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Pet Health

Dog Breed Health Facts and Advice

Dogs are loyal and loving companions – as the saying goes, they’re man’s best friend. But just like us, dogs can fall ill, with many problems needing long-term veterinary care.

Find out more about dogs and the illnesses they can face with our interactive pet profiles below.

You can take a look at our dog insurance and puppy insurance policies to ensure your pet is protected in the case of an emergency.

Click on the hotspots below for illnesses seen in dogs

Dog health

The joy of dogs

Dogs make for incredible companions.

They're the only creatures in the whole of the animal kingdom that can read emotions in the human face, so they know at a glance if we're angry, happy or sad.

Skin conditions

The skin is the largest organ of a dog’s body and a number of disorders can affect it. For example, dogs can suffer from allergies that lead to dermatitis (skin inflammation). Allergies can be caused by many different items, including things that are inhaled (such as pollen or dust mites), items that are eaten (for example, wheat), items that the dog comes into contact with (for example, washing powders), or bites from parasites such as fleas. Another skin problem, pyoderma (meaning ‘infection of the skin’) is usually caused by bacteria, fungi (‘ringworm’) or yeasts. Skin disorders can be managed using various treatments, usually required long-term, which means the dog can get on with enjoying life.


Skin conditions are the third most common illnesses we see in dogs


Heart disease

Heart disease in dogs is classified as either congenital heart disease (which means ʻborn with itʼ) or acquired heart disease (which means the disease develops later in life). Both of these defects can lead to a state called ʻheart failureʼ, wherein the heart struggles to pump blood around the body. Early diagnosis of heart problems is key, because if they progress to the ʻheart failureʼ stage, treatment will then be needed for the rest of the dogʼs life.


We paid £3,586 to treat Herbie the Greyhound for heart disorders in 2015


Lumps and bumps

All dogs can develop masses (lumps and bumps) in the layers of fat, skin and muscle that cover their bodies. These can be caused by tumours, infections, blood-filled spaces and cysts, and are more or less visible depending on whether they are near to the surface of the skin or in the deeper layers. Examples include lipomas (soft fatty lumps), warts, abscesses and tumours, which can be benign or malignant. Treatments and outcomes depend on the size, location and exact nature of the lump.


We paid £3,271 to treat Bruno the crossbreed dog for lumps in 2015


Gastrointestinal disorders

All dogs can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis or an obstruction within the bowel (due the dog to eating stones, cloth or string, for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery.


Gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common illnesses we see in dogs



Arthritis means ‘inflammation of the joint’ and is very common in dogs. There are many different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and immune-mediated arthritis. The most common form in dogs is osteoarthritis, which is also known as ‘degenerative joint disease’. This type always involves an underlying issue (wear and tear, for example) or a specific condition (such as cruciate rupture or hip dysplasia, which are common in many larger breeds and can occur in young dogs). Arthritis is an irreversible condition but can be successfully managed to help the dog enjoy a good quality of life.


In our experience, dogs are most likely to need treatment for joint problems.


Dog breeds

Find out more about your breed - More coming soon