Types of k9 Diseases

Types of k9 Diseases

Dogs can experience a variety of diseases and health conditions throughout their lives, requiring you to understand the types of diseases and their mitigation for responsible pet ownership and proactive healthcare.

Some common dog diseases/problems include parasitic diseases, infectious diseases, orthopedic disorders, allergies, and cancer. While most of these conditions are treatable, some may pose a severe health issue.

Read on to learn more about the types of diseases your dog might suffer and how to implement appropriate preventive and treatment measures.

Types of Diseases That Dogs Suffer From

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), in 2020, pet owners in the United States spent an estimated $31.4 billion on veterinary care specifically for their dogs.

Despite the best efforts of dog owners to provide proper care, nutrition, and a safe environment for their dogs, specific health issues beyond their control can arise.

Here are some common types of diseases that dogs may experience:

1. Parasitic Diseases

Dogs are likely affected by parasitic infestations, such as fleas, ticks, mites, and worms.

A parasitic infection in dogs refers to parasites within a dog's body that causes harm and disrupts normal physiological functions.

Parasites live and feed off other organisms and can cause various health problems in dogs.

According to the National Library of Medicine, intestinal parasites were detected in 20% of dogs and 85% of dog parks across the USA.

Parasitic diseases

Likewise, the American Heartworm Society’s survey of veterinary clinics across the United States claimed that approximately 1 in 20 dogs tested positive for heartworm infection in 2020.

Parasitic infections can vary in severity, ranging from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions.

 Common parasitic diseases that dogs may suffer from:

  • Fleas: Fleas are external parasites that feed on the blood of dogs. Infestations can lead to intense itching, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even anemia in severe cases.
  • Ticks: Ticks are another external parasite that attaches to a dog's skin and feeds on blood. Symptoms can include fever, lethargy, joint pain, and in severe cases, organ damage.
  • Ear Mites: Ear mites are tiny parasites that infest a dog's ear canal. They cause intense itching and inflammation and can lead to ear infections.
  • Intestinal Worms: Dogs can be affected by several types of intestinal worms, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. These worms can cause various symptoms, such as diarrhea, weight loss, poor coat condition, abdominal discomfort, and in severe cases, anemia.
  • Heartworms: Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic Dirofilaria immitis. Symptoms may include coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and weight loss. If left untreated, heartworm disease can lead to heart failure.
  • Sarcoptic Mange: The Sarcoptes scabies mite causes sarcoptic mange, also known as canine scabies. It results in intense itching, hair loss, redness, and skin irritation.

Preventing and treating parasitic diseases in dogs typically involves many different approaches, including regular preventive measures such as:

  • Regular veterinary check-ups
  • Up-to-date vaccinations
  • Flea and tick control
  • Regular deworming
  • Keeping the dog's living environment clean
  • Maintaining good hygiene practices, such as grooming, bathing, and proper cleaning of ears
  • Minimize exposure to environments where parasites are prevalent

 Moreover, if you suspect your dog has a parasitic infection or notice any signs or symptoms of illness, consult a veterinarian to determine the most appropriate preventive measures and treatment options based on their specific needs and risk factors.

2. Infectious Diseases

Dogs are prone to infectious diseases transmitted through contact with infected dogs or other animals, including viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. 

These organisms can enter a dog's body and cause illness or disease by invading and multiplying within tissues or releasing toxins.

Many studies have investigated that infectious diseases are reported to be the leading cause of death in puppies and younger dogs.

Infectious Diseases

Following are some details about infectious diseases that dogs may experience.

  • Canine Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects puppies and unvaccinated dogs, which attacks the dog's gastrointestinal system, leading to severe vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), dehydration, lethargy, and a compromised immune system.
  • Rabies: Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is spread through infected animals' saliva, usually through bites. The rabies virus is 100% fatal in animals unless treated quickly. Some symptoms include seizures, paralysis, aggression, and lack of coordination.
  • Canine Distemper: Distemper is a viral disease that affects multiple organs, including the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, causing symptoms such as fever, coughing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, neurological signs, and eventually death.
  • Infectious Hepatitis: This viral disease is caused by the canine adenovirus and primarily affects the liver, kidneys, and endothelial cells. Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, jaundice, and, in severe cases, liver failure.
  • Kennel Cough: Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a combination of viruses, including canine parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. Dogs with kennel cough typically develop a persistent cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, and mild lethargy.
  • Ringworm: Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects dogs' skin, hair, and nails. It appears as circular patches of hair loss, redness, and scaling. Ringworm in dogs is not caused by a worm but by various dermatophyte fungi.
  • Lyme Disease: The bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease, which is transmitted to dogs through the bite of infected ticks. In rare cases, it results in lameness, joint swelling, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, and kidney or heart problems.
  • Canine Influenza: Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. 

