The Top 11 Common Dog Diseases

Common Dog Diseases

Like humans, dogs experience health issues. Part of being a responsible pet parent is learning about the most common dog diseases and dog health problems. As they say, knowledge is power! Dogs are susceptible to many diseases transmitted by contact with infected dogs or wildlife. Get familiar with these dog health issues to become the best pet parent possible. Here are the common dog illnesses and clinical signs:

List of The Top 11 Common Dog Diseases

Dental Disease

Dogs Dental Disease

Some of the most common diseases in dogs that are typically identified after the age of three are oral infections like gingivitis and tartar buildup. A more severe version of this might be dental diseases such as abscesses. Some things to look out for in this category are difficulty with or avoidance of hard food, bad breath, discolored teeth or gums, loose teeth, lumps on the gums or under the tongue. Staying on top of your dog’s oral care can help prevent situations like this from occurring. Regular vet visits for teeth cleaning can help prevent dental disease. Sometimes dog grooming organizations will also include teeth cleaning in their regular packages.  

While pets don't get biannual dental checkups like humans, your vet is trained to deal with dog dentistry. That's why you might notice your vet do a full body exam, including lifting the pet's lips and examining the teeth, gums, tongue and areas inside the mouth. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, over 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have active dental disease. Some common dental ailments to watch out for:

  • Fractured Teeth: The most common dental issue in dogs is fractured teeth from chewing hard objects.
  • Periodontal Disease: This is an infection and inflammation of the tissues around the teeth. Often, clinical signs show that there's tartar accumulation visible on the teeth, too. If left untreated, periodontal disease can spread from the teeth and down into the bone, causing tooth loss.

To prevent dental disease, it's going to require a little work on your part. That means removing plaque and tartar buildup with daily brushing using canine-formula toothpaste. Your veterinarian will likely recommend routine dental cleanings (scaling and polishing, which occur under anesthesia). Refer to the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) website for lists of accepted dog foods, treats, chews, toothpaste and other products.


A cough is a sudden expulsion of air through the large breathing passages which can help clear them of fluids, irritants, foreign particles and microbes. Two of the most common breathing problems affecting dogs are asthma and kennel cough.

1. Canine Asthma

Canine asthma issues can range from mild to life-threatening and cause a persistent cough, heavy panting, wheezing, low energy and loss of appetite. It can be an ongoing chronic condition for dogs infected that requires anti-inflammatory medications, including steroid pills and breathing treatments (much like how humans use inhalers). Some pet owners will need to reduce their pets' exposure to cigarette smoke, molds, household cleaning products, pollen and other asthma triggers.

2. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, on the other hand, develops by exposure to viruses and bacteria and is contagious, spreading from one dog to another (often at kennels, per the name of the illness). A vaccine is available to help prevent one cause of kennel cough and the drippy nose and dry hacking cough it produces.

Dog Skin and Coat Problems

Dog skin and coat problems are prevalent health issues that every pet owner should be aware of to ensure the well-being of their furry friends. Skin problems in dogs can manifest in various ways, including itching, redness, flakiness and hot spots. Allergies, parasites and underlying health conditions can contribute to these issues. Additionally, a dull or dry coat may indicate nutritional deficiencies or hormonal imbalances.

  • Ringworm: This skin infection can pass between humans and dogs. Ringworm is actually a fungus that triggers scaly/bumpy skin patches and broken hairs in the dog's coat.
  • Sarcoptic mange: Also known as scabies, this common skin and coat issue passes from one dog to another. It can also pass from people to dogs and vice versa. Tiny parasites known as mites cause the pet to itch, lose fur and have open skin wounds. It is a very serious infectious disease.
  • Demodectic mange: More often known as Demodex, this dog skin issue isn't contagious and is much more common than sarcoptic mange.

