Canine Health Week

(13th – 19th November 2017)

What is Canine Health Week?

Canine Health Week, which replaces the previous National Canine Health Testing Week, is an annual initiative to highlight resources, research and information to help make a difference to dog health, drawing attention to any known health issues rather than just those with an available health test or screening scheme. 

What issues are being highlighted in 2017?

This year Canine Health Week highlights the most common health issues affecting dogs in Britain, with the aim of enabling owners to familiarise themselves with these conditions in order to establish the healthcare needs of their dogs.

What are the most common conditions affecting dogs?

The most common disorders affecting dogs in the UK, according to data gathered by VetCompass, a project at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), are ear canal disease, followed by dental disease, anal sac impaction, overgrown nails and arthritis.

Anal sac impaction
Dogs have two small glands on either side of their bottom, which produce a smelly oily liquid that helps them to identify each other (by sniffing each other’s bottoms) and mark their territory. Your dog’s anal gland usually empty naturally when having a poo, but if the gland becomes blocked they can become infected, swollen and painful, often causing them to scoot on their bottom in an effort to relieve the discomfort.

Overgrown nails
Long claws are more prone to chipping, tearing, splitting and breaking, which can be very painful and may require veterinary treatment. As well as being prone to damage, when a dog stands or walks on long clawed paws it puts pressure on the wrong parts of the foot, causing pain and discomfort.
Arthritis is a painful and common condition that is often most severe in older dogs, but can develop at any age. Heavier dogs and larger breeds are also predisposed. This condition is one of the main causes of chronic pain in our beloved pets. Arthritis can be a very debilitating disease, greatly reducing a dog’s quality of life and ability to enjoy the most basic of daily activities. The most common signs of arthritis are: limping and lameness, stiffness (especially after resting, or on cold/damp days), wincing or yelping when moving/area being touched.


Key messages

It is important that dog owners understand and are familiar with the common disorders that might affect their dogs. Regular care, cleaning and general checking of your dog can make a big difference and can help to avoid some of these problems.

As well as being aware of general problems it is crucial that dog owners familiarise themselves with breed-specific conditions.  Different dog breeds can have different profiles when it comes to health and the Breed Information Centre offers a wealth of information on the health of each breed.

What should I do if I think my dog may be affected by the health issues highlighted during Canine Health Week?

The Kennel Club is not a veterinary organisation, so if you would like more information, or clinical advice on any of the issues raised during this awareness week, then we recommend you speak to your local veterinary practice. If you have not yet registered with a veterinary practice, you can find the details of local veterinary practices here

Where can I find out more about the VetCompass study?

The research used during Canine Health Week 2017 is based on the published VetCompass research paper “Prevalence of disorders recorded in dogs attending primary-care veterinary practices in England”, which can be accessed here.  Alternatively a poster summarising the research can be found here.

Where can I find out about other health issues that may affect my dog?

A number of articles about common health problems that may impact on your dog’s life can be found in our Pet Health Information area.


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