can spread heartworm. Heartworms are a life-threatening ailment in your pet. Dogs and cats can contract heartworm. Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of your pet. Usually, there are more than just a worm or two. In fact, several hundred worms can live in a dog’s heart for five to seven years. 

Signs of heartworm include

  • Trouble breathing
  • Excessive coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Thankfully, heartworm is preventable through mediation. However, if your pet does contract heartworms there are treatment options. 

Final thoughts

No one ever likes to think about their beloved pet getting sick. But, with the information on this page, you can at least be familiar with the signs and treatments of eight of the most common pet ailments.