Diagnosis of canine parvovirus is based on symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory tests. In puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated, CPV infection often is suspected when bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting develop suddenly. Physical examination may reveal signs of dehydration (e.g., lethargy, sunken eyes, dry gums, rapid heart rate, concentrated urine), fever, abdominal discomfort, swollen lymph nodes, and weight loss.
It takes just three weeks for one flea to turn into an infestation of 1,000 biting bugs. A very common canine health problem, fleas are easy for your dog to pick up, but they’re also easy to treat. Signs your dog may have fleas include:
Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of heart muscle resulting in decreased myocardial contractility. The left ventricle compensates for this disease by growing larger (eccentric or volume overload hypertrophy; AKA dilation). The left atrial is also dilated when the disease is severe. It is seen in large/giant dog breeds such as Boxers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers. It is usually idiopathic, but can also be caused by taurine deficiency in American Cocker Spaniels or doxorubicin use. A mutation in the gene that encodes for pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 is associated with DCM in Doberman Pinschers in the USA. Dilated cardiomyopathy usually ultimately results in congestive heart failure. Atrial fibrillation is common in giant breed dogs with DCM. Doberman Pinschers more commonly have ventricular arrhythmias (e.g., premature ventricular complexes; ventricular tachycardia) that predispose them to sudden death (i.e., ventricular fibrillation).
Plasmacytomas* are common skin tumors in dogs that derive from B lymphocytes. Most are benign. Tumors of B lymphocyte origin that affect the bone marrow and are diffuse throughout the body are malignant and are called multiple myeloma*.
Keeping your dog away from tick-prone areas and checking your dog for ticks are always good ideas, but preventative tick medicines are the most effective way to prevent Lyme disease, and other tick-borne illnesses.
If your dog is showing any abnormal clinical signs as listed above, make an appointment to see your veterinarian immediately. If a diabetic dog is not treated, he can develop secondary health problems like cataracts and severe urinary tract problems. Ultimately, untreated diabetes can cause coma and death.
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.
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.
Jump up ^ Meurs KM1, Lahmers S, Keene BW, White SN, Oyama MA, Mauceli E, Lindblad-Toh K. A splice site mutation in a gene encoding for PDK4, a mitochondrial protein, is associated with the development of dilated cardiomyopathy in the Doberman pinscher. Hum Genet. 2012 Aug;131(8):1319-25.
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.
Congenital diaphragmatic hernia* is uncommon, and is usually caused by trauma. Congenital diaphragmatic hernias are usually communications between the peritoneum and pericardium and are usually incidental findings.
Jump up ^ Holt, Peter E. (2004). “Urinary Incontinence in the Male and Female Dog or Does Sex Matter?”. Proceedings of the 29th World Congress of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
Complications include dehydration, secondary infections, sepsis and a condition in which part of the intestine slips into the part below it (called intussusception). CPV also can damage the spleen. Dogs that have another health condition are at increased risk for developing severe complications and illness.
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.
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.
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.
Eye diseases are common in dogs. Cataracts, canine glaucoma, and entropion are seen in dogs. Canine-specific eye diseases include progressive retinal atrophy, Collie eye anomaly, sudden acquired retinal degeneration, and cherry eye. Injury to the eye can result in corneal ulcers.
Jump up ^ Eigenmann, JE, Eigenmann, RY, Rijnberk, A, van der Gaag, I, Zapf, J, Froesch, ER. (1983). “Progesterone-controlled Growth Hormone Overproduction and Naturally Occurring Canine Diabetes and Acromegaly”. Acta Endocrinologica. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
How to treat: Like humans, dogs should get regular insulin injections (up to twice a day) to control diabetes. Oral medications and a high-fiber diet can also work to reverse the disease and get your dog back to a healthy state.
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.
Because diarrhea can easily lead to dehydration, be sure your dog has plenty of clean water available, then take your pooch to the vet if the diarrhea persists for more than a day, or immediately if there’s also fever, lethargy, vomiting, dark or bloody stools, or loss of appetite.
Laryngeal paralysis is unilateral or bilateral paralysis of the larynx. In dogs it can be congenital, seen in the Bouvier des Flandres, Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, Rottweiler and Huskies, or an acquired, idiopathic disease, seen in older Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, St. Bernards, and Irish Setters. Signs include change in voice and difficulty breathing.
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.
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.
1. Obesity: Obesity has become as serious of a problem in our pets as it is in the human population. Sadly, overweight pets are more prone to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and premature death. But while underlying disease or slow metabolism might be a factor, all too often, pet obesity is caused by doting pet parents who overfeed and underexercise their cats and dogs. There is no quick fix for obesity, but, just like with a human diet, check with your veterinarian for feeding and exercise guidelines. It might be as easy as swapping the dog treats with green beans or giving your cat a five-minute run with the laser pointer before bed. It might sound crazy, but when it comes to obesity, we can love our pets to death. You can help your dogs and cats live long lives by giving them the tools to stay light on their paws.
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.
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis is a disease of dogs characterized by sudden vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The symptoms are usually severe and can be fatal if not treated. It is most common in young adult dogs of any breed, but especially small dogs such as the Toy Poodle and Miniature Schnauzer.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease of people and animals transmitted by ticks. In dogs the most common signs of illness of Lyme disease are lameness, fever, reluctance to eat, lack of energy, and enlarged lymph nodes, with or without swollen, painful joints.
Epilepsy in dogs can be a primary, idiopathic, inherited disorder or secondary to previous head trauma or CNS infections. Idiopathic epilepsy is commonly found in breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Beagles, and Dachshunds. The most common sign recurring generalized seizures beginning at a young adult age.
Subvalvular aortic stenosis (Subaortic stenosis; SAS) is a congenital disease in dogs characterized by left ventricular outflow tract obstruction by a discrete ring or tunnel of fibrous tissue immediately below the aortic valve. It is inherited in Newfoundlands, and also found in Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Boxers, Bulldogs, German Shepherds, and Samoyeds. Signs include a left basilar systolic heart murmur, weak femoral pulse, fainting and exercise intolerance. Dogs with severe SAS are predisposed to dying suddenly.
Symptoms are basic: abdominal heaving and drooling caused by nausea. If your dog also has diarrhea, blood in the vomit, seems lethargic, continues vomiting, or can’t hold down liquids, contact your vet right away to prevent life-threatening dehydration.
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.
Blastomycosis* is a fungal disease caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis that affects both dogs and humans. Dogs are ten times more likely to be infected than humans. The disease in dogs can affect the eyes, brain, lungs, skin, or bones.
With two rescue dogs brought to Canada being diagnosed with what are believed to be the country’s first cases of dog flu, dog owners are being warned to keep an eye out for the highly contagious virus.
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.
Aspergillosis* is a fungal disease that in dogs is caused primarily by Aspergillus fumigatus. Infection is usually in the nasal cavity. Typical signs in dogs include sneezing, nasal discharge, bleeding from the nose, and ulcerations of the nose.
How to treat: A steady diet and regular exercise are the two things needed when your dog is overweight. It’s important to recognize the severity of your dog’s obesity and be sure to administer the right changes in nutrition and exercise. Too much exercise, or too significant a reduction in food, can cause other issues, so you should consult your vet before making any drastic changes to the diet.