Symptoms of Common Dog Diseases

Common dog diseases and treatment

Most dogs are healthy when you first bring them home, however, some may develop symptoms of common dog diseases a few weeks, months, or years later. This article will discuss what to do if your dog suddenly starts displaying symptoms of common dog diseases and how you can prevent illnesses from happening in the future.

Allergic Eczema

One of the most common problems seen by vets, this is certainly the most prevalent skin ailment. The allergic reaction may be caused by fleas, mites or by vegetation.

Allergies to plants cause the worst type of eczema as they flare up every time the pet roams in the garden or may recur at certain times of the year corresponding to the particular plant’s growth. The types of vegetation most likely to cause allergies are wandering jew, paspalum, Kikuyu, and buffalo grass.

The condition is more common among low-slung breeds, such as dachshunds, corgis, and cocker spaniels. An acute red rash will appear suddenly on the underbelly – with or without angry pimples, pus, or larger infected areas.

Treatment may aim to localize the cause of the allergy.

Dogs that are taken for a run through a park or thick undergrowth often develop a rash that night or the next day. Regular administration of anti-inflammatory drugs may be necessary throughout the summer.

Bad Breath

Raw meat or meat buried too long down at the bottom of the garden can cause bad breath in your pet. Bad breath can also be caused by infections of the mouth such as:

  • Tartar build-up on the teeth leading to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).
  • Ulcers, viral attacks, and bacterial infection of the tonsils or lymph glands of the mouth.

Most causes of bad breath require veterinary treatment.


This has become prominent in the last 20 years. It’s not a gastrointestinal worm but one which lives in the heart. Adult worms are long (12 – 30cm), slender, resembling very thin strands of spaghetti.

Heartworm can be fatal. In dogs, the main effects are a mechanical obstruction to circulation, inflammation of blood vessels, lung embolism, chronic heart failure, damage to the liver, and a build-up of fluid in the abdomen.

Mosquitoes are carriers, biting one dog and transferring the worms from its bloodstream to the next dog they bite. It is also possible for a pregnant bitch to infect her unborn young with larvae migration through the placenta.

This is a major problem. Once the worms are destroyed they break up or dislodge from the heart into the circulatory system and so may cause artery blockages in vital parts of the dog’s body. Treatment requires careful monitoring of these side effects.

On rare occasions embolisms from the breaking-up dead worms may occur from five to 30 days after treatment, causing high temperatures, increased rate of breathing, coughing, lethargy, and failure to eat. The dog should be taken immediately to a vet.

Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) should be given at a daily rate of 12mg per kilogram weight of the dog. The drug is given orally, beginning when the dog is certified free of heartworm and continuing throughout the mosquito season and up to 80 days afterward.

Blood tests are advisable every month, the dog should be housed mosquito-proof kennel at night treated with suitable repellents.



Ringworm is a rather misleading name given to infections caused by a fungus infection of the skin. The name is derived, from the circular or ring-like sores it normally produces on the animal’s skin. There is no association whatever with any worm parasite.

Infection is by means of spores that are transferred by direct contact of one animal with another or by spores shed onto bedding, carpets, or kennels. Spores can remain infective in the environment for a very long time, up to one year. They are also resistant to the most common disinfectants.

Newly acquired infections are often not very obvious. In kittens, the fungus can produce a very diffuse thinning of the hair and the skin may not show the characteristic ring-like sores. The fungus attacks the outer layer of the skin and hairs producing a dry scaly skin and breaking of the hair shafts.

Veterinarians use a special lamp to examine animals suspected of having ringworm. Under an ultra-violet lamp, the affected areas omit a green fluorescence which makes it possible to detect even very small areas of infection.

Ringworm in dogs is usually the more discrete type, with definite areas of hair loss and scab formation. The most common sites are those which have come in contact with an infected animal. The nose, side of the face, and forelegs usually show the most advanced lesions. If the dog has shared the bedding with infected animal lesions may occur on the undersurface of the body.

Treatment of ringworm must be vigorous and must involve tracing the source of the infection. In most cases, a newly introduced kitten or puppy is found to be the culprit. Often veterinarians are called upon to examine the family pet after ringworm has been diagnosed in members of the family.

Round red spots that become quite itchy on the arms, neck, and face are the common sites in humans. Infections of the legs and buttocks can occur where the family shares a chair with the cat or dog.

Local treatment of the skin with ointments or gels is used. Care should be taken to apply the treatment to the surrounding skin and not just to the obvious bare area. Whenever possible the animal should be completely bathed in an effective fungicide, as newly infected areas are not always easily seen.

