Common Dog Diseases

Distemper (CDV – canine distemper virus)

A highly contagious viral infection that affects the central nervous and respiratory systems. Distemper commonly affects non-vaccinated puppies between 3 and 6 months of age. Prior to the development of vaccinations, this was the leading killer of puppies.

Parvo (CPV-2a/b/c – canine parvovirus)

A virus that typically affects the gastrointestinal tract. Bloody diarrhea, vomiting, not eating and/or drinking and lethargy are common symptoms. Diarrhea and vomiting can drain your dog of vital fluids and lead to dehydration and death. While there is no guarantee that a puppy with parvo can be saved, the odds are greatly improved with constant medical attention. Due to the hardiness of this virus and it's long life in the environment, no yard can guarantee that the parvovirus is not in the soil. Any canine with an active case of parvovirus will shed billions of virus cells into the environment.

Ehrlichia (ehrlichiosis)

A bacterial disease that lives within the white blood cells of it's host. It is spread by the Brown Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick. It can cause blood, lymph node, spleen and liver disorders.

Lyme Disease

Is another disease caused by tick bites. In the case of Lyme Disease it is the Deer Tick that is responsible. The typical symptoms are a high fever, loss of appetite and lameness. Humans and canines do not have the same symptoms. It causes problems in many parts of the body.


A bacterial disease can which cause damage to the liver, kidneys, brain and heart. It is spread by wildlife. It is contagious to people. Your pet may or may not have symptoms. These are some typical symptoms: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, refusal to eat, depression, severe muscle pain and unable to have puppies.

Heartworm Disease

This is the disease caused by the damage done by heartworms. Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chronic short coughing, lethargy, abdominal swelling and congestive heart failure.

Heartworm Infection

Heartworms are parasites that lodge in the vessels near the heart and lungs. They are spread by mosquitoes. A mosquito will bite an infected dog, the parasite will grow and when the mosquito later bites another dog, the parasite is transferred. It takes about 6 months for a heartworm to mature into an adult. For this reason, puppies under 6 months do not require testing. Any dog older than 6 months should either already be on prevention or should be tested. If the test is negative, prevention should be started. Prevention needs to be continued for the rest of your dogs life. Cats should also be on heartworm prevention. Heartworms are much more deadly in cats. When the heartworms migrate to the heart, they stay there. This results in inflammation, which restricts blood flow. In addition, they damage the heart.

Congestive Heart Failure

This is a weakness in the heart which allows fluid retention. Symptoms can be abdominal swelling and shortness of breath. Heartworm disease can cause this and it can also be related to aging, diet and genetics. There are treatments available for congestive heart failure.

Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)

is a highly contagious infectious bronchitis. It is commonly found in shelters and kennels. A repetitive honking cough is the primary symptom. It can also be spread at grooming places where dogs spend hours at a time in the company of other dogs.


Rabies is a viral disease of mammals most often spread by the bite of an infected animal. The virus infects the central nervous system and ultimately causes death. Once the symptoms appear, the disease is largely untreatable. Once symptoms do appear, death usually follows within ten days. It is most commonly spread by bites. The law requires a routine vaccination against rabies.

Sarcoptic Mange

This is caused by the sarcoptic mange mite. This mange is very itchy and is also known as scabies when transmitted to a person. It is highly contagious to both other animals and people. An injection and dipping in a lime-sulfur mixture is recommended. If you pick up scabies from your dog, contact your doctor for the proper medical attention.

Demodectic Mange (red mange)

This is caused by a reaction to the demodex mite. Most dogs will not react to this mite. Typically this mange will be seen in younger dogs with immature immune systems. Stress can also lower a dog’s immune responses to the point where this mite troubles them. It is not contagious. A chemical dip will be repeated at specific intervals will be necessary to clear up this problem. The tendency to develop demodectic mange can also be related to genetics. If your dog has a persistent problem with demodectic mange, spaying or neutering is recommended.