8 Common Illnesses in Dogs and How to Treat Them


You love your dog, and you want to make sure that he or she is as healthy as possible. As a loving pet parent, it’s part of your job to be sure that your dog receives timely treatment when he or she is ill. There are a wide variety of canine diseases, but here is a handy list of some of the more common ones. Learn how to recognize them and what you can do to help your canine friend.


Topical preparations, such as Advantage and Frontline, are highly effective against the external parasites, fleas and ticks. They can be purchased online and in pet supply stores. They don’t require a prescription. Fleas can cause intense itching and discomfort for your pet. They can also cause a skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis, which can be severe.

Ticks can transmit disease, such as Lyme’s.

Dogs are also easily exposed to internal parasites. These can include heartworm, tapeworm and roundworm. Heartworm is spread by mosquito bites. It has a highly complex life cycle. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing and vomiting. It’s controllable by an oral medication called ivermectin, which is given once a month. You will need a veterinarian’s prescription. Heartworm is a serious matter. It can be fatal. If heartworm is a problem in your area, be sure your pet is protected.

Tapeworm is often transmitted to dogs through grooming. It’s carried by infected fleas. When the dog grooms himself or herself, infected fleas may be swallowed. This starts the tapeworm’s life cycle inside the canine. Look for little things that resemble tiny grains of white rice just outside your dog’s anal area. They may be moving. These are tapeworm egg cases and are clear proof of infection. A shot of a drug called praziquantel from your vet will clear the problem quickly, but be aware that this type of parasite can be acquired over and over again. Good flea control is key here. If the dog has no fleas, then no infection can occur from that source.

Roundworm can cause debilitating disease, including malnutrition. It can cause vomiting, weight loss and weakness. The parasite can be controlled by regular de-worming with a drug called pyrantel pamoate.


This virus is a special threat to puppies and young dogs. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • The dog refuses all food

Treatment consists of supportive care, but this may not be enough to save the dog’s life. To protect your dog, be sure he or she is vaccinated against this dangerous disease.

Kennel Cough

This is actually a loose term for several conditions that cause bronchial problems:

  • A frequent cough with a rough, goose-like, honking sound
  • Coughing up white foam
  • Fever
  • Nose discharge

Kennel cough isn’t usually fatal, but it’s miserable for your dog to endure. Treatment consists of supportive care and cough medication. Vaccination will protect your dog against at least some forms of kennel cough.


Possible symptoms include persistent skin infections, excessive thirst, weight loss and frequent urination. You may notice a peculiar, sweet, fruity odor on the animal’s breath. It’s a common cause of blindness in dogs. Protect your pet with plenty of daily exercise and a healthy canine diet. Make sure your pet maintains a normal weight for their size, sex and breed. Canine diabetes is manageable with diet and insulin, but it’s not curable.


This is actually caused by a fungus, not a worm. It’s easily transmitted to people. Symptoms include patchy areas of fur loss. On the bare skin, you may see circular areas that are red in the center. It’s treatable with topical preparations and oral medications. Get the animal to a vet immediately; this disease is highly contagious.


Dogs may develop all sorts of different types of cancer. You can’t prevent them all, but one thing you can do is to be sure your dog is spayed or neutered at a very young age. In a bitch, breast cancer is nearly totally preventable by spaying her before she can bear her first litter. Cancer of the testicles is 100% preventable by neutering your male dog.

Canine cancer often presents itself as an abnormal lump. As you pet your dog, always be aware of swellings or lumps that have developed.

Ear Infections

Dog ear infections may be caused by allergies, foreign bodies or bacteria. If your dog is pawing at the ear, shaking his or her head, rubbing the ear on objects, or displaying hearing loss, a visit to the vet is in order. Don’t ever try to probe the ear yourself; you may cause more damage. Let your vet determine the right treatment.


It’s true that rabies isn’t common among household pet canines. However, especially if you live in a rural or semi-rural area, it’s essential that your pet’s rabies vaccination is kept up to date. The disease is relatively common among wildlife. This includes raccoons, foxes, bats and wolves. Bats are common even in highly populated areas.

In fact, each year, up to 60,000 persons need preventive rabies treatment. This amazing figure is due to suspected exposure to the deadly virus.

Rabies is a lethal viral disease of the brain and nervous system. It’s transmitted by saliva, generally through a bite, but a scratch can potentially transmit it as well. It’s nearly 100% fatal in all cases. There is no treatment or cure. Vaccination is the only means of prevention.

Symptoms may include high fever, aggressive behavior, whining, fear or avoidance of water, snapping and stumbling about. The animal may have white froth at the mouth. Wild rabid animals may seem unnaturally friendly.

Never fail to vaccinate your pet against this disease.

There are many ways that illness may present itself in your beloved fur child. Be aware of any changes in his or her normal behavior. You know your animal better than anyone. Your dog is depending on you.


About Author

Kelly is DailyU’s lead blogger. She writes on a variety of topics and does not limit her creativity. Her passion in life is to write informative articles to help people in various life stages.

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