Common Diseases in Dogs

You know your dog would do anything for you. It’s part of their nature. They live to know that they’re taking good care of their people.

Of course, you’d do the same for your furry friend, which is why it’s so important that you understand what it looks like if they’re sick.

The 7 Most Common Diseases to Look Out for in Your Pup

If your family includes a member with four legs and a wagging tail, here are the diseases you need to watch out for to keep them healthy.

1. Cancer

The thought of your little guy or gal having cancer is terrifying for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that there’s really no way of preventing it. Cancer can arise for environmental reasons, but it can also be genetic.

This is why early detection is so important. The most common symptoms of cancer in dogs are:

  • Abnormal discharges from any orifice
  • Bad breath
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Lumps
  • Persistent sores
  • Sudden limp
  • Swelling
  • Trouble breathing, urinating, or defecating
  • Unexplained weight loss

Different veterinarians often have different views on how to treat cancer in dogs. If possible, consult a veterinary oncologist to see what their take is on the proper treatment.

2. Diabetes

Diabetes in dogs is rooted in a problem with how their bodies either produce or respond to insulin. If left untreated, diabetes can cause any of a number of different problems for your little buddy.

Fortunately, it’s generally very manageable.

If you notice any of the following symptoms in your furry friend, take them into a vet right away:

  • Cataract formation or even blindness
  • Change in appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive thirst or water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Skin infections
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Obese and female dogs may also run a greater chance of developing diabetes as they get older (after six).

Certain breeds may be more susceptible, too:

  • Australian Terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Keeshonds
  • Poodles
  • Samoyeds
  • Standard and Miniature Schnauzers

Juvenile diabetes may also affect keeshonds and golden retrievers more.

3. Heartworm

Heartworm is extremely easy to prevent. Chewable pills and topical treatments are both available – and very affordable – for protecting your pup.

That’s good, too, because if left untreated, heartworm can be fatal.

Your four-legged friend may have it if they display any of the following:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Unfortunately, some canines won’t show any symptoms until the infection has reached its latest stages – all the more reason to invest in prevention.

As mosquitoes are responsible for passing heartworm along, your pup is at greater risk if you live in areas where these insects are especially common. Still, given how affordable preventative treatments are, it’s best not to take any chances no matter where you live.

4. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is like the canine version of a chest cold in humans.

So, while it’s not fatal, it’s also not a lot of fun for your little friend. Usually, it involves a persistent, dry couch that will often culminate in gagging. Even though your dog otherwise seems perfectly healthy, the couch can even produce foamy phlegm.

In some cases, though, your puppy-pal will actually come down with a fever.

The name comes from one of the leading causes of kennel couch, which is an enclosed area with little air circulation (e.g. a kennel or shelter). Dogs can also pass it to each other through shared spaces and water dishes.

Vaccination is, by far, the best form of prevention. Most kennels won’t even take a pup unless their parent can produce proof of vaccination.

5. Parvovirus

Parvovirus is extremely contagious in dogs and can lead to life-threatening illnesses. It generally attacks cells in a canine’s intestinal tract but also goes after their white blood cells. In puppies, parvovirus may damage their heart, causing lifelong cardiac issues.

The symptoms of this disease include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe vomiting

This potentially dangerous disease can infect any animal that comes into contact with an infected dog’s feces – including humans. It can even survive for months on inanimate objects, like floors, carpets, food bowls, clothes, and shoes. The virus is especially common in urban areas where numerous unvaccinated dogs may regularly interact.

The good news is that vaccinations are enough to keep your fur-baby safe and sound.

6. Rabies

For most pup parents, rabies needs no introduction. It spreads through the bite of an infected animal and almost always results in death. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your pup if they’re in wooded areas, where they may come in contact with bats, skunks, foxes, raccoons, and other animals they may try to chase after.

As with parvovirus, vaccination is the key to keeping your furry friend safe. Many states actually require that pets be vaccinated against rabies for this very reason. It’s 100% preventable.

Rabies often results in immediate death. Other times, look for the following symptoms:

  • Biting, chewing, and licking at the bite site
  • Changes in behavior
  • Disorientation
  • Displays of aggression
  • Eating inedible objects
  • Fever
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Hiding in dark places
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paralysis of the hind legs
  • Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles
  • Seizures

Symptoms may not appear for up to 10 days after infection, so if you see any of the above, get your dog to the vet immediately.

7. Ringworm

Ringworm is a highly-contagious fungal infection that generally results in patchy spots of hair loss. Other symptoms include skin lesions on the head, ears, forelimbs, and paws. Sometimes, these symptoms may spread all over the dog’s body. In less severe cases, you may only notice a handful of broken hairs. It’s also possible for a canine to have ringworm but show no symptoms at all.

Veterinarians will usually prescribe a topical treatment to cure the ailment, but medication is sometimes necessary.

Don’t Expect Your Pup to Speak Up

While your four-legged friend may be very forthright if they’re not feeling well, this won’t always be the case.

Instead, it’s important that you remain vigilant and regularly check on your little guy or gal for any of the symptoms described above.

By catching them early, you could come to your pup’s rescue before things get any worse. You know they’d do the same for you.

2022