Regular grooming, a balanced diet and preventive measures (such as flea and tick control) can help maintain a healthy skin and coat for your dog. Being vigilant about changes in your dog's skin and coat condition, consulting with a veterinarian and addressing problems promptly can help prevent more severe issues and contribute to your pet's overall health and happiness.

Our Recommendation: THE SENSITIVE ONE Shampoo by PRIDE+GROOM

There’s always one in the bunch, and for your sensitive one, something a little more calming might be in order. THE SENSITIVE ONE is formulated with ingredients aimed to soothe and regulate the skin and follicles of these gentler souls so they can get to the business of dogging in comfort and peace.

If your infected dog is shaking their head or scratching their ears, it's time to take action for their itchy skin. The vet clinic will take a swab sample of ear debris and examine it under a microscope to determine what's causing the ear issues. Dogs are susceptible to both bacterial and yeast infections in the ears, as well as parasitic mites, which are less common. All of these require medication from the vet to heal.

Being aware of your dog's daily habits can help improve ear and eye health. For example, if your dog loves to swim, dry out the ears after a dip in the water to reduce moisture buildup and possible future issues and prevent ear infections. If your dog is a hunter and runs through tall grasses each weekend, consider investing in dog goggles to avoid potential eyeball scratches. When it comes to dog eyes, if you notice squinting or discharge, your pet may be experiencing an infection, cataracts, a scratch on the eye, conjunctivitis, dry eye or glaucoma. A veterinary eye exam can help determine what's bothering your pet. Never ignore goopy eyes or ears in any dog breeds!


Arthritis is a term often used to mean any disorder that affects joints. Most common in adult dogs, symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the affected joints. In some types of arthritis, other organs are also affected.

As dogs age sometimes, they present with arthritis and joint pain especially if combined with weight gain that is not healthy for their size. Some other potential causes of stiffness and pain in joints can be overexertion, bacterial encephalitis, or parasitic infestations. A few potential indicators of inflammation and stiffness are awkward gaits, reluctance to rise, rigidity of limbs, swelling, muscle spasms, depression, or noticeable fatigue. Treatment depends on the conditions identified by your veterinary provider.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs. These are called “canine influenza viruses.” No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. There are two different influenza A dog flu viruses: one is an H3N8 virus and the other is an H3N2 virus. Canine influenza A(H3N2) viruses are different from seasonal influenza A(H3N2) viruses that spread annually in people.

Canine influenza can cause coughing, fever and a congested nose—similar symptoms to kennel cough. It's spread through respiratory secretions or contaminated objects and may cause respiratory infections. While there's a vaccine, it's only recommended for at-risk dogs.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is one of the most dangerous puppy viruses, and it primarily attacks the gastrointestinal system. It's highly contagious and often fatal. It can cause fever, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The vaccine for parvovirus is part of the core puppy vaccination series. Canine parvovirus infection is a highly contagious disease caused by canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2). There are several strains of CPV-2, and all produce similar signs. The disease they cause is commonly called “parvo.”

The virus attacks white blood cells and the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and other canids like coyotes, wolves, and foxes. In puppies, the virus also can damage the heart muscle. All dogs are susceptible to canine parvovirus, although some dogs are at higher risk than others. These include puppies between 6 and 20 weeks of age, unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated dogs, and certain breeds, such as the following:

  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman pinschers
  • Bull terrier breeds
  • German shepherds
  • English springer spaniels

Giardia and Coccidia

Giardia and coccidia are single-celled parasites your dog might get by licking contaminated fur or soil, or drinking contaminated water. Both can damage the intestinal lining and reduce how well your puppy absorbs nutrients. Symptoms may be mild and can include diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration or weakness. Infected puppies might be given a three- to 10-day course of medicine to kill the parasite.

Flea and Tick Diseases

Flea and Tick Diseases in Dogs

Fleas and ticks are common in some geographical areas, so it's important to use a flea and tick preventive recommended by your veterinarian. Once fleas have infested your home, they're tougher to get rid of. Sensitive puppies may excessively