Visit a veterinarian for routine evaluation and care to keep your dog healthy and prevent infectious diseases. Keeping your dog on a monthly preventative for fleas, heartworms, and other parasites, and up to date on vaccinations can help prevent certain diseases.
“Be aware of it and insist a blasto test be done early,” Picken says. “It’s a small price to pay to eliminate the possibility of a tragic outcome. I found the perfect rescue dog and was ecstatic about the thought of having so many good years with him. To go from that to the heartbreak of losing him so quickly is a pretty steep fall.”
Macadamia nuts can cause non-fatal stiffness, tremors, hyperthermia, and abdominal pain. The exact mechanism is not known. Most dogs recover with supportive care when the source of exposure is removed.
Tetanus* is a disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani following wound contamination. Dogs are not very susceptible to tetanus. Signs include difficulty opening the mouth and eating, contraction of the facial muscles, and rigid extension of the limbs. Dogs may also get localized tetanus, signs of which include stiffness of a limb spreading to the rest of the body.
Renal failure (kidney failure) * is common in dogs and may be found in acute or chronic forms. It is defined by a loss of function of about 75 percent of the filtration system of the kidney and characterized by azotemia and low specific gravity of the urine. Acute renal failure can be caused by loss of blood supply, hypercalcemia, or toxins such as ethylene glycol (antifreeze) or aminoglycoside antibiotics (see: ethylene glycol poisoning). Chronic renal failure can be congenital and/or inherited or caused by cancer, infection, hypertension, glomerulonephritis, amyloidosis, progressive interstitial fibrosis, or any of the causes of acute renal failure.
Back pain* in dogs, particularly in long-backed breeds, such as Basset Hounds and Dachshunds, is usually caused by intervertebral disk disease. It is caused by degeneration and protrusion of the disk and compression of the spinal cord. It occurs most commonly in the cervical and thoracolumbar regions. Signs include back pain, hind limb weakness, and paralysis.
An infectious disease is caused by the presence of organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites (either animalian or protozoan). Most of these diseases are spread directly from dog to dog, while others require a vector such as a tick or mosquito. Certain infectious diseases are a concern from a public health standpoint because they are zoonoses (transmittable to humans).
There are no specific steps you can take to prevent your dog from contracting the disease, but there is some evidence of seasonal fluctuation, with most cases appearing between November and June. New advice suggests keeping your dog away from very muddy areas.
Genetic conditions are a problem in some dogs, particularly purebreeds. For this reason many of the national kennel clubs require that dogs with certain genetic illnesses or who are deemed to be carriers cannot be registered. Some of the most common conditions include hip dysplasia, seen in large breed dogs, von Willebrand disease, a disease that affects platelets that is inherited in Doberman Pinschers, entropion, a curling in of the eyelid seen in Shar Peis and many other breeds, progressive retinal atrophy, inherited in many breeds, deafness, and epilepsy, known to be inherited in Belgian Shepherd Dogs, German Shepherd Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, and St. Bernards.
Acromegaly (also known as hypersomatotropism) is a hormonal condition resulting from over-secretion of the growth hormone somatotropin from the pituitary gland. The hormone is responsible for growth from birth to adulthood. Normally in adulthood, the growth plates of the bones close and the secretion of the hormone slows considerably. Because the bone plates close when entering maturity, the continued growth of acromegaly is not of normal proportions. Most dogs with the disease are unspayed females, but the condition can come about with use of medications containing progesterone. Acromegaly patients often also have diabetes mellitus. There is a transient form of acromegaly which can affect females at the diestrus portion of the reproductive cycle. This condition is brought about by the mammary glands excreting excess growth hormone, which is triggered by progesterone from the ovaries. As with non-transient acromegaly, spaying is necessary. The symptoms can include overgrowth or enlargement of gums with wide spaces between teeth, increased drinking, increased urination, thickening of the skin and skin folds, enlargement of the tongue and excessive panting. Acromegaly is also possible from a somatotroph adenoma. The hormone somatostatin can also be useful in treatment. Since hypothyroidism is connected with the release of excess growth hormone, hypothyroidism can be mistaken for acromegaly.
Certain breeds are more likely to develop particular tumors, larger ones especially. The Golden Retriever is especially susceptible to lymphoma, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 8. Boxers and Pugs are prone to multiple mast cell tumors. Scottish Terriers have eighteen times the risk of mixed breed dogs to develop transitional cell carcinoma, a type of urinary bladder cancer.
