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The 5 Most Common Dog Diseases

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Like people, our faithful companions are susceptible to all kinds of dog diseases. Because they can’t communicate with us verbally, we have to be on the watch for signs that they aren’t feeling themselves and that an illness could be the culprit. We have compiled a list of common dog diseases, and their symptoms, to help you determine if you may have a sick dog.

According to our recent claims data*, the most common dog illnesses are eye infections, gastroenteritis, cancer, skin infections, and ear infections.

Dog Eye Infection Symptoms

You may wonder, can dogs get pink eye? And, the answer is yes. In addition to conjunctivitis (a.k.a. pink eye), your dog may be susceptible to many types of dog eye infections. Luckily, you can probably spot an eye infection pretty easily just while your dog is giving you big, puppy dog eyes when begging for treats.

Symptoms may include crustiness or discharge around the eye, tear-stained fur on the face, and redness or inflammation of the eyelid lining. Be sure to look into your dog’s eyes regularly to check for this common illness – and, of course, and for the emotional reward of a loving gaze.

Some prevalent eye-related dog illnesses include:

  • Conjunctivitis- Eye may become red, swollen, and itchy, along with crust around the lid
  • Dry Eye- Reduced tear production can cause inflammation, squinting, and discharge
  • Cherry Eye- The result of an enlarged tear gland forming a cherry-like mass on the dog's eye
  • Epiphora- Stains on a dog’s facial fur caused by an overflow of tears
  • Glaucoma- A cloudy cornea and enlarged eye due to increased pressure in the eyeball
  • Ectropion- The upper eyelid turns outward, causing the lower lid to droop
  • Entropion- The eyelid rolls in, causing discharge and tearing
  • Cataract- The lens of the eye becomes cloudy, causing impaired vision and possible blindness
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- Retinal tissue degenerates-night blindness is often its first sign

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Dogs

Gastroenteritis, which is a general term for inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, presents the same unpleasant symptoms in dogs that it does in humans, like vomiting and diarrhea.

Gastroenteritis in dogs is often caused when they eat things they shouldn’t, the stomach flu, or it may signal a parasite. At times, it is a reaction to new food beings introduced to a dog diet or medications.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs

Cancer can be the most difficult of the common dog diseases on our list to detect. If identified in time, though, the same advanced treatment options humans have, like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and others, are available to dogs.

Schedule a visit to your veterinarian if any of these symptoms appear:

  • Unusual odors- If your dog has bad breath – worse than the typical case of bad dog breath – it could signal a tumor. Tumors can also cause foul odors to waft from a dog’s nose or tail end.
  • Lumps- When it comes to lumps on dogs, it is s best to get any lump or bump examined by your veterinarian as soon as you find it. It may just be a fatty tumor, wart, cyst, or an abscess caused by an insect bite, thorn, or other infection, but it’s wise to play it safe.
  • Sudden weight loss- If your dog is shedding pounds and their diet and exercise routine have remained the same, an illness may be lurking. It is important to take dog weight loss seriously.
  • Changes in behavior- A change in dog behavior is a good indicator that your pooch isn’t feeling well. They may act more aggressive due to physical pain, lose their appetite, or become lethargic.
  • Respiratory problems- Trouble breathing, like quick, shallow breaths, excessive panting, or loud noises signaling labored breathing can indicate a respiratory problem.
  • Pale gums- A change in gum pallor may be a sign of blood loss and is often associated with cancer, low blood pressure or anemia.
  • Unhealed sores and wounds- Keep an eye out for any open cuts or sores on your dog’s skin that may not be healing. Skin lesions can also be the sign of dermatological diseases or autoimmune diseases, such as lupus.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea- If your dog is showing signs of an upset tummy, like regular vomiting or extended bouts of diarrhea, call your veterinarian for advice on a course of action.

Symptoms of a Skin Infection in Dogs

Skin infections in dogs can be easy to spot. You may begin to notice bald patches on their coat or a smell permeating from their fur even after they’ve gotten a bath. Your dog’s skin might also look red, scabby, and have small raised bumps or pimples. They will also want to scratch the infected area a lot. Allergic dermatitis, scabs, hot spots, and excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin can also mean a flea infestation. Your veterinarian can recommend treatment advice and offer products aimed at keeping the little, black bugs at bat.

Allergic dermatitis, scabs, hot spots, and excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin can also mean a flea infestation. Your veterinarian can recommend treatment advice and offer products aimed at keeping the little, black bugs at bay.

Symptoms of a Dog Ear Infection

An inner ear infection may also cause your dog to do a lot of scratching plus head tipping. Look for fur loss on the outside of the ear and bright red or scabby skin. A good way to tell an ear infection from a skin infection of the outer could be brown, yellow, or bloody discharge and odor coming from the inside of the ear. Bacteria 

Bacteria is the most common cause of ear infections, but other possible culprits include yeasts, fungi, and ear mites, which also increase the likelihood of bacterial infection. Brown or black earwax are classic indicators of microscopic ear mites, but only your veterinarian can tell for sure. Alternate causes include trauma to the body, tumors or polyps in the ear or foreign objects in the ear.

Vet bills for both minor and serious illnesses can add up quickly. Pet insurance is designed to help with vet bills so that cost doesn’t limit care options for your pet. Learn more before you buy.

* Internal Claims Data, Jan-Nov 2015


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