Here are some key measures to consider to prevent and treat infectious diseases. 

  • Ensure your dog receives appropriate vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to assess your dog's overall health, perform necessary tests, and provide appropriate preventive care.
  • Follow a comprehensive parasite control program for your dog that includes regular use of flea and tick preventive products, regular deworming for intestinal parasites, and preventive measures against heartworm disease.
  • Practice good hygiene for your dog and their living environment, including regular bathing, grooming, and cleaning of bedding and toys.
  • Limit your dog's exposure to high-risk areas where infectious diseases are more prevalent.
  • If your dog is diagnosed with a bacterial or viral infection, follow your veterinarian's prescribed treatment plan: a course of antibiotics for bacterial infections or antiviral medications for specific viral infections.

By following these measures and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help protect your dog from potential infections and promote their overall health and well-being.

3. Orthopedic Disorders

Orthopedic disorders are conditions that affect the bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues of dogs.

These disorders can affect the bones, joints, and muscles, leading to pain, lameness, mobility issues, and decreased quality of life. 

They can significantly impact a dog's ability to walk, run, play, and perform daily activities. 

Orthopedic Disorders dog

Approximately 20% and 80% of dogs over one and eight years of age in the US are estimated to have osteoarthritis. These disorders can be congenital or developed over time.

Dogs may suffer from various orthopedic conditions; here are some common orthopedic disorders.


  • Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia occurs when the elbow joint fails to grow normally, resulting in abnormal wear and strain on the joint surfaces. The symptoms include lameness, pain, and reduced range of motion in the front limbs.
  • Luxating Patella: Luxating patella is a condition where the kneecap moves out of its normal position. It can be inborn or acquired due to injury. Symptoms may include intermittent or persistent lameness, difficulty walking, and abnormal hind-limb movement.
  • Osteochondritis: Osteochondritis is a condition where a fragment of cartilage and the underlying bone becomes detached within a joint. It commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, or hock joints, causing lameness, joint swelling, and limited range of motion.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition where the hip joint does not develop properly. This condition can lead to joint instability, inflammation, pain, and, eventually, osteoarthritis.
  • Cruciate Ligament Injuries: The cruciate ligaments are located in the knee joint, and help stabilizes it. Dogs can experience partial or complete tears in these ligaments due to trauma or degeneration, causing lameness, swelling, and pain in the affected leg.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease: Intervertebral Disc Disease is a condition that affects the spinal discs, causing them to degenerate or herniate. Symptoms include back pain, weakness, paralysis, and difficulty in walkin 

Diagnosis and treating orthopedic disorders in dogs involves a combination of proactive measures and appropriate medical interventions.

Here are some strategies to help diagnose and treat orthopedic disorders in dogs.

  • Choose a responsible breeder who conducts health screenings for orthopedic conditions in their breeding dogs.
  • Obesity strains the joints, contributing to orthopedic issues. Provide a balanced and appropriate diet to maintain a healthy weight for your dog.
  • Regular, moderate exercise is recommended to help promote muscle strength, joint stability, and overall joint health.
  • Remove hazardous objects from your dog’s surroundings, such as sharp objects or slippery surfaces, that could lead to traumatic injuries.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about appropriate supplements that may support joint health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
  • If you suspect or notice any signs of orthopedic issues in your dog, seek veterinary advice promptly.

It is crucial to note that prevention strategies are more effective when implemented early in a dog's life.

However, even if your dog has already developed an orthopedic disorder, appropriate treatment, and management can help improve their quality of life and minimize further progression.

Treatment of orthopedic disorders may involve physical examinations, radiographs (X-rays), joint fluid analysis, and sometimes advanced imaging techniques like MRI or CT scans.

Work closely with your veterinarian to develop a personalized plan for your dog's specific needs and improve their quality of life.

4. Allergies

Dogs can develop allergies to environmental triggers, food ingredients, or specific substances when their immune system overreacts to typically harmless substances.

These substances, called allergens, can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible dogs, where allergies affect up to 10-20% of the canine population.

It can cause skin problems, itching, inflammation, and gastrointestinal issues.

