Pick a dog that is bright, alert, and playful. Dogs and puppies should have shiny, soft fur that is free of stool. Signs of illness in a dog include appearing sluggish or depressed, having diarrhea, abnormal breathing, and fluid running from its eyes or nose. Make sure to take your new dog or puppy to the veterinarian within a few days to a week after adoption for a health visit.
Pasteurella is found in 50% of patients with infected dog bite wounds. Pasteurella can cause painful wound and skin infections. In more severe cases, it can cause widespread infection and might even affect the nervous system.
Jump up ^ Mazzaferro, Elisa M. (2006). “Emergency Approach to Toxins” (PDF). Proceedings of the North American Veterinary Conference. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2007.
You may not think you need one, but your dog does. “Don’t skimp on a in-depth vet exam every year,” advises Kerns. Since “dogs age on an accelerated schedule compared to us,” she says, serious illness can take hold within a year, so early detection is key. The exam should include a complete blood count, a blood-chemistry panel, a thorough dental check, and a vaccination review to ensure that your dog is up-to-date with rabies and other shots. Tip: Find a vet you can establish an easy relationship with. When you make your appointment, be sure the doc will set aside enough time to patiently answer all your questions.
Jump up ^ Di Marco, Viviani (2009). “Advances in the Diagnosis and Management of Canine Hyperadrenocorticism”. Proceedings of the 34th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
Urinary tract infection*, specifically cystitis or bladder infection, is common in dogs and usually caused by bacteria. Signs include blood in the urine (hematuria), difficulty urinating (dysuria), and frequent urination (polyuria). The most common types of bacteria cultured from the urine of dogs with cystitis are E. coli, Staphylococcus spp., Proteus mirabilis, Streptococcus spp., Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp.
Canine glaucoma is an increase of pressure within the eye. It is a common condition in dogs. It can be caused by abnormal development of the drainage angle of the eye, lens luxation, uveitis, or cancer. Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Basset Hounds are predisposed.
Gastric dilatation volvulus, commonly known as bloat, is a serious condition in which the stomach swells with air (gastric dilatation), sometimes twisting on itself (volvulus). Deep-chested breeds are at a higher risk of bloating. Factors that predispose dogs to this condition are intestinal foreign bodies, intestinal cancer, intussusception, and other intestinal diseases. It has a poor prognosis.
There are all types of canine cancers, and they seem to be on the rise. A staggering 50 percent of dogs aged ten and older will develop some form of cancer, and it’s the leading cause of death of dogs in this age group.
Veterinary parasitology studies both external and internal parasites in animals. External parasites, such as fleas, mites, ticks and mosquitoes can cause skin irritation and are often carriers of other diseases or of internal parasites.
Uveitis* is inflammation within the eye. Anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris and ciliary body) is most common in dogs. The disease is usually immune-mediated in dogs, but may also be caused by trauma, cataracts, infectious canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, ehrlichiosis, or systemic fungal infections.
Lead poisoning* is uncommon in dogs. Exposure to lead is from eating paint chips from lead-based paint (found in houses painted prior to 1950), and eating lead objects such as shot, fishing sinkers, or counterweights. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, blindness, seizures, and tremors.
9. Diabetes: Just like with humans, pets can develop diabetes as part of the aging process. While diabetes in cats and dogs can often be controlled by a plan of diet and exercise, some pets will require regular insulin shots.
Dental disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs. Accumulation of plaque and subsequently tartar leads to gingivitis and then periodontitis (gum disease). Periodontitis leads to loss of the bony attachment of the teeth and tooth loss. Preventive measures include tooth brushing, providing an appropriate diet (avoiding tinned and other soft foods and providing dental chew treats) and dental scaling and polishing. Cavities are uncommon in dogs.
Cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle, is also seen in dogs and is associated with large breeds (the exception being Cocker Spaniels, a medium-sized breed). Dilated cardiomyopathy is seen in Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards, Dobermanns, Boxers, and other large breeds. Dobermanns, in addition to heart muscle failure, are prone to ventricular arrhythmias. Boxer dogs are predisposed to a unique cardiomyopathy with clinical and histological changes analogous to human arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The disease has been termed “Boxer cardiomyopathy” or “Boxer ARVC”, and is characterized by development of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Affected dogs are at risk of syncope and sudden cardiac death. Myocardial failure and congestive heart failure are rare manifestations of this disease.