In most cases, a tablet containing a drug called Griseofulvin is prescribed. This is the most effective means of stopping the spread of the infection to other parts of the body.

Bedding should be changed and any loose hairs thoroughly vacuumed where the animal may have been lying. Before stopping these measures have the animal checked by your veterinarian to make sure all areas of the body are free.

It is very wise to have any new kitten or puppy checked before introducing it into the home. This is particularly important in stray animals or where the origins of the young animal are not known.



Vomiting is controlled by a center in the brain which can be stimulated by disagreeable odors, tastes, smells, toxins, drugs, and poisons. Vomiting is very weakening for the dog and can be caused by:

  • Indigestion, overeating, bad food (particularly if the dog is likely to dig up bones or old meat), poisons.
  • Acute abdominal problems such as pancreatitis or peritonitis, swallowing a bone, a deep internal wound, a ruptured organ after a car accident.
  • Disease such as distemper, hepatitis, pyometra, septic kidney, constipation.
  • It can be due to a dilation of the food pipe between the throat and the stomach in young puppies. This condition can be rectified to a point by making the dog stand on its hind legs to eat and giving it small quantities at a time.
  • Ticks. One of the initial signs of tick poisoning is vomiting and salivation.
  • Drugs. Digitalis or heart tablets are given in excess cause vomiting. Stop the tablets for a day and then commence at half the recommended dosage. Certain antibiotics and morphine can cause vomiting. In any such case cease the medication and phone your vet.
  • Nervous problems, such as car or motion sickness or lesions within the brain.

When you take a vomiting dog to your vet it is important to know whether the vomiting is related to eating, how many times a day it vomits, and whether the food is digested or not. The color also is important and if possible take a sample of the vomit along with you.

Where the dog appears healthy but vomits occasionally, there is generally no need for concern. Dogs tend to vomit about once a week or once every 10 days. This is perfectly normal.


Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease which is universal in dog populations and is transmitted through contaminated objects or by close contact. The incubation period is about 9 days, the first sign being a high temperature for 1 to 3 days.

The temperature then returns to normal before the second run of high fever, lasting a week or more. Pus accumulates in the corners of the eyes which squint and redden. Sometimes there is a pus-filled nasal discharge and diarrhea.

The pregnant mother should be immunized halfway through the gestation period, giving the puppies an increased immunity at birth. They should be immunized at 6 weeks and then again at 16 weeks.

Because it is caused by a viral agent, treatment is not always effective. However, it is always preferable to try to treat the dog because even the most serious cases can sometimes show a remarkable improvement. Treatment consists of anti-canine distemper serum, plus supportive therapy.


An early symptom of diabetes in dogs is losing weight and drinking lots of water. Most diabetic dogs lose weight despite heavy eating – as much as a pound or more a day. They are thirsty because they need large quantities of water to dissolve the unused sugar in their bodies. As a result of excess drinking, they urinate frequently. They can’t burn the sugar they need for energy, they readily become weak and tired.

Ear Infection

Most dogs at some stage of their life will suffer some form of ear problem. Unfortunately, some dogs are doomed to suffer chronic ear irritations all their lives. The early recognition of ear disease can probably minimize the risk of chronic ear disease.

Signs of ear disease are easily recognized. The dog may show irritation by shaking his head and scratching at the affected ear vigorously with its hind legs. Such vigorous misuse can very quickly convert a mere reddening and itching of the lining of the ear canal into a weeping, inflamed, painful condition.

The ear canal is not very well ventilated and the trapped air tends to be moist. Such conditions favor the presence of various bacteria and fungi, which when the lining of the ear is damaged in any way, quickly invade the tissues and proliferate, producing in many cases a complex mixed infection.

Dogs have large variations in the size and shape of the external ears. Breeds with long pendulous ears tend to have convoluted ear canals. Drainage and ventilation of the structure are thus impaired and ear infections are much more likely. Breeds that have dense hair growing in the ear canal develop thick plugs of matted hair that block the opening of the canal and which act as an irritant to the sensitive lining of the canal.

Grass seeds cause intense discomfort when they enter the ear. The dog vigorously shakes its head, paws at the affected ear, and tends to tilt its head to keep the ear canal as horizontal as possible.

Ear mites commonly affect young puppies but may be present in older dogs. These small insects live on the surface of the skin of the ear canal. The tissues react to their presence by becoming inflamed and intensely itchy and by producing a dark reddish, brown waxy exudate that often blocks the canal.

Just as the causes of ear disease in the dog are very varied, so must be the treatments. There is no universal ear drop that can cure all ear problems. Until the precise cause is established, it is unwise to administer any medications at home.

