7 Common Dog Diseases and How to Treat Them


There are many different health problems that can affect dogs, ranging from the relatively harmless to more serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, most of these diseases are preventable or treatable, and often both! Here are 7 common dog diseases and how to treat them.

1) Canine Distemper

Distemper is one of two canine diseases that are spread by a virus; It has a similar appearance to measles in humans. Since distemper can be spread through both direct contact and airborne transmission, it’s important to keep your dog isolated while they recover from symptoms. Be sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an anti-bacterial cleanser after cleaning up after your dog, especially if you have small children in your home. During recovery, dogs are typically given fluids under their skin via IV, but some cases can require intensive care for several days (or even weeks) at a veterinary hospital.

2) Parvovirus

A highly contagious, life-threatening disease that afflicts most dogs before they reach adulthood. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and in some cases, death. Symptoms usually occur within four days of exposure to parvovirus but may take up to a week. Treatment includes intravenous fluids (IV) or antibiotics in addition to supportive care (force-feeding). Antibiotics may be prescribed for secondary infections such as kennel cough that are often associated with parvovirus. Recovery time is typically two weeks or longer. Though vaccines exist for prevention purposes, no cure exists for existing cases of parvovirus infection; it must run its course.


3) Rabies

The good news about rabies is that it’s rare. The bad news is that if your dog catches it, there’s no cure for him. If you see a weird bat hanging around your neighborhood, you should report it immediately. If a neighborhood dog gets bitten by a bat (not likely), he should be quarantined for six months to make sure he doesn’t develop rabies—and in that time, he should be vaccinated regularly. (Rabies shots cost less than $10.) Generally speaking, dogs are more likely to get parvo or distemper than rabies. But keep an eye out just in case!

4) Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

This is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach twists and/or fills with gas. Symptoms include distended abdomen, difficulty breathing, pale gums, restlessness, trying to get comfortable but not being able to because of pain; then panic if you try to leave her side. The longer gastric torsion goes on untreated, the higher risk of death—even if surgical correction is successful. Act quickly; go straight from home to vet (don’t wait for an appointment); your dog should be sedated prior to examination and radiographs; if surgery isn’t possible at first visit then it should be done immediately after surgery consult.

5) Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Dog Flu)

This is an incredibly contagious virus that spreads very easily in animal shelters, dog parks, or just about anywhere dogs are in close contact. This highly infectious disease can lead to a dangerous condition called canine circovirus, which results in serious liver damage. If you suspect your dog has contracted canine hepatitis, it’s important to keep them isolated from other animals—especially if they are already sick or have pre-existing medical conditions. The best way to treat canine hepatitis is with a vaccination that will boost their immune system. If your pup is showing symptoms of canine hepatic disorder (diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice), make sure you take them for immediate treatment! The longer you wait before seeking treatment for infected dogs means less of a chance for survival.

6) Parasites in Dogs – Heartworm

Heartworm disease is a parasitic infection caused by hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum). Heartworm is contracted by dogs through mosquito bites, but can also be transmitted via other infected animals. Dogs should be tested annually for heartworm, as symptoms are easily mistaken for other common diseases such as Lyme disease or asthma. Left untreated, heartworm can result in organ failure, vision loss, and death.

7) Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)

The first cases of dog flu were reported in Chicago in 2015. The disease is caused by an H3N2 virus that affects dogs similar to people with a seasonal influenza (flu). It can lead to coughing, sneezing, lethargy, runny nose, gagging, pneumonia and even death. Most dogs are vaccinated against canine influenza but if yours is not it’s crucial you prevent infection. Wash your hands after handling your dog or cleaning its kennel area. Keep infected dogs away from other dogs as you can spread it through direct contact or contaminated objects like food bowls or leashes. Always seek veterinary treatment immediately if your dog begins displaying symptoms of canine influenza as treatment usually works well if begun early on.


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