Protect Your Pets: An Overview of the Most Common Dog Diseases

Similar to humans, our dogs can suffer from various health problems, which may require vet specialists, such as an internist (see here for more info). As a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the most common dog diseases and how to treat them. Whether your pup is dealing with a minor issue like allergies or a more serious condition like cancer, you can take steps to help them feel better.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common dog diseases and how to treat them:

1. Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus-causing disease that attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. Puppies are especially vulnerable to this disease, so it’s essential to get them vaccinated early, starting at 6-8 weeks old. If your dog becomes infected, they need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Treatment involves a combination of antibiotics, IV fluids, and other supportive care. If caught early, the survival rate for dogs with parvovirus is relatively high. The disease is deadly if you don’t bring them to a vet.

2. Canine Distemper

This is caused by a virus that attacks a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. It’s most commonly seen in puppies and young dogs who haven’t been vaccinated.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

There is no specific treatment for distemper, but dogs with mild symptoms may recover with supportive care at home. Dogs with more severe symptoms will need to be hospitalized for intensive care. The prognosis for canine distemper is poor, and many dogs die from the disease.

Prevention is the best protection for your dog from distemper. Their vaccinations should be updated, and avoid contact with other dogs that may be infected.

3. Canine Parainfluenza

It is a highly contagious respiratory virus-causing illness that leads to kennel cough – a condition that can make it difficult for dogs to breathe. It’s often seen in crowded places like shelters and dog boarding facilities, where dogs are in close contact with each other.

Symptoms of kennel cough include:

  • A dry, hacking cough
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite

If your pet has kennel cough, they will likely need antibiotics to clear the infection. They may also need to be hospitalized for supportive care in severe cases. Fortunately, most dogs recover from kennel cough within a few weeks.

Updated vaccinations and avoiding places where they may be exposed to the virus are the best ways to prevent kennel cough.

4. Leptospirosis

This bacterial infection can be transmitted to dogs through contact with contaminated water or soil. The bacteria can enter a dog’s body through their mucous membranes or broken skin. Once inside, they multiply and damage the liver, kidneys, and other organs.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice

Immediately bring your dog to a reputable animal facility if they show signs of leptospirosis. Vets can treat this disease with antibiotics, but it can be fatal if left untreated.

Like other diseases, prevention is the best way to protect your dog from leptospirosis. Ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and avoid contact with contaminated water or soil.

5. Parasite Infections

There are various parasites that can infect dogs, including fleas, ticks, and heartworms. These parasites can cause a number of problems for dogs, ranging from skin irritation to organ damage.

Most parasite infections can be prevented with the regular use of preventative medications, such as monthly heartworm pills or monthly flea and tick treatments. If your dog is infected with parasites, your veterinarian will recommend the best course of treatment, such as:

  • Topical medications
  • Oral medications
  • Injectable medications

If left untreated, parasite infections can be fatal, so make sure your dog is on regular preventative medication and see a veterinarian if they show any signs of being infected.

Look for these common signs that your dog may have a parasite infection:

  • Intense scratching or biting at the skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy


Many diseases can affect dogs, ranging from mild to fatal. The best way to protect your dog from these diseases is to ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Ultimately, see a reputable animal facility, such as, if they show any signs of illness.