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.
Jump up ^ Eubig P, Brady M, Gwaltney-Brant S, Khan S, Mazzaferro E, Morrow C (2005). “Acute renal failure in dogs after the ingestion of grapes or raisins: a retrospective evaluation of 43 dogs (1992–2002)”. J. Vet. Intern. Med. 19 (5): 663–74. doi:10.1892/0891-6640(2005)19[663:ARFIDA]2.0.CO;2. PMID 16231710.
How to treat: Prevention is your best option. It starts with getting your dog shots every year. You should also monitor your dog’s activity to make sure he isn’t interacting with rabies infected animals in the wild. If you suspect that your dog has rabies, call Animal Control immediately and avoid your dog as much as possible.
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.
Learn to watch your dog closely, and you’ll be surprised by how much it communicates how it feels, mentally and physically. The position of its ears and tail, it’s breathing, whether it often scratches or licks its paws can all be signs of distress. “Chronic behaviors and symptoms must be addressed,” says Kerns. “Healthy dogs don’t show symptoms on a daily basis.” Tip: Consider starting a health notebook or a calendar, so you can track when you administer meds, change food, or notice new behaviors, like obsessive grooming.
My human went to the pumpkin patch and brought back several lovely pumpkins for the porch. I was bummed because I couldn’t get her to throw them like balls for me. They looked like balls. She saw how disappointed I was and got me this pumpkin dog toy. She throws it and I chase it, and we both smile. And I leave the real pumpkins alone.
What to look for: Since there are so many kinds of allergies dogs can have (from food to flea/tick bites and a wide range of other possibilities), it’s important to look for any change in behavior when exposed to something new. If your dog goes a few days showing lack of energy, has a consistent cough or sneeze, or if anything else seems out-of-place, you might be dealing with allergies.
Jump up ^ Probst, Sarah (1999). “Blastomycosis–Fungal Disease Common in Outdoor Dogs”. Pet Columns. UIUC College of Veterinary Medicine. Archived from the original on 2015-02-05. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
“He is soooo cute,” you thought when you first laid eyes on your dog. And—yay!—he seemed to like you too. So you brought him home—only to realize that maybe you weren’t totally prepared for the work this relationship involved. Well, your mom was right (again): Owning a dog IS a big responsibility, from training to feeding to keeping it stress-free. “We don’t have that many years with our dogs,” says Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns. Here’s how to make sure each day is filled with health—and happiness for you both.
What’s true for humans is also true for dogs. Of-the-moment food regimens—like the wolf diet, raw-food craze, or grain-free eating—aren’t worth the money or time. Yes, they can provide balanced meals, and thus aren’t harmful, Case says, “but there is no demonstrated evidence of their health benefits” over other more-standard diets. Tip: Want to provide your pooch with raw food? Be sure it’s pasteurized to ensure safety.
Canine parvovirus is an acute illness, which means that symptoms develop suddenly, usually within 3–10 days of exposure. In most cases, dogs that are infected with the virus do not develop the disease (called asymptomatic infection). Canine parvovirus often is fatal in puppies. Sometimes, puppies collapse and die without showing prior signs of infection.
Depending on the size of your pup, some health problems are more prevalent than others. For instance, big dogs tend to deal with more bone and joint problems, whereas smaller dogs tend to suffer more with organ and breathing disorders. Again, each breed is unique, but it is important to understand what common dog illnesses and health issues affect your pet. See below for the most common types of dog health issues and make sure to take immediate action if you think something serious is wrong with your dog.
Skin diseases are very common in dogs. Atopy, a chronic allergic condition, is thought to affect up to 10 percent of dogs. Other skin diseases related to allergies include hot spots and pyoderma, both characterized by secondary bacterial infections, food allergy, ear infections, and flea allergy dermatitis. Canine follicular dysplasia is an inherited disorder of the hair follicles resulting in alopecia (baldness). Mange is an infectious skin disease caused by mites. Endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome can also manifest as skin problems like alopecia or recurring bacterial infections. Another class of integumentary malady is hygromas, a swelling typically on or near the elbow joint. Nutrition may also play a role in skin disease, as deficiencies in certain nutrients may result in scaling, redness, oiling, balding, and/or itching of the skin.(See dog skin disorders for specific nutrients that impacts skin)
There are several fungal diseases that are systemic in nature, meaning they are affecting multiple body systems. Blastomycosis, caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis, is a fungal disease that affects both dogs and humans, although it is only rarely zoonotic. It is found mainly in the United States in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes areas. It has also been reported in four Canadian provinces; Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Signs include weight loss, cough, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, draining skin lesions, eye inflammation with discharge, blindness, and lameness. Because dogs are ten times more likely to become infected from the environment than humans, they are considered to be sentinels for the disease. Treatment requires a minimum 60-90 day course of oral antifungal medication or in severe cases intravenous antifungal injections.
