Watch Out for These 7 Common Dog Illnesses

Conditions such as arthritis are familiar, but there are several here you may not know about. Learn what they are — and how you can possibly prevent them.

By: Katie@!
Don’t forget to keep my vaccinations up to date. By: [email protected]!

Although dogs don’t necessarily fall prey to the cold or flu as often as we do, there are some common illnesses and conditions that dogs can and do get.

Some of these you’ll definitely recognize, and others you might not. Almost all of them are preventable.

1. Kennel Cough

Think of kennel cough as the equivalent of bronchitis in humans. It’s an infection of the windpipe and voice box area that causes a dog to cough and sound like a goose — there’s a honking type of noise that goes along with this cough.

Some dogs, but not all, develop fevers or nasal discharge, and may cough up some phlegm after exercise.

Kennel cough is highly contagious, which is why when your dog has it he won’t be allowed in a kennel. There are some vaccinations, so ask your veterinarian about them.

2. Obesity

Although this isn’t something your dog can innocently “catch,” it can be prevented.

Obesity in dogs can lead to other diseases such as arthritis and diabetes. Just as in people, too much weight is not good.

It’s all about the calories in and calories out. If you’re feeding your dog more calories than she’s using, she’s going to store those calories as fat. The longer this goes on, the more fat there is — and then bam, you wake up one day to Roly Poly Puppy.

Quick tips for preventing obesity in your dog:

  • Understand what you are feeding her.
  • Know much to feed her.
  • Make sure she gets lots of exercise.

Consult with your vet before making any dietary changes and to get advice on a weight-loss regimen.

3. Canine Distemper

Like rabies, this is another preventable disease that can have devastating consequences if you ignore the vaccine. Distemper affects the central nervous system in your pup as well as respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts.

Unlike rabies, distemper can be contracted through the air.

When a dog is infected, he will show signs such as:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Possibly nose or eye discharge

Distemper can be fatal, and it is always dangerous and distressing for both the dog and the family. Don’t skip this critical vaccination.

4. Canine Parvovirus

More commonly known as CPV or parvo, this disease can be fatal if left untreated.

CPV attacks the dog by first taking up residence in the lymph nodes, where it sets up shop by dividing and preparing to conquer the body. The bone marrow and intestinal walls are the areas hit hardest by CPV.

The virus makes it more difficult for the body to produce white blood cells, and because of that it can more easily enter the intestinal area.

Puppies and younger dogs are more susceptible to CPV, so get this vaccine taken care of before bringing your dog out among other dogs.

5. Arthritis

We all get a little creakier as we get older. The same goes for your dog.

Although it is more common in the golden years, arthritis can really be contracted by dogs of any age.

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage around the joints wears down. Cartilage is like the lube of the joint — and when it’s gone, moving around can become painful. Causes include age, trauma, obesity or inherited conditions.

Dogs with arthritis may show some of these signs:

  • Moving stiffly
  • Reluctance to go up and down stairs
  • Limping
  • Obvious pain when prodded in affected areas
  • Pain or swelling that can’t be readily explained
  • Not as flexible as they once were

Although there is no way to totally prevent arthritis — especially if your dog’s breed is prone to it as an inherited trait — it is important to try and minimize the effects.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight, supply the appropriate nutrition and make regular visits to the vet. Arthritis cannot be cured, but it can be treated with various pain medications if necessary.

In this video, someone explains how arthritis affected his dog, Katie:

6. Rabies

Rabies isn’t the terror that it once was, with the vaccination being so common now. But if you do not stay on top of your dog’s rabies vaccine, she will become susceptible to this deadly disease.

And make no mistake, rabies is deadly. If left untreated in humans, it has an estimated 99.9 percent fatality rate.

Rabies attacks the central nervous system and is transmitted through the saliva of infected mammals.

Stay on top of the vaccination for this disease, but also keep your eyes open for potentially infected animals if you live in rural areas where skunks, foxes, raccoons, bats or coyotes are common. If you see something, say something — call Animal Control right away.

Signs that an animal is rabid:

  • The classic heavy drool
  • A nocturnal animal moving about in the daytime
  • Aggressive or self-mutilating behavior
  • Paralyzed or disoriented

7. Lyme Disease

Ticks infected with Lyme disease can transmit the disease to your dog when they attach themselves and begin to feed.

Usually it takes about 12 hours or more for the disease to pass from the saliva of the tick to your dog. Common sense dictates that the sooner you find ticks and remove them, the better off your dog will be — so look for ticks regularly.

Dogs who contract Lyme disease may show pain or swelling in the joints, stiffness, pain, fever and weakness.

The happy news is that usually Lyme disease responds well to antibiotics.


This pet health content was reviewed by a veterinarian.

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