This tick-borne illness is another highly preventable disease. It is caused by a bacteria transmitted by slow-feeding deer ticks that have been attached to the dog for at least 18 hours. It’s the most common of the tick-related illnesses.
Entropion (eyelid folding inward) is a common condition in dogs, especially the Chow Chow, Shar Pei, St. Bernard, and Cocker Spaniel. Upper lid entropion involves the eyelashes rubbing on the eye, but the lower lid usually has no eyelashes, so hair rubs on the eye. Surgical correction is used in more severe cases.
Kennel cough is a term loosely used to describe a complex of respiratory infections—both viral and bacterial—that causes inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. It’s a form of bronchitis and is similar to a chest cold in humans.
Some dog owners opt for no treatment of the cancer, in which case palliative end of life care, including pain relief, should be considered. Regardless of how you proceed after a diagnosis of cancer in your pet, it is very important to consider his quality of life when making future decisions.
Cerebellar hypoplasia is an incomplete development of the cerebellum. The most common cause in dogs is an in utero infection with canine herpesvirus. It is also seen associated with lissencephaly in Wire-haired Fox Terriers and Irish Setters, and as a separate condition in Chow Chows.
Part of your job as a dog owner will be protecting your family from the parasites that can plague dogs and make their lives (and yours) miserable. Fortunately, that’s much easier done these days than it once was.
People become infected with dog hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line might appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.
Dog treats given excessively can be a cause of obesity. The type of food fed has a direct bearing on the tendency of a dog to become overweight. Table scraps, treats, even premium high-energy dog foods can contribute to obesity. Therefore, it is highly important to closely monitor the quantity of treats that a dog gets especially when the dog’s activity is diminished. Dog treats are more likely to be linked to obesity in old dogs, since in their old age they are less likely to be active and exercising. On the other hand, active dogs require and use more calories, so dog treats are not a cause of concern in younger and highly active dogs.
Cryptorchidism is when one the testicles is retained in the abdomen or inguinal canal past a normal stage of development. It is a common occurrence in dogs and is thought to be a sex-limited autosomal recessive trait.
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy is a bone disease in rapidly growing large breed dogs. Signs include swelling of the metaphysis (the part of the bone adjacent to the joint), pain, depression, loss of appetite, and fever. The disease is usually bilateral in the limb bones.
What to look for: Since kennel cough is a respiratory infection, it can be easily transmitted from one dog to another when they interact. Look for lethargy, coughing, leaky nose and eyes or loss of appetite as common signs that your dog might have kennel cough.
Demodicosis, also known as demodectic mange, is caused by Demodex canis mites which live in small numbers in sebaceous glands and hair follicles. These mites can cause inflammation and hair loss, and may also lead to secondary bacterial infections such as fever, lethargy, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Trichiasis in dogs is hair from the eyelid growing in the wrong direction and rubbing on the eye, causing irritation. It usually occurs at the lateral upper eyelid, especially in the English Cocker Spaniel.
The best outcomes seem to be achieved by catching it early and the animal receiving high-quality veterinary care. Whilst some infected dogs do survive the treatments of skin sores and kidney failure, unfortunately, many do not – it is estimated that treatment is only successful in around 20-30% of cases.
Food allergy* in dogs is commonly manifested as itching, especially of the face, paws, and the underside. Skin testing has proved unreliable, and a trial of a hypoallergenic diet is usually used for diagnosis.
Rarely, Capnocytophaga can spread to people through bites, scratches, or close contact from a dog or cat and cause illness. Most people who have contact with a dog or cat do not become sick. People with weakened immune systems who have difficulty fighting off infections (for example, people with cancer or those taking certain medications such as steroids) are at greater risk of becoming ill.
Horner’s syndrome* results from damage to the sympathetic innervation of the eye. Signs include enophthalmos (sunken eye), miosis (small pupil), elevated third eyelid, and ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid). Usually the syndrome in dogs is idiopathic, but it can also be caused by trauma, tumors, or ear infections.
Diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose—which is carried into his cells by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a dog.
Atopy* is an allergy to a substance with which the dog is not necessarily in direct contact. It is a type I hypersensitivity to a substance that is inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Up to 10 percent of dogs are affected. It is common in dogs, especially seen in breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Shih Tzus. The most common symptom is itching. Affected areas include the underside, the face, the feet, and the ears.
Pythiosis is a disease cause by a water mould of the genus Pythium, P. insidiosum. It occurs primarily in dogs and horses, but can also affect humans. In dogs it affects the gastrointestinal system and lymph nodes, and rarely the skin.