Physical elements of certain dog breeds also affect susceptibility of individuals to skin problems, such as wrinkled skin or excessive skin folds. For instance, skin-fold dermatitis is a skin infection more prevalent in breeds such as the bulldog, cocker spaniel, and English Springer spaniel.
The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. Autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease.
Pulmonary hypertension* is high pressure in the pulmonary artery. In dogs it can be caused by heartworm disease, pulmonary thromboembolism, or chronic hypoxemia (low oxygen). It can result in right-sided heart disease (cor pulmonale). Signs include difficulty breathing, cyanosis, and exercise intolerance.
Jump up ^ Klopfleisch R, Kohn B, Plog S, Weingart C, Nöckler K, Mayer-Scholl A, Gruber AD (2011). “An Emerging Pulmonary Haemorrhagic Syndrome in Dogs: Similar to the Human Leptospiral Pulmonary Haemorrhagic Syndrome?”. Vet. Med. Int. 33: 1–7. doi:10.4061/2010/928541. PMC 3025382 . PMID 21274452.
Luxating patella is a medial or lateral displacement of the patella, or kneecap. It is strongly suspected to be inherited, but can also result from trauma. It is more common in smaller breeds of dogs 
Umbilical hernia* is a failure of the umbilical ring of the abdominal wall to close. They are very common and can be caused by genetics or by traction on the umbilical cord or by the cord being cut too close to the body. They are corrected by surgery.
Ryan Rauch graduated from Scripps School of Journalism in 2009 and has been writing for Canine Journal since 2012. Ryan enjoys writing and researching new and evolving home security measures, and has a passion for technology.
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.
Rabies (hydrophobia) is a fatal viral disease that can affect any mammal, although the close relationship of dogs with humans makes canine rabies a zoonotic concern. Vaccination of dogs for rabies is commonly required by law. Please see the article dog health for information on this disease in dogs.
Cerebellar abiotrophy is caused by the death of Purkinje cells in the cerebellum. It results in progressive ataxia beginning at a young age. It is most commonly seen in Kerry Blue Terriers and Gordon Setters.
Discoid lupus erythematosus is an uncommon autoimmune disease of the skin in dogs. It does not progress to systemic lupus erythematosus in dogs. The most common initial symptom is scaling and loss of pigment on the nose.
Ear infections are a common canine health problem, and they can be caused by allergies, yeast, ear mites, bacteria, hair growth deep in the ear canal, and more. Symptoms your dog may have with an ear infection include:
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.
Dancing Dobermann disease is a type of myopathy that primarily affects the gastrocnemius muscle in Dobermanns. It usually starts between the ages of 6 to 7 months. One rear leg will flex while standing. Over the next few months it will begin to affect the other rear leg.
“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.
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.
What to look for: Thankfully, rabies is not as common today as it once was due to the development of vaccinations, but it is still possible for your dog to become infected with rabies even if he has received his shots. Symptoms of rabies include heavy, thick drool and aggressive behavior.
Jump up ^ Serfass P, Chetboul V, Sampedrano CC, Nicolle A, Benalloul T, Laforge H, Gau C, Hébert C, Pouchelon JL, Tissier R. Retrospective study of 942 small-sized dogs: Prevalence of left apical systolic heart murmur and left-sided heart failure, critical effects of breed and sex. J Vet Cardiol. 2006 May;8(1):11-8.
Anal fistulae*, known as perianal fistulae in dogs, are most common in German Shepherd Dogs. They are characterized by draining tracts in the skin around the anus. The cause is unknown. Surgical treatment is common, but recently use of cyclosporine in combination with ketoconazole has been shown to be effective.
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.
People who are infected with brucellosis will usually become sick within 6-8 weeks of exposure. Sick people will have flu-like symptoms that last 2-4 weeks. Sometimes brucellosis can become a chronic illness that can be difficult to treat.