Allergies in dog

Common allergies that dogs may experience include:

  • Food Allergies: Food allergies occur when a dog's immune system reacts to specific ingredients in its Symptoms can include itching, skin rashes, gastrointestinal upset, ear infections, and sometimes respiratory signs.
  • Environmental Allergies: Environmental allergies are allergic reactions to substances like pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and certain types of grass or trees in the environment. Dogs with this allergy experience intense itching, redness, skin rashes, hair loss, recurrent ear infections, and sometimes respiratory signs like sneezing or coughing.
  • Flea Allergy: Flea allergy is a common allergic reaction to flea saliva. Symptoms include severe itching, redness, papules or pustules, hair loss, and skin infections.

Here are some key measures to prevent and treat dog allergies.

  • Avoid or minimize their exposure to specific environmental triggers and reduce contact with known irritants.
  • Regularly groom your dog to help remove allergens from your dog's coat and skin.
  • Bath your dog with hypoallergenic shampoos.
  • Clean their living areas with products your veterinarian recommends to avoid further irritation.
  • Keep your dog on a regular flea prevention program.
  • Feed your dog a balanced, high-quality diet that supports their overall health and immune system.
  • Avoid feeding specific food your dog is allergic to (Check with the vet).
  • Schedule regular check-ups with the veterinarian to monitor your dog's allergies and overall health.
  • They can provide guidance on preventive measures, adjust treatment plans if necessary, and address any concerns or complications.
  • If your dog's allergies are difficult to manage or their symptoms are severe, your veterinarian may recommend allergy testing to identify specific allergens and guide targeted treatment plans. 

Managing allergies in dogs can be a long process, and it requires close collaboration with a veterinarian to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Regular monitoring, preventive measures, and addressing underlying causes are essential for improving the dog's comfort and quality of life.

5. Cancer

Like in humans, cancer is a disease in canines that causes uncontrollable growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body.

According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, one in every four dogs will develop cancer at some point, and almost 50% of dogs over age ten will develop cancer.

While this is one of the most lethal canine diseases, more than half of all cancer types in dogs can be treated if detected early.

Cancer in Dogs

Common Types of Canine Cancer

  • Melanoma: Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can occur in dogs, particularly in pigmented areas like the mouth, toes, or mucous membranes.
  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in dogs, affecting the lymphatic system. It typically presents as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, lethargy, and decreased appetite.
  • Mast Cell Tumors: Mast cell tumors are a type of skin cancer that can appear as raised masses or lumps on the skin. They can vary in size, shape, and texture and may cause itching, redness, or ulceration.
  • Mammary Tumors: Mammary tumors are common in unspayed female dogs. They can be benign or malignant and may require surgical removal.
  • Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer mainly affecting large and giant breed dogs. It usually develops in the long bones and causes lameness, swelling, and pain.
  • Hemangiosarcoma: Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of the blood vessels and commonly affects the spleen, liver, or heart. It is often aggressive and may not be detected until it reaches an advanced stage.

 The exact causes of cancer in dogs are often unknown, but various factors can increase the risk. These may include genetics, environmental factors such as exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, hormonal influences, and compromised immune function.

A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination if cancer is suspected and may recommend further diagnostic tests. These may include blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, biopsies, or cytology to evaluate the cells.

Treatment options for cancer in dogs vary depending on the type, stage, and location of the tumor, as well as the dog's overall health.

Common treatment modalities include:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor is often the primary treatment option if the tumor is localized and can be completely excised.
  • Chemotherapy may be used to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. It can be administered orally, intravenously, or topically.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells. It is often used for localized tumors or to relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Immunotherapy uses the dog's immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. It may involve vaccines or medications that stimulate the immune response.
  • In cases where a cure is impossible, palliative care focuses on providing pain relief, improving quality of life, and managing symptoms.

The prognosis for dogs with cancer varies depending on the type, stage, and treatment options available. Some cancers may respond well to treatment, while others may be more aggressive. 

Early detection, prompt intervention, and a comprehensive treatment plan can improve the chances of a positive outcome.

If you suspect that your dog may have cancer or if you notice any concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian. 

They can diagnose properly, recommend appropriate treatment options, and guide you through managing your dog's cancer.


Those mentioned above are only a few dog diseases, and various other diseases and health issues can affect dogs. 

Regular veterinary care, including routine check-ups and vaccinations, can help prevent and detect diseases early, ensuring the well-being of your furry companion.

If you have doubts about your dog’s health, talk to your vet about your concerns; otherwise, contact the best pet hospital in Des Moines, Urban Pet Supply.


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