58 Common Health Problems In Dogs – In Details
Common Health Problems In Dogs
This section details many of the canine diseases and conditions which frequently affect dogs and dog health. Please click on the links below for additional information about individual diseases, including the cause of the disease, symptoms of the disease, diagnosis of the disease, treatment of the disease, and preventive measures which are recommended in dealing with the disease.
Common Health Problems In Dogs In Alphabetical Order:
a result of wounds which become infected with bacteria. Often, wounds sustained in fights with other animals are the cause of an abscess but any wound can become abscessed
a common skin disease in dogs and can cause your dog to become very uncomfortable. Itchiness can lead to severe skin lesions which are painful for your dog and ugly to look at. As the name implies, this skin disease is caused by an allergy. Fleas, food ingredients, dust mites, and pollens are frequently seen in allergies but there are many other potential allergens (substances which cause an allergic reaction).
Anal Gland Disease
is a common condition. Scooting the rump across the floor may be the first indication you see of anal gland disease in your dog. If mild, expression of the material contained in the anal glands may be curative. Left untreated, infected anal glands can form abscesses and can be very painful.
is a common disease in older dogs and can result in painful joints which may cause your dog to have difficulty running, jumping, or going up and down stairs. Arthritis may also cause your dog to become much less active than normal. Arthritis in dogs is caused by degenerative changes in the joint. There are a number of treatments available to relieve arthritis pain for your dog.
is a skin disorder also known as atopic dermatitis or allergic inhalant dermatitis. It is caused by an allergic reaction to substances in your dog’s environment which are inhaled or absorbed through your dog’s skin. It is common and will result in itchiness and sores on your dog’s skin.
in dogs usually, occur in the urinary bladder. They can range in size from very small, like grains of sand, to quite large, sometimes as large as your fist. They tend to cause difficult and sometimes painful urination, and can often result in blood in your dog’s urine. They can be the result of chronic bladder infections, inappropriate diets or metabolic health conditions which change the composition of dog urine.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
is a common disease in older dogs. It is the result of abnormal changes in the brain and the symptoms are not, as commonly thought, simply the result of “old age”. It is estimated that almost 1/2 of all dogs over the age of 8 years exhibit at least one sign of cognitive dysfunction. Some signs you might see are changes in your dog’s sleep/wake cycle, sudden loss of house-training and aimless wandering. Your dog may sometimes act as thought he/she is lost.
Canine Distemper Virus
is a contagious disease of dogs which is frequently fatal, especially in young dogs. Vaccination against canine distemper is an important part of routine dog health care and your dog should be vaccinated regularly for canine distemper virus.
Canine Tracheobronchitis / Kennel Cough
is frequently called “a kennel cough” because it is easily spread in kennel situations, such as those found in boarding facilities, animal shelters, and dog stores. It is characterized by a deep-throated, “honking” type of a cough. For most dogs, kennel cough is a self-limiting disease which will resolve itself with time, but some dogs may develop more serious cases with complications involving the lungs.
are common in older dogs. Cataracts will mature over time and cause the lens of the eye to become increasingly cloudy. When severe, cataracts can cause blindness. In younger dogs, cataracts are often a congenital and sometimes heritable condition.
Cherry Eye (Third Eyelid Gland Eversion)
results in ugly, reddish-colored “lump” at the corner of your dog’s eye. Your dog’s vision is not usually affected, but many people find the “cherry eye” unsightly. In addition, the exposed gland can become dry and inflamed because of constant irritation and can eventually become uncomfortable for your dog. Cherry eye can resolve spontaneously and then recur. Surgical repair is the only cure.
is one of the causes of protozoan diarrhea (diarrhea caused by small one-celled organisms known as “protozoa”). It is common in young dogs and frequently seen in animals adopted from shelters and dog shops. Resulting diarrhea can cause your puppy or dog to become weak and dehydrated.
