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The biggest health concerns for dogs and cats [eBook]

It’s important to be aware of potential problems for dogs and cats so you can always protect your pet. In this free downloadable eGuide The biggest health concerns for dogs and cats, Dr Rosemary explains some of the most common health concerns. Australians love their pets, with statistics showing we have the highest household rate of pet ownership globally (62%) – that’s around 5.7 million homes having at least one pet.

It’s also a billion-dollar industry. Collectively, we spend over $12.2 billion every year on our furry friends, including $2.2 billion on veterinary expenses. So, it’s safe to say we spend a lot on our pets.

But just a little know-how could end up saving you on expensive visits to the vet and after-care medicines. That’s why we’ve compiled a free, downloadable eGuide to cover some of the biggest health concerns for dogs and cats.

We sat down with veterinarian Dr. Rosemary to talk about what pet owners can do to protect their furry friends.

The big 6 health concerns

While there are plenty of potential risks that come with changing seasons (for more information, see Chapter 2: Seasonal health problems), Dr. Rosemary says there are six very common health concerns that every pet owner should be aware of.

Here’s Dr. Rosemary’s rundown of what they are, the signs to spot, how they should be treated and what owners can do to help prevent the problem. The below points are expanded upon within the eGuide.

Ear infections

What is it? Moisture and debris can become trapped in the ear canal, creating the ideal environment for bacterial and yeast infections to develop. Most infections are in the outer ear, causing itchiness, inflammation and pain, but if these aren’t treated, more serious infections in the middle and inner ear can develop, leading to balance problems, facial paralysis and deafness.


What is it? Intestinal worms can appear in both dogs and cats, with different types including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and whipworms. Your pet may have been born with these worms (contracted from their mother), picked them up from the environment or ingested via fleas (which contain tapeworm eggs). Heartworms are also a risk and are spread by mosquitoes.


What is it? Vomiting can be due to many underlying problems, including gastrointestinal problems (bacterial or viral infections, sudden dietary change, pancreatitis, ingestion of foreign objects, ulcers, food allergies, toxicity, bloat) or problems arising from other body systems, including liver, kidney, endocrine or neurological disease, cancer, systemic infections or medication side effects.


What is it? Many owners overfeed their pets as a way of showing love and don’t recognise obesity for what it is, which is a serious condition that predisposes to a range of diseases and problems. Research has shown that at least half of these owners underestimate the weight of their obese dog. Obesity is associated with diseases of the heart, liver and urinary tract, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, cruciate ligament rupture, increased surgical risk, and a reduced lifespan and quality of life

Dental issues

What is it? Dogs and cats accumulate bacteria, debris and plaque on the outside of their teeth, which over time forms tartar and eventually causes gingivitis and even tooth loss. This progressive destruction of gums, teeth and the structures that hold teeth in place is called ‘periodontal disease’ and is a very common disease of adult dogs and cats. In advanced cases, it can also lead to damage of the vital organs due to bacteria entering the bloodstream through the inflamed and compromised tissues.

Skin issues

What is it? Skin issues are prevalent in both dogs and cats and can cause them pain, discomfort, and itchiness, as well as being frustrating for owners. Some of the symptoms of skin problems are frequent biting, licking, or scratching, hair loss, bald patches, red and inflamed skin, thickened skin, unusual lesions of different size and colouring, lumps or swelling, sores, ulceration, flaky or crusty skin, unpleasant odour or obvious parasites.

What to do in an emergency

We never know when our pets might end up in danger, and in such instances it’s best to be informed about the crucial steps to take. Dr Rosemary outlines a step-by-step guide for managing an emergency situation involving your pet.

  • Stay calm
  • Remove any obvious danger to your pet and call your local vet clinic to alert them in advance.
  • Describe the symptoms in detail.
  • Follow any immediate advice from veterinary staff
  • Respond quickly – waiting too long to visit your vet decreases the chances of successful treatment.

Final words from Dr. Rosemary

The common health issues covered in this eBook affect many pets, but there are other serious issues that owners should be conscious of.

Download the Biggest health concerns for dogs and cats [eBook]

Image of Dr Rosemary Elliot

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance's Pet Care blog.