Every veterinarian will have seen a dog treated for months with proprietary “ear canker drops”, that has had a grass seed lodged in the ear. The treatment for ear mites differs from the treatment for a chronic mixed bacterial and fungal infection. Before even the cause of the condition can be established in some patients, excessive hair and accumulations of wax must be removed.

Recently a new concept in the treatment of some chronic ear infections has been introduced. It has been known for a long time that by making the tissues within the ear more acid, the proliferation of most bacteria and fungi is inhibited.

Some of the previous preparations that were used to do this were fairly irritant in themselves, and the animal resented their use so much that owners naturally gave up the treatment. A new preparation does not attempt to alter the acid-base ratio within the ear so radically, and when combined with an efficient wax solvent seems to be a well-tolerated means of keeping the ear clean.

Care should be taken with any ear preparation to use it as advised by your veterinarian. Too-vigorous attempts to clean the ear with cotton buds are more likely to further irritate the ear and cause greater discomfort.

If ointments are prescribed, they should be used in sufficient quantity and frequently enough to coat the damaged tissues within the ear. Early diagnosis, specific remedies, and efficient carrying out of the treatment are the all-important factors in the control of ear diseases.

Unbalanced Diet

Your favorite four-legged friend could be heading for obesity, infertility, and early death — and it could be your fault.

If your cat or dog’s diet is not balanced your furry friend could be gummy, overweight, and arthritic by mid-life, according to the results of a survey of pet foods published in Bestie Paws.

Although some brands of canned pet food claimed to be “balanced and complete”. Bestie Paws warned that pets should not be fed on canned foods alone. Cats and dogs needed dry food or uncooked bones as well as canned food to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

And because canned foods tasted so yummy to some pets, especially to dogs, many pets were in danger of overeating and becoming obese.

Obesity predisposed pets to circulatory and joint diseases, as well as skin problems, heat intolerance, infertility, and lowered resistance to diseases, all of which could lead to premature death.

Pet-food manufacturers were moving into the fresh meat sector with a range of canned foods containing little or no vegetable matter.

The meat in canned dog food and meat-based cat food tested by Bestie Paws came from licensed slaughterhouses and generally consisted of lungs, heart, kidneys, and other organs not used for human consumption.

Bestie Paws recommended that the brand and “flavor” of canned food in your pet’s diet should be varied to avoid ending up with a fussy eater who was “addicted” to a particular dish.

Bestie Paws also warned against feeding dog food to cats. Cats needed more protein in their diets than dogs did, and a long-term diet of dog food could leave your puss with a protein deficiency.

Dog Euthanasia

There are stringent penalties today for people who leave fatally injured dogs to suffer a lingering and painful death. Humanity has cried out against them, and the law requires painless death for unreasoning creatures. The law is also merciful to condemned men. Their euthanasia is made as humane, quick and painless as medical science makes possible. The incurably ill must linger in agony until their spent body gives up the struggle.

Find specific details on dog euthanasia from:

  3. Putting a dog to sleep with Benadryl
  4. Dog heart failure when to euthanize
  5. Dog lymphoma when to euthanize
  6. Dog brain tumor when to euthanize
  7. Bladder cancer in dogs when to euthanize

Takeaway: Euthanizing a dog is never easy. It is a decision that is made after much consideration and the owner should be 100% sure that it is the right thing to do. In most cases, the dog has reached the end of its life and no treatment will cure or reverse the disease or condition.

When is it time to euthanize a dog?

Our dogs are family members, but they’re also our pets. While we love them unconditionally, sometimes it might be necessary to put them down. But when is it time to euthanize your dog?

Treating the problem

The first step is to start by trying to treat the problem. If you’re dealing with an injury or illness, see a veterinarian. However, if your pet has a degenerative condition that doesn’t seem to be improving, this might be the time to consider putting her down. Degenerative conditions include progressive retinal atrophy in dogs and cancer. Chronic pain can also be an indication for euthanasia when other treatments have failed.

When considering what to do with a sick pet, ask your vet for all possible options and think very carefully about what you want to do before making your final decision.

Assess the quality of life

Treating the condition is only part of the equation; the pet’s quality of life, as well as that of its human family members, also has to be taken into account. As much as we may love our pets and want to keep them around when they are suffering and have lost their ability to enjoy life, it may be time to let them go. In addition, there are legal issues involved. Some states have passed “put down” laws requiring that animals who are suffering be humanely euthanized.

There are times when even with treatment, a dog’s condition may not improve and its quality of life will remain poor. Sometimes an illness progresses despite treatment because the body’s defenses are weakened by age or other conditions. In these instances, it is best for everyone involved if the animal is euthanized.

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