The 5 Most Urgent Dog Health Issues

Staying abreast of dog health issues will help you know how to prevent your dog from contracting harmful viruses and infections. The 5 most urgent dog health issues include canine distemper, parvovirus infection, dog poisoning, rabies and Lyme disease.

Canine Distemper

This virus is generally a fatal one and is easily spread to other animals by body fluid transmission. The disease attacks the respiratory, central nervous and gastrointestinal system, resulting in permanent neurological damage. Symptoms of distemper are:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Coughing
  • Depression

Canine distemper is prevented by regular vaccinations.

Parvovirus Infection

This virus attacks the dog's bone marrow cells, damaging the immune system and intestinal tract. Puppies younger than 1 year old are most vulnerable because they have insufficient immunity. Symptoms of parvo are fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and a bloody and rank stool.

Infected dogs die of dehydration, as there is no cure for the disease. Treatment involves keeping fluids and antibiotics at a high level. If detected and treated early on in development, the dog has a good chance of surviving. The disease is spread through the feces, so keep your dog away from public parks, puppy or obedience classes and other such areas with high exposure risk.

Dog Poisoning

Keep dangerous household items and other toxic foods away from your dog to keep him healthy. Poisoning can come from chocolate, weed killers, paints, household cleaners and insecticides. Too much pet medication can also be toxic. If your dog is exposed to any of these toxic sources, he might develop diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and appetite loss.

Poisoning can lead to other serious conditions such as jaundice, liver damage and death. Keep these toxic products out of your dog's reach to prevent these dog health issues.


Dog rabies is one of the most well-known and feared viruses. The virus is spread when an infected mammal or bat bites another, resulting in virus transmission through body fluids. Nervousness and anxiety sets in, followed by irritability and paralysis.

Rabies not only transmits from dog to dog, but from dog to human. Helping your dog stay away from potential rabies carriers will also reduce your chances of infection. No treatment currently exists for the virus, but preventative vaccinations are available. To prevent rabies, keep your dog current on vaccinations and keep him away from stray dogs.

Lyme Disease

This disease is caused by the Borellia bacteria, carried typically by deer ticks. Signs of infection are lymph node inflammation, appetite loss and lethargy. The bacterium attacks the nervous system, kidney and heart. Frequently grooming your dog to identify ticks and keeping your dog from areas of high exposure will help prevention.

Spotting this disease in its early stages and treating it appropriately will improve your dog's chances of survival. Antibiotics such as metronidazole and tetracycline are usually administered for treatment.

Many of the most urgent dog health issues can be prevented by keeping the dog's vaccinations up to date, and by maintaining a clean dog environment.