Heartworm is a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected animal. The worms travel through the bloodstream—harming arteries and vital organs as they go—ultimately completing their journey to the vessels of the lung and the heart chamber about six months after the initial infection. Several hundred worms can live in one dog for five to seven years.
Liver failure* is common. Signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, and jaundice. Causes include bacterial or viral infection, toxic insult, cancer, copper storage diseases, or it may be idiopathic.
Some dogs have food allergies just as humans do; this is particular to the individual dog and not characteristic of the species as a whole. An example is a dog becoming physically ill from salmon; many humans likewise have seafood allergies.
Heart valve dysplasia (including mitral and tricuspid valve dysplasia) is a congenital heart abnormality in dogs. Dysplasia of the mitral and tricuspid valves – also known as the atrioventricular (AV) valves – can appear as thickened, shortened, or notched valves. Chordae tendineae are also usually abnormal.
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.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a bacterial disease transmitted to dogs and people by ticks. Dogs show a variety of symptoms similar to those in people, including fever, lameness, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, and swelling of the face or extremities.
We created a list for you and and any other dog owners too, so feel free to share! Print it out and/or save somewhere you can easily reference that way you have these conditions top of mind and know what symptoms to look for in case your dog is ill.
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.
Jump up ^ Authement JM, Boudrieau RJ, Kaplan PM (1989). “Transient, Traumatically Induced, Central Diabetes Insipidus in a Dog”. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
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.
Jump up ^ Catchpole B, Ristic JM, Fleeman LM, Davison LJ (2005). “Canine diabetes mellitus: can old dogs teach us new tricks?”. Diabetologia. Diabetologica. 48 (10): 1948–56. doi:10.1007/s00125-005-1921-1. PMID 16151773.
Laboratory tests include blood tests (e.g., to detect a low white blood cell count) and other tests to detect the virus (e.g., ELISA, electron microscopy). ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), which detects the presence of the virus in stool, is used most often. In some cases, recent immunization with the live virus can produce a false positive test result.
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Feeding table scraps to a dog is generally not recommended, at least in excess. Just as in humans, a dog’s diet must consist of the appropriate mix of nutrients, carbohydrates, and proteins in order to give them the minerals and vitamins that they need. Dogs get ample correct nutrition from their natural, normal diet; wild and feral dogs can usually get all the nutrients needed from a diet of whole prey and raw meat. In addition, a human diet is not ideal for a dog: the concept of a “balanced” diet for a facultative carnivore like a dog is not the same as in an omnivorous human. Dogs will usually eat all the scraps and treats they are fed: usually too much food. While not all human delicacies are acutely toxic to dogs (see above), many have the same chronically unfortunate results as they do for humans.
Squamous cell carcinoma* is a malignant tumor in dogs that most commonly occurs in the oral cavity, including the tongue, tonsils, and gingiva. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 5 percent of skin tumors in dogs, and are the most common tumor of the toe. Dogs with unpigmented skin on the nose may develop this cancer from long-term sun exposure.
Other diseases affecting dogs include endocrine diseases, immune-mediated diseases, and reproductive diseases. Diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, and hypothyroidism are the most common endocrine diseases. Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia is a devastating disease that causes severe anemia in dogs through destruction by the immune system. It has been associated with vaccinations and certain drugs, although many cases are idiopathic. A similar but less severe immune disease is immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, characterized by destruction of platelets by the immune system. Clinical signs include bruising and petechiae (pinpoint bruising, often seen in the mouth). Common reproductive diseases include pyometra (distension of the uterus with pus), mammary tumors, and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
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.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, pacing, panting, and shaking. More serious cases could cause an irregular heart beat, seizures, heart attack, or even death. If you think you dog has eaten any chocolate, do not wait to take him to the doctor.
Syringomyelia* is a condition where a fluid filled sac develops in the spinal cord. The most important cause in dogs is by a Chiari I malformation, which is when an underdeveloped occipital bone interferes with spinal fluid circulation and results in fluid accumulation in the cervical spinal cord. This is a congenital disease most commonly found in small breeds such as the Brussels Griffon and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Other breeds known to be affected include the Bichon Frise, Boston terrier, bull terrier, Chihuahua, French bulldog, Havanese, King Charles spaniel (the English toy spaniel), Maltese, miniature dachshunds, miniature and toy poodles, Papillon, Pomeranian, Pugs, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the Yorkshire terrier. Signs may include ataxia, weakness, and neck pain.