Congestive Heart Failure
occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood effectively enough to maintain normal body functions. Common symptoms are coughing, difficulty breathing and tiring easily. Sometimes a bloated belly will be seen. Congestive heart failure can be the result of a heart valve malfunctioning or can be caused by disease of the heart muscle.
are redness and inflammation affecting the pink tissues surrounding the eyeball? Conjunctivitis has many causes and basically anything that irritates the area can be responsible. These causes may be allergies, infections, or foreign objects such as dust or hair. Conjunctivitis will make your dog’s eyes uncomfortable and itchy. Your dog may hold the affected closed and may have a discharge from the eye. Constipation occurs when a dog has difficulty moving the bowels, and the feces are usually very hard and often very dry. Constipation can be a serious, even life-threatening situation and has many causes.
are injuries to the front part of the eyeball itself. They can be extremely painful for your dog and, especially if not treated quickly, can result in permanent damage to your dog’s vision. External trauma to the eye can cause corneal injuries. Corneal injuries can also be the result of self-trauma (rubbing or pawing at the eye) in response to other types of eye disease.
Cruciate Knee Injuries
result from injury to the cruciate ligaments supporting your dog’s knee joint. They are especially common in overweight dogs. Cruciate knee injuries result in a sore leg and your dog will usually limp on the leg because of the pain. Often, a dog with an injured cruciate ligament will appear to walk on the toes of the affected leg though some dogs may refuse to bear any weight on the leg.
is a disease of the adrenal gland of the dog. Excessive adrenal gland secretions may cause your dog to have a poor hair coat, hair loss, an enlarged belly, excessive thirst, excessive urination and/or an excessive appetite. Cushing’s disease is also called “hyperadrenocorticism”. Cushing’s disease can be primary, with the adrenal glands being the diseased organ or secondary, with the pituitary gland acting abnormally and causing the adrenal glands to excrete excessively.
Cystitis is inflammation
in your dog’s urinary bladder. Cystitis may cause your dog to urinate more frequently than normal. Urinating may be painful for your dog and your dog may strain when urinating. You may also see blood in your dog’s urine. Both males and females can suffer from cystitis and the causes are often multi-factorial.
is a skin disease caused by a mite (a specific type of insect). It is especially common in puppies but can occur in older dogs as well. It causes hair loss and itchiness. In puppies, demodectic mange sometimes regresses spontaneously without treatment but the condition can progress to a more serious generalized infection. In older dogs, there is frequently a more serious underlying cause which weakens the dog and causes the mange infection to occur.
is common in dogs and can result in a painful mouth for your dog. Your dog may even lose some of the teeth as a result. Regular dental care is an important part of a routine dog health care program. Dental disease is one of the most common diseases seen in middle-aged to older dogs and can result in a continually painful mouth for your dog.
is caused by a deficiency of insulin, which causes increased levels of glucose (sugar) in your dog’s bloodstream. Symptoms vary, but often the first sign noticed is excessive thirst and excessive urination. If untreated, diabetes can become life-threatening. Daily insulin injections are often necessary to control symptoms of diabetes.
Disk Disease (Intervertebral)
is sometimes referred to as a “slipped disk”. It is a painful back condition, which can cause symptoms varying from pain in the limbs, back or neck to paralysis. For milder cases, conservative treatment with rest and pain medications may be indicated. For more severe disk disease where limb function is diminished or absent, surgery may be necessary.
is a disease of the heart muscle which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. It is common in certain breeds of dogs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, labored breathing, coughing, tiring easily, bloated belly, puffy or swollen legs, lethargy, and/or weight loss. It is often rapidly progressive but medications can be effective in controlling the symptoms of heart disease and may potentially slow the progression of the heart damage.
is a blood-filled area of swelling between the cartilage and skin of the ear of the dog. The most common cause is ear infections which result in your dog shaking the head excessively, although there are other potential causes involving the immune system also. There are a number of different treatments for ear hematomas but, where possible, the underlying cause must be treated as well. Often, this means treating any co-existing ear infections.
are parasites (insects) which live primarily inside the ear canal and cause your dog’s ears to be itchy and uncomfortable. Effective treatments are available to rid your dog of ear mites.
is a disease spread through the bite of an infected tick. It can be a serious, even life-threatening disease for your dog. People are also susceptible to being infected with ehrlichiosis. Though you can’t get the disease directly from your dog, it is possible for your dog to bring infected ticks into your home. For this reason, using products which help prevent your dog from picking up ticks is an important part of routine dog health care. Checking your dog’s skin on a regular basis for ticks is also recommended as part of a routine dog health care program. These simple tasks can help protect both you and your dog from a disease.
is a disease of the brain which causes seizures. Seizures can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. It is important for any dog experiencing a seizure to be examined by his/her veterinarian, even if recovery seems complete within a few moments after the seizure. If your dog experiences a seizure which does not stop within a few moments or experiences repeated seizures in a short period of time, you should seek emergency veterinary care.
include insects such as ticks and fleas. These pests frequently infect dogs and can make your dog very uncomfortable. They can also carry other types of diseases which can cause serious health issues for your dog. These include Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis.
Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus (GDV)
is a serious, frequently fatal disease resulting from a bloated stomach. In some cases, the stomach can even twist within the belly. As it twists, the blood supply may be cut off, resulting in a dying off of the wall of the stomach. As the stomach fills with fluid or air, it will place abnormal pressure on other body organs and can cause heart arrhythmias and circulatory difficulties. If you suspect your dog has a bloated stomach, you must seek veterinary care for your dog immediately in order to save your dog’s life.
is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. Though it is more common in some areas than others, it has been diagnosed in every state within the US. Heartworm disease is easily prevented with medications which are safe and easy to give. Regular screening of your dog’s blood for heartworms and preventive heartworm medications should be part of your routine dog health care program. Prevention of heartworm infestation is much easier and safer than treatment of heartworm disease.
is a deformity which causes a laxity of the hip joints. It is inherited from your dog’s parents. Early in life, it can sometimes cause abnormal gaits and pain for your dog. As your dog ages, the laxity within the hip joints causes arthritis to form in your dog’s hips, resulting in pain and discomfort.
is a disease of the thyroid gland in which the gland does not secrete sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. One of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism is hair loss and/or other abnormalities within the hair coat. It is also frequently associated with obesity in dogs. When diagnosed, the recommended treatment is supplementation of thyroid hormone on a daily basis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
is a disease affecting the stomach and/or intestinal tract of your dog. It can result in both vomiting and diarrhea and is usually chronic in nature. It can be a difficult disease to diagnose. It can be further complicated by parasites, food allergies, and other common gastrointestinal ailments.
include worms and other parasites which live inside your dog’s intestines. They frequently cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes weight loss (or the inability to gain weight properly). Regular examinations of your dog’s feces should be performed by your dog’s veterinarian. These fecal examinations are performed under a microscope and should be part of any routine dog health care program. Common intestinal parasites in the dog are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Giardia, and tapeworms.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)
is also sometimes called “dry eye”. It results from a lack of tear production within the eye. It causes excess mucus accumulation in the corner of the eyes and reddened eyes. The front part of the eye may appear dull and dry. Your dog may also squint and rub at the eyes. This is a painful disease for your dog and may require long-term medication.
is common, especially in older dogs. Symptoms may include increased thirst, increased urination, lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or a poor hair coat. Kidney disease can be acute or chronic in nature. Blood screens and urine tests can usually detect kidney disease. Routine blood and urine screening can often detect kidney disease early in the progress of the disease before symptoms become serious and preventive measures may be effective in slowing the progress of the disease.
causes kidney and liver disease and can be quite serious, even life-threatening. It is spread through contact with infected animals or contact with infected body fluids, such as urine. Rodents, such as rats and mice, are frequent carriers of the disease and your dog can become infected through contact with these rodents or their urine. Leptospirosis is more common in some areas than others and vaccinations may provide some protection for animals at risk for leptospirosis.
is transmitted to dogs (and people) through the bite of an infected tick. The most common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is lameness, which sometimes changes from one leg to another. Kidney disease is also possible and is serious when it occurs. Rarely, other syndromes involving the heart and neurologic systems have been reported.
are tumors located within the mammary gland, similar to breast cancers in women. A large percentage of these tumors are malignant (cancerous), although some are benign (not cancerous). Spaying at an early age can significantly decrease your dog’s chances of developing mammary tumors later in life and is one of the major health benefits of spaying your dog at a young age.
is an inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of pancreatitis may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and intense pain in the belly. Bloating of the belly may also be seen. Feeding a high fat diet has been implicated as a cause of pancreatitis in dogs.
is a disease of the bones affecting primarily young, large breed dogs. It causes pain and lameness. It is often referred to as “growing pains” because usually, the symptoms regress as the dog matures.
is a severe intestinal disease which causes bloody diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and dehydration. There is also a form of the disease which affects the heart. It is frequently fatal, especially in young dogs. Vaccination against parvovirus is an essential part of any routine dog health care program.
