A Guide to Common Dog Ailments and Symptoms

Common dog ailments can be life threatening to your dog. Many common pet ailments are viral in nature, so vaccination is the key to preventing them. In other cases, however, it's important to know the symptoms of dog ailments, so that your pet doesn't succumb to a common illness. Here are some of the most common dog ailments and their symptoms.

Rabies Causes Irritability or Aggression

Rabies is a viral diseases, spread from one animal to another through the saliva. Rabies makes animals aggressive, so the disease is easily spread through bite wounds. Rabies is deadly and contagious to humans. All locales in the U.S. require rabies vaccinations by law.

Symptoms of rabies include, in the early stages, behavior changes, fever and slow eye reflexes. As the disease progresses, your dog may display increasingly aggressive behavior, excessive barking, irritability and restlessness. In its most advanced stage, rabies leads to motor breakdown, coma and death. Dogs with rabies must be euthanized.

Distemper Causes Diarrhea and Coughing

Canine distemper is another dangerous, incurable ailment that can affect your pet dog. Treatment is costly, and if your dog does survive canine distemper, he may retain lifelong neurological damage. Symptoms of the early stage of canine distemper include diarrhea, mucosal discharge from the eyes and nose, and coughing. Seizures accompany the disease as it progresses into its final stage.

Adult dogs have a fifty percent chance of surviving canine distemper, while puppies have only about a twenty percent chance of survival. Distemper is preventable by vaccine.

Parvovirus Especially Dangerous to Puppies

Parvovirus is another viral illness, that is especially dangeorus to puppies. Symptoms include decreased appetite, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. Treatment requires fluid support and the use of antibiotics; parvovirus kills about eighty percent of the dogs it infects. Luckily, parvovirus is also preventable by vaccine.

Heartworm Causes Coughing and Lethargy

Heartworm is a parasitic disease spread by mosquito bites; these parasitic worms live inside the chambers of your dog's heart. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, unwillingness to exercise, and congestive heart failure. Heartworm is difficult to treat, and many dogs don't survive treatment. It's easily preventable, however; simply administer a monthly dose of the heartworm preventative ivermectin.

Bloat Caused from Eating too Fast

Bloat is a life threatening condition common in large breeds of dogs, such as the Great Dane. Bloat occurs when your dog overeats or eats too fast, or when gas or fluid build up in your dog's stomach. In bloat, your dog's stomach can actually become twisted, cutting off circulation to internal organs. If not treated immediately, bloat can be deadly.

Symptoms of bloat include:

  • Dry heaves that occur every five to thirty minutes
  • Unexplained changes in personality or behavior
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Absence of normal digestive sounds in the abdomen
  • Swollen, bloated abdomen
  • Pale gums
  • Apparent weakness or collapse
  • Tapeworm Can Be Seen in Stool

Tapeworm is a very common parasitic ailment that affects most dogs. These parasites live in your dog's intestines, and can grow to be up to eight inches long. They are spread when your dog swallows a flea that contains tapeworm eggs.

If your dog has tapeworm, you'll notice small white segments of the worm moving around in his stool. Tapeworms are easy to treat with oral medication, or can be prevented with spot-on treatments.