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.
Elbow dysplasia is a condition found more commonly in large breeds. It incorporates several different hereditary conditions of the elbow, including osteochondritis of the medial condyle of the humerus, fragmentation of the medial coronoid process of the ulna, and ununited anconeal process of the ulna.
Humans can also spread the virus by touching a dog or item contaminated with the virus and then transferring that to other dogs, says Weese, which is why it’s so important for dog owners to wash their hands after contact with a sick animal.
Chocolate poisoning symptoms can last up to 72 hours. PetMD offers this chocolate toxicity meter to gauge your dog’s level of poisoning, but it’s still best to see a vet right away. For a true life story, read our post, My Dog Ate Chocolate. Here’s What Happened Next.
Every year when you bring your pet in for a check-up, your veterinarian likely talks to you about vaccines and gives Fluffy or Fido a good look over. They may draw blood, or recommend preventative care routines, like a dental cleaning or grooming. But what are some of the most common serious ailments for cats and dogs that your veterinarian wants to help you prevent and control?
Jump up ^ Hazewinkel, Herman A. W. (2004). “Hereditary Skeletal Diseases in Companion Animal Practice”. Proceedings of the 29th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2006-12-09.
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.
Jump up ^ Shubitz, Lisa; Butkiewicz, C.; Dial, S.; Lindan, C. “Incidence of Coccidioides infection among dogs residing in a region in which the organism is endemic”. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
Some cancers can be cured, while others cannot. Please note that if your dog’s cancer is not curable, there are still many things you can do to make your pet feel better. Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about your options. And remember good nutrition and loving care can greatly enhance your dog’s quality of life.
How to treat: Sadly, arthritis cannot be cured, but there are things you can do to make it easier on your pet as he ages. Diet and nutrition are the two biggest things you can do to slow down the aging (and arthritis) process. Regular walks and a balanced diet of proper (age appropriate) food will keep your dog’s nutrition levels where they should be. Look for food labeled “Senior” and pay attention not to over or under feed. If your dog’s arthritis is severe, your vet can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms.
“Food is one way we show our dogs love,” says Case, “so banning people from feeding their dogs extras doesn’t work.” Even so, just as you can’t afford the effects of too many snack sessions, neither can your pup. Limit food beyond what’s in your dog’s daily diet—including that tiny bit of leftover salmon from your plate and even training treats—to no more than 10% of its calorie need, Case says. Tip: Make training treats small enough so your dog can down them quickly and delicious enough that they’ll count as a real reward.
A dog who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster vaccine immediately and kept under observation (length will vary depending on your state laws).
Lyme disease* is a disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochaete, and spread by ticks of the genus Ixodes. Symptoms in dogs include acute arthritis, anorexia and lethargy. There is no rash as is typically seen in humans.
How to treat: Early detection gives your dog the best chance for recovery. Surgery can remove the tumor in some cases, depending on the type and location of the cancer. In others, medications can be prescribed to allow your dog to tolerate the pain better. See your vet immediately if you suspect your dog might have cancer.
Trapped Neutrophil Syndrome* is an autosomal recessive disease which results in mature neutrophils being unable to migrate from the bone marrow into the blood. Affected pups have chronic infections and fail to thrive. Other symptoms can include stunted growth and a ferret like facial appearance. The disease is common in Border collies.
“The concern among vets in the UK is that, unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog,” said Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
Jump up ^ . Certain preparation methods of chocolate with other food items may increase the resultant theobromine levels. Such common prepared items include chocolate-coated accessory-fruits such as strawberries and combinations including caster sugars such as chocolate cookies. Carson, Delbert G.; Griffin, James M. (1992). Dog Owner’s Home Veteniary Handbook,. MacMillan General Reference. p. 19. ISBN 0-87605-537-4.
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 ^ Ruchinsky, Renee; et al. (2010). “Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats-page 7” (PDF). American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2011.(PDF)
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog shows any of the clinical signs mentioned on the list above. Should your dog receive a diagnosis of cancer, you may wish to consult a veterinary oncologist, often employed by specialty veterinary practices and teaching hospitals.