Pemphigus is an uncommon autoimmune skin disease. The most common form in dogs is pemphigus foliaceus, which manifests as erosions and crusting of the skin and mucocutaneous junctions. Pemphigus vulgaris is more rare and manifests as blister-like lesions in the mouth and at mucocutaneous junctions. Bullous pemphigoid is most commonly seen in Dobermanns and Collies and appears as a scald-like lesion of the groin.
Wash your hands with soap and running water after contact with dogs, dog saliva, or dog stool. Be sure to assist children with handwashing. Thoroughly washing hands will reduce the risk of disease transmission to people.
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.
Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Dogs and people can become infected by accidentally swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. In addition, larval worms can cross through the placenta, milk, or colostrum of a mother dog, passing the infection to her puppies. Infected puppies usually do not develop and grow well and might have a pot-bellied appearance.
Infected people will typically have a red “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite that appears about 7 days after being bitten. Flu-like symptoms quickly follow the rash. If not treated, this disease can spread to other parts of the body and cause symptoms such as arthritis and loss of facial muscle tone (Bell’s palsy). Lyme disease can be fatal.
Hereditary orthopedic diseases are mainly found in purebred dogs. Hip dysplasia is a common problem that primarily affects larger breeds. Hip dysplasia is a defect in the shape of the hip joint which can, depending on the degree of hip luxation, be quite painful to the dog as it ages. Over time it often causes arthritis in the hips. Dysplasia can also occur in the elbow joint. Luxating patellas can be a problem for smaller breeds. It can cause lameness and pain in the hind legs.
“Treatment is supportive, but is only successful in 20-30% of cases, which is why we’re encouraging all dog owners to use the online interactive guide to help them understand the clinical signs and confirmed locations of Alabama Rot.
Jump up ^ Dunayer EK, Gwaltney-Brant SM (October 2006). “Acute hepatic failure and coagulopathy associated with xylitol ingestion in eight dogs”. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 229 (7): 1113–7. doi:10.2460/javma.229.7.1113. PMID 17014359.
Due to the indiscriminate nature of a dog’s appetite, gastrointestinal upset is a frequent occurrence in dogs. The most common symptoms are anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Foreign body ingestion can lead to acute obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, a very dangerous condition. Acute pancreatitis can also result from dietary indiscretion.
“If you think your dog is too skinny, it’s probably the right weight,” Case say. Dogs with excess weight are more prone to joint problems and diabetes, among other health issues (sounds familiar). How to tell if Fluffy is chubby? “It’s all about the feel,” she adds. “Ribs shouldn’t be visible, but easily felt.” Tip: Rub your hands up and down your dog’s flank. You should feel the ridges of its ribs without having to push in to find them.
Garlic & Onions* are toxic to dogs. Onions, Garlic, Chives – can cause the destruction of red blood cells known as Heinz body anemia, a form of hemolytic anemia. No clear quantity has been established as to the onset of the anemia. But for garlic, if your dog consumes the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of garlic for every 10 pounds of their weight (1 teaspoon for a 10-pound dog) it can destroy red blood cells. Poisonous reaction can result from raw, cooked or dried onions, garlic, chives, including those included in powdered or dehydrated forms. Avoid all foods that contain onions or onion variants (such as spaghetti sauce).
Eye proptosis is a condition resulting in forward displacement and entrapment of the eye from behind by the eyelids. It is a common result of head trauma in dogs. Most commonly it occurs in brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds.
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.
It’s not uncommon to find your dog eating feces. Some consume their own or other dogs’ feces; others seem to prefer cat feces (which, due to the feline digestive system, are high in protein and consumed by many animals in the wild) This can be harmful if the feces has any pathogens or parasites or contain excreted drugs.
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.
The source of the disease is unknown, with the Environment Agency ruling out any chemical contamination in water supplies. Experts believe the disease is “very similar” to Alabama Rot, thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria. However, no evidence of this has been found after no signs were shown on the infected dogs.
Congenital vertebral anomalies, including butterfly, block, and transitional vertebrae, and hemivertebrae, are a collection of malformations of the spine in animals. Most are not clinically significant, but they can cause compression of the spinal cord by deforming the vertebral canal or causing instability.
Jump up ^ Morrow, C. M. K.; Valli, V. E.; Volmer, P. A.; Eubig, P. A. (2005). “Canine Renal Pathology Associated with Grape or Raisin Ingestion: 10 Cases”. J. Vet. Diagn. Investig. 17 (3): 223–31. doi:10.1177/104063870501700302. PMID 15945377.