is a series of diseases affecting the uterus, mammary glands, and milk of nursing mothers. The uterine infection and infection within the mammary glands can make the nursing mother very ill. The infection in the milk can make the puppies extremely ill and even cause them to be unable to nurse. Left untreated, these diseases can be fatal for mother and puppies.
is one of the most common problems seen in dogs. Being over-weight predisposes your dog to numerous health problems which may be avoided by keeping your dog at the proper weight. Preventing obesity involves feeding a quality diet appropriate for your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle incorrect quantities, avoiding overfeeding. Adequate exercise is also an important aspect of preventing obesity.
is an inflammation of the ear canal. Symptoms of otitis in dogs include shaking the head, scratching at the ears, and a discharge or odor from the ears. Causes of otitis include yeast and bacterial infections and allergies are a frequent complicating factor in dogs suffering from otitis.
occurs when the kneecap “pops” out of place. Normally, the patella (kneecap) sits in a groove in the bone. If the groove is too narrow or the ligaments holding the patella in place become damaged, the patella can then slip in and out of the groove. This is referred to as patellar luxation. Patellar luxation causes pain and lameness in the affected let.
Prostate Gland Disease
occurs in male dogs and is much more common in male dogs which are not neutered. There are many causes of prostate gland disease including infection, cancer, and enlargement of the gland. Symptoms include difficulty urinating, bloody urine, difficulty moving the bowels, pain in the rear-quarters, a “hunched-up” appearance, and/or a discharge of blood or pus from the penis.
is a complex of diseases caused by small, one-celled organisms called “protozoa”. The most common symptom is diarrhea. Puppies are frequently affected and may become dehydrated easily.
is a bacterial infection in the skin. It can make your dog very uncomfortable and very ill. It is usually the result of damaged skin and is frequently seen secondary to other types of skin disease, such as allergies, atopy, mange, etc. Where other skin disease is present, it must be treated or at least controlled in order to resolve the skin infection. If it is not, the skin disease will likely return.
is a uterine infection which occurs in female dogs which have not been spayed. It usually occurs shortly after a heat cycle. It is a serious disease which can be fatal to your dog. Because spayed females cannot develop pyometra, it is recommended that any female dog not used for breeding purposes be spayed as part of a routine preventive dog health care program. Spaying prevents pyometra.
is a disease which is contagious not only to dogs but also to cats, people, and many other mammals. Vaccination against rabies should be part of any routine dog health care program. Because of the threat to people, vaccination is usually also required by law for your dog.
is a fungal disease which affects the skin of affected dogs and causes hair loss, a skin rash, and itchiness. It is contagious to people and you can get ringworm from your dog. Conversely, your dog can also get ringworm from you. Effective treatments for ringworm are available.
is a skin disease which is caused by a mite which lives on your dog’s skin. Scabies will make your dog very itchy. It is also contagious to people. There are effective treatments available for dogs infected with scabies.
is characterized by excessive accumulation of oil on the skin. It is a common skin disease of dogs and there are two forms of the disease: a dry form and an oily form.
are intestinal parasites. They are very common and often diagnosed by seeing tapeworm “segments”, which may look like small grains of rice, around your dog’s rectum or in the feces. Fleas are the most common means of transmission, although hunting can play a role as well. Effective flea control and restricting hunting activities are necessary to prevent your dog from getting tapeworms.
is a condition common to smaller breeds of dogs. It occurs when the “windpipe” collapses on itself and causes coughing. A cough is often described as a “goose-like honk”.
is frequently seen in older dogs, especially older spayed females. Because of a lack of control over the bladder, your dog may leak urine when sleeping or dribble urine. Your dog will often be unaware of this leaking or dribbling. This is a medical disease and your dog should not be punished for inappropriate urination if she is suffering from urinary incontinence. Treatment is aimed at replacing hormones or increasing the tone of the muscles responsible for holding the urethra closed.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
is an inherited disorder which causes your dog to bleed easily. A deficiency of a specific factor in the blood makes it impossible for the platelets, which are responsible for the normal clotting of the blood, to perform properly. When blood is unable to clot properly, excessive bleeding results. This can be a problem particularly in the event of an injury causing hemorrhage or if surgery is performed unknowingly.