Overdoses of vitamins can be harmful in dogs. As an example, calcium in excess can cause bone problems, especially in the large-breed dogs. Over-supplementation of vitamins A and D can cause vitamin toxicity in dogs. Excess vitamin A can cause dehydration, joint pain and can also harm the blood vessels, while too much vitamin D can cause muscular atrophy, or loss of appetite.
Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, dogs can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body).
Fleas and ticks of various species can be acquired and brought home by a dog, where they can multiply and attack humans (and vice versa). These two parasites are particularly important to note, now that tick-borne Lyme Disease has become endemic throughout a large area, in addition to other similar diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although dogs do not seem to be as susceptible to such diseases as humans, similar rickettsial diseases have been spread by dogs to humans through such mechanisms as a dog killing an infected rabbit, then shaking itself off in the house near enough to its owners to fatally infect most of the family.
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.
Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all—but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. This highly contagious disease can lead to patchy areas of hair loss on a dog and can spread to other animals—and to humans, too.
Pericardial effusion* is a collection of fluid in the pericardium. It is usually serosanguinous (bloody fluid). Serosanguinous accumulation can be caused by cancer, usually hemangiosarcoma or a heart base tumor, idiopathic pericarditis. Rare causes include trauma, clotting disorders, and left atrial rupture. Serous accumulation is rare and caused by heart failure, peritoneopericardial diaphragmatic hernias, uremia, pericardial cysts, or hypoalbuminemia. Rarely pericardial effusion can be caused by infection and consist of pus. An echocardiogram should be done prior to draining the fluid, if possible, to identify the cause (e.g., tumor). Drainage of the fluid (pericardiocentesis) relieves the clinical signs and, in the case of idiopathic pericarditis, can be curative.
Salmon poisoning disease is a fatal disease caused by infection with a rickettsia, either Neorickettsia helminthoeca or Neorickettsia elokominica. Dogs are infected by eating raw salmon from the Pacific Northwest.
Cauda equina syndrome*, also known as degenerative lumbosacral stenosis, in dogs is a compression of the cauda equina by a narrowing of the lumbosacral vertebral canal. It is most commonly seen in German Shepherd Dogs. Signs include pain, weakness, and rear limb muscle atrophy.
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.
Jump up ^ Häggström J, Boswood A, O’Grady M, et al. (2008). “Effect of pimobendan or benazepril hydrochloride on survival times in dogs with congestive heart failure caused by naturally occurring myxomatous mitral valve disease: the QUEST study”. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 22 (5): 1124–35. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2008.0150.x. PMID 18638016.
Mouse and rat poison* ingestion is common in dogs. Most rodenticides in the United States are anticoagulant by depleting Vitamin K. This type is the most frequent cause of poisoning in pets. Third generation products contain brodifacoum or bromadiolone and are toxic after a single ingestion. Signs include spontaneous and excessive bleeding internally and externally. Treatment is with Vitamin K supplementation. Other rodenticides may contain cholecalciferol which causes hypercalcemia and leads to heart and kidney problems. Newer rodenticides may contain bromethalin which causes central nervous system signs such as seizures, muscle tremors, and depression.
Ocular tumors* in dogs are found in the eyelid, conjunctiva, third eyelid, cornea, sclera, iris, ciliary body, retina, choroid, optic nerve, and orbit. The most common types are Meibomian gland adenoma (eyelid), papilloma (eyelid), melanoma (eyelid, conjunctiva, sclera, iris, ciliary body, choroid), squamous cell carcinoma (conjunctiva), adenoma (ciliary body), adenocarcinoma (ciliary body), lymphoma (retina, choroid, ciliary body), medulloepithelioma (retina, choroid), ganglioglioma (retina, choroid), osteosarcoma (orbit), mast cell tumor (orbit), and optic nerve sheath meningioma.
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome, also known as Perthes disease or avascular necrosis of the femoral head, is characterized by a deformity of the head of the femur and hip pain. It occurs in small breed puppies.
“While there is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease, there is a very useful guide available online to help people understand where in the UK confirmed cases have been found and advice on how to spot signs.
