Common Dog Diseases and How to Prevent Them

An essential part of keeping your dog healthy is to know the common dog diseases and how to prevent them. If you can recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses in dogs, you can quickly identify when your pet might be at risk, and seek medical help in due time.

Here, we discuss some of the most common and potentially deadly (yet preventable) health issues that dogs of all breeds and sizes can suffer from.


Obesity is a growing problem, especially among senior dogs. It can be a result of overfeeding, a lack of exercise, or a combination of both. Overweight dogs are more prone to developing diabetes and arthritis at one point or another.

The signs that your dog is gaining too much weight include:

  • You cannot easily feel their ribs and spine by touching or slightly pressing their midsection
  • They are no longer as active as they used to be

To prevent your pooch from becoming obese, make sure to check their weight on a regular basis, and exercise with them daily. Consult a vet or animal nutritionist to come with a proper meal plan and try to limit the amount of grainy foods in their diet.


Heartworm refers to a parasite that spreads infection in dogs. It is carried by mosquitoes and can enter your pet’s bloodstream if they are bitten by this insect.

If your dog becomes the target of heartworm, it will directly affect the functioning of their heart as heartworms lodge into the blood vessels where they start reproducing in large numbers.

The symptoms of this disease are:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Excessive coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling tired for no apparent reason
  • Lack of interest in activities that involve moderate exercise
  • Poor coat health

To reduce the risk of heartworm, try to keep your house free of mosquitoes by spraying pesticides. There are particular medications, including topical creams available for keeping dogs safe from heartworm. You can use them after consulting with a vet.

Since heartworm is often hard to identify until it reaches later stages, it’s best to routinely screen your dog through blood tests.


Diabetes has pretty much the same effect on dogs as it does on people. It can be genetically passed on to your pet, or it can be a result of obesity as well. Some autoimmune diseases can also lead to diabetes in dogs.

Dogs with diabetes generally exhibit the following signs:

  • Urinating frequently
  • Drinking too much water
  • Decrease in weight
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dandruff or other chronic skin infections

Diabetes is easily preventable if you take certain precautions. For instance, you must talk to an animal nutritionist to ensure that you are following the right diet for keeping your dog healthy.  Also, your pet should do regular exercise and maintain an active routine as it will go a long way in keeping diabetes at bay.


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death among senior dogs. Just like humans, dogs too can get different types of cancer. However, it cannot be said for sure what causes cancer in dogs. It is usually hereditary, but sometimes, certain environmental factors can also lead to cancer in dogs.

Symptoms of dog cancer include:

  • Swelling or sores in different parts of the body
  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Breathlessness
  • Difficulty in urinating or defecating

Since the factors responsible for the development of dog cancer are not known, there is little you can do to prevent your pooch from this deadly disease.

Kennel Cough

Canine tracheobronchitis, usually known as kennel cough, is one of the most common dog diseases, affecting both wild and domesticated species. It involves a range of respiratory issues that stem from either viral or bacterial infections.

You can think of kennel cough as the canine version of the common cold in humans. This disease is extremely contagious, although the intensity of kennel cough can vary between dogs of different ages.

The symptoms of kennel cough are:

  • Excessive dry coughing (resembling a rough, honking sound)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite (in some dogs only)
  • Fever

Vaccinating your pet against Bordetella and parainfluenza can significantly reduce their chances of catching kennel cough.


Parvovirus is a virus that affects the heart and intestinal tract of dogs.

The symptoms of canine parvovirus include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea often with a bloody discharge

Parvovirus is a lethal disease but can be prevented by proper vaccinations. Also, make sure that your pet does not come in contact with, or use stuff like toys or food bowl, of a dog suffering from parvovirus.


Canine coronavirus is another contagious dog disease that affects the functioning of their digestive system. It might not cause any significant harm to adult dogs but can prove to be fatal for puppies.

The symptoms of coronavirus are typically observed in young dogs only. This includes:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

Canine coronavirus vaccines can successfully prevent your furry friend from becoming the target of this disease. They are often available in combination, which means that the same medicine can also help keep your pooch safe from other viral infections like canine distemper and the parvovirus.

Canine Hepatitis

Commonly known as Rubarth Disease, canine hepatitis is a type of viral infection that can have an adverse effect on your dog’s liver and kidneys.

It is typically transmitted through urine, feces, blood, or saliva of other canines suffering from the same.

The symptoms of hepatitis in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of appetite

Vaccination against canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) can help protect your pet from developing hepatitis.

Routine checkups are one of the primary requirements for keeping your dog healthy.

If your dog is showing some of the symptoms of the common dog disease discussed above, or if you feel that they have been acting differently lately, you must not delay taking them to the vet immediately.

by Bobby J Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™

Facts About Animal Homelessness:

  1. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
  2. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
  3. Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
  4. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  5. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
  6. 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
  7. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
  8. It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
  9. Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
  10. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
  11. According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

Here are a some adoptions for consideration: