5 Potentially Deadly And Preventable Dog Diseases

Often times they suffer in silence, unable to tell us if their tummy hurts or what aches. As pet parents, we try to take the best care of our little guys and gals, but it can be hard when they can’t tell us what’s wrong. You need a heads-up on potential health problems and their risk factors, so you can prevent them altogether. Well, here it is, the most common yet preventable dog diseases.

1. Parvovirus

It’s part of the core vaccines all puppies should be given—which means most dogs should not actually get this preventable viral disease that attacks their intestines and heart. Puppies in breeding facilities or shelters are most at risk of coming in contact with an infected dog. Most dogs contract parvo by coming into contact with the poop of a contaminated dog, either directly or indirectly, like on a shoe.

Symptoms include severe diarrhea and weight loss, vomiting, and lethargy. The chance of survival is not great, more than half the dogs that get parvo will die. Puppies with parvo can survive but survival depends on the severity of the illness, age of the puppy, and swift medical treatment. But again, parvo is largely preventable by vaccine, much like several other highly deadly diseases part of the core vaccinations—distemper, hepatitis, and rabies.

2. Gastric Torsion (Bloat)

Does your dog wolf his food down in a blink of an eye? Then he may be at risk of bloat, which is basically an enlarged stomach; this can become even more complicated if the stomach also turns. This prevents fluid and air from escaping the stomach, which prevents the dog from belching or vomiting. Symptoms are sudden but noticeable: Retching and the inability to vomit, enlarged stomach area, restlessness, salivating.

Bloat can affect any dog at any age but there are breeds more susceptible to it: usually large breed, deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, German shepherds, boxers, Labrador retrievers, bloodhounds, and weimaraners. Mid-size and smaller dogs aren’t much at risk, with the exception of basset hounds and dachshunds, who also have long, broad chests. Have your dog eat slowly. Try putting food in Kong toys to make the dog dig around for it. This will prevent him from inhaling it and decrease the risk of bloat.

3. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease can develop on its own over a dog’s lifetime or as a complication from medications or other diseases (like Lyme disease). Unfortunately, kidney disease that develops over a pet’s lifetime, a.k.a. chronic kidney disease, is not preventable most of the time. Dogs with a genetic predisposition to kidney failure are most at risk.

However, there is one cause of chronic kidney disease that is preventable: dental disease. In the advanced stages of dental disease, bacteria from the dog’s gums can enter the bloodstream and damage vital organs, like the kidneys. Brush regularly throughout your dog’s lifetime, meaning at least once a week, offer bully sticks or other hard chew toys to remove plaque, or get a professional teeth cleaning done at your vet’s office, which requires anesthesia but is quite effective.

4. Lyme Disease

This tick-borne illness is another highly preventable disease. It is caused by a bacteria transmitted by slow-feeding deer ticks that have been attached to the dog for at least 18 hours. It’s the most common of the tick-related illnesses. The number-one symptom is lameness in limbs that can shift from leg to leg over a period of time. Stiffness and decrease in appetite also can occur.

If not caught, Lyme disease can lead to kidney problems—even kidney failure. Treatment is through antibiotics and although symptoms are usually resolved in four weeks, they may not always fully go away. Keeping your dog away from tick-prone areas and checking your dog for ticks are always good ideas, but preventative tick medicines are the most effective way to prevent Lyme disease, and other tick-borne illnesses

5. Heartworm Disease

Would you rather pay for heartworm medication now or costly and painful treatment later? Unfortunately, most people choose the latter, even though preventative meds are fairly inexpensive. All it takes for your dog to get heartworm is a single bite from an infected mosquito. If you live in a heartworm endemic area, which is an area with mosquitoes, heartworm prevention is a must. There are parts of the country where mosquitoes aren’t prevalent and therefore heartworm prevention isn’t used as frequently.

It used to be dry climates were considered safe from heartworm, but the disease has been reported in all 50 states. Better to be safe than sorry, especially considering the involved treatment. Heartworm disease is treatable with an intramuscular injection given multiple times. It is painful but effective in most cases.


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Faith Courtney is a dog lover who can’t get enough of K9 love. She’s had dogs around her home since she was 8 years old. Many years on, she still keeps dogs around her home. Her family likes nothing more than to take the dogs out to the a dog park where they all can stretch their legs.



Check out this article on common health issues in your dogs.    My son’s dog, Blaze, was a beautiful black and tan Doberman.  He had a lump that had to be removed.  Once home he didn’t seem to act normally. but his then wife, didn’t call th vet.  The day after the surgery my son went to work and when he got home at midnight, Blaze greeted him and fell over dead.   He had bloat related to the surgery.   Bloat is a deadly disease and kills quickly.   If you have a large dog always be aware of the signs of bloat.

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