Dog treats are often given to pets as a reward for something they did or just to let them chew on a bone, which works their jaw muscles and helps keep their teeth clean. Although dog treats carry high benefits for dogs’ teeth, they can also be a source of problems when given excessively. The human food treats are usually the ones that cause the most trouble for dogs.
Ringworm is a fungal skin disease that in dogs is caused by Microsporum canis (70%), Microsporum gypseum (20%), and Trichophyton mentagrophytes (10%). Typical signs in dogs include hair loss and scaly skin.
Signs of vestibular disease include head tilt, circling, nystagmus (an abnormal movement of the eyes), and difficulty or inability to stand. These clinical signs are similar to those seen in humans experiencing vertigo. Vestibular disease may have many causes. Elderly dogs are susceptible to an idiopathic (meaning due to unknown causes) form of vestibular disease commonly called “old dog vestibular disease” or idiopathic peripheral vestibular disease. The signs may improve rapidly or take a few days. Less commonly, vestibular signs can also be caused by inner ear disease, a brain tumor, a stroke, or other causes. The major risk with idiopathic peripheral vestibular disease is that the dog is often unable to eat, drink, or go outside to urinate or defecate. These cases must receive supportive therapy of intravenous fluids and nutrition; a light sedative is sometimes administered, as the dog may be very stressed by the experience.
Bilious vomiting syndrome is vomiting in response to bile-induced inflammation of the stomach. Bile salts interfere with the gastric mucosal barrier, allowing acid to irritate the stomach lining and cause gastritis.
Scotty Cramp is a disease in Scottish Terriers causing spasms and hyperflexion and hyperextension of the legs. It is caused by a disorder in serotonin metabolism that causes a deficiency of available serotonin.
8. Arthritis: Arthritis is often seen as a rite of passage for our older pets. They may seem slow to rise in the morning, or a bit reluctant to jump up to their favorite spot on the couch. Your veterinarian can diagnose most forms of arthritis during a routine exam, but they may also recommend an x-ray to rule out other issues or evaluate how seriously inflamed the joints are. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are joint supplements, and even treatments like acupuncture, to help keep your pet as mobile as possible for as long as possible.
6. Rabies: Rabies is the disease made famous in the hearbreaking scene in Old Yeller. Thankfully, the widespread use of the rabies vaccine in recent years has made its occurrence in pets in the U.S. quite rare. However, it is still present in wild animal populations, and because rabies is always fatal, it’s critical to make sure that your pets are current on their rabies vaccination.
Ever think, “I should Spin more,” and then remember how much you hate Spinning? Same for dogs. Not every dog is a runner or a swimmer or will want to play fetch. In fact, says Case, “If you haven’t started your dog swimming before the age of 1 or 2, it’s not going to like it”—even if it has webbed feet. “There are many more owners who want their dogs to swim than there are dogs that want to get in the water.” Tip: There’s no real data on the optimum cardio workout for dogs, says Kerns, “but the more you can get your dog outside—with the sun overhead and grass under its paws—the better.”
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is separation of immature articular cartilage from underlying bone. It is caused by osteochondrosis, which is characterized by abnormal endochondral ossification of epiphyseal cartilage. It is most commonly seen in the stifle, elbow, shoulder, and hock.
The best way to diagnose a worm problem is with a visit to the vet. Treatment depends on which type of worm your dog has, but generally includes an oral medication and may require follow-up. Don’t try treating worms yourself: A medication that kills roundworms, for example, doesn’t kill tapeworms.
Weese advises that, if you’re out and see a dog that’s coughing and looks sick, keep your dog away from that animal. If your dog does become sick with a cough or runny nose, keep it away from other pets for at least 2 weeks.
Pasteurellosis is a bacterial disease associated with animal bites and scratches. Pasteurella is a normal bacterium that lives in the mouths of healthy dogs. The bacteria do not typically make dogs sick; however, dogs can develop abscesses or skin infections in places where they were scratched or bitten by another animal.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)* is an immune system disease characterized by the presence of antibodies to nucleic acid and/or antibodies to red blood cells, platelets, lymphocytes, clotting factors, and thyroglobulin. The disease can result in deposition of immune complexes or autoimmune disease. Immune complex deposition can cause vasculitis, meningitis, neuritis, and joint and skin disease. The most commons signs are hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia.
Jump up ^ Daminet, Sylvie (2010). “Canine Hypothyroidism: Update on Diagnosis and Treatment”. Proceedings of the 35th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 25 January 2011.