Because of the overpopulation of dogs in some countries, puppies born to strays or as the result of accidental breedings often end up being killed in animal shelters. Spaying and neutering can also decrease the risk of hormone-driven diseases such as mammary cancer, as well as undesired hormone-driven behaviors. However, certain medical problems are more likely after neutering, such as urinary incontinence in females and prostate cancer in males. The hormonal changes involved with sterilization are likely to somewhat change the animal’s personality, however, and some object to spaying and neutering as the sterilization could be carried out without the excision of organs.
Genetics and environmental factors also play a role in cancer development. Some credit the uptick in canine cancer rates to dogs simply living longer with better health care options. Other blame dog “junk” food for the rise, with brand-name foods using ingredients thought to cause cancer. Check the labels and avoid BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin.
Urinary incontinence* is leakage of urine, usually due to incompetence of the urethral sphincter in adult dogs and ectopic ureter (a congenital condition in which the ureter enters the urinary tract posterior to the urethral sphincter) in puppies. In adult dogs it is most commonly seen in large spayed females. The lack of estrogens in spayed dogs has been linked to development of incontinence. Replacement of estrogens, phenylpropanolamine, and surgery have all been used for treatment.
Note: Do not attempt to handle or capture a wild animal who is acting strangely (i.e., a nocturnal animal who is out during the day, an animal who acts unusually tame). Report the animal to local animal control officers as soon as possible.
Foreign body is an object foreign to the body that becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract (or other part of the dog). Dogs are susceptible to gastrointestinal obstruction due to their ability to swallow relatively large objects and pass them through the esophagus. Foreign bodies most commonly become lodged in the stomach because of the inability to pass through the pyloric sphincter, and in the jejunum.
Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in dogs  (see also grape and raisin toxicity in dogs). The exact mechanism is not known, nor is there any means to determine the susceptibility of an individual dog. While as little as one raisin can be toxic to a susceptible 10 pounds (4.5 kg) dog, some other dogs have eaten as much as a pound of grapes or raisins at a time without ill effects. The affected dog usually vomits a few hours after consumption and begins showing signs of renal failure three to five days later. A mycotoxin is suspected to be involved, but one has not been found in grapes or raisins ingested by affected dogs. The reason some dogs develop renal failure following ingestion of grapes and raisins is not known. The most common pathological finding is proximal renal tubular necrosis.
Antifreeze (ethylene glycol), due to its sweet taste, poses an extreme danger of poisoning to dogs and cats if ingested. Even a very small amount such as a tablespoon can easily prove fatal. The antifreeze itself is not toxic, but is metabolized via the liver to the toxins glycolate and oxalate, which cause intoxication and vomiting, metabolic acidosis, and finally acute kidney failure leading to seizures and death. By the time clinical signs are observed, the kidneys are usually too damaged for the dog to survive so acting quickly is important. Immediate treatments include inducing vomiting by using apomorphine or dilute hydrogen peroxide solution (if this can be done shortly after ingestion), but these merely reduce the amount absorbed – immediate veterinary treatment is still usually imperative due to the high toxicity of the compound. Medical treatments may include fomepizole (preferred treatment) which competes favorably with the toxin in the body, ethanol which competes favorably in the liver long enough to allow excretion to take place, activated charcoal to further reduce uptake of undigested product, and hemodialysis to remove toxins from the blood. Dogs should not be allowed access to any place in which an antifreeze leak or spill has happened until the spill is completely cleaned out. Some brands of antifreeze contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol and are marketed as being less harmful or less attractive to animals.
Prostate disease* in dogs includes benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis (infection of the prostate), cancer, and cysts and abscesses. BPH is the most common and is found in older intact (not neutered) dogs. Signs include blood in the urine and straining to urinate and defecate. Castration is the treatment of choice. Prostatis can be associated with BPH. Bacteria causing prostatitis include E. coli, Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., and Mycoplasma spp.
Always take your dog to the veterinarian if you think he has an ear infection. In most cases, cleaning and medicating the ear canal will quickly clear up an infection. However, surgery can be needed for chronic infections or if forceful head shaking results in the rupture of a vessel within the outer part of the ear.
What to look for: The signs of obesity might seem obvious, but having regular weight checks is important in order to keep records of your dog’s weight over time. It is important to recognize your dog’s weight gain early to give him the best chance possible for recourse.
For most dogs, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet’s individual insulin treatment is established, typically based on weight, you will be shown how to give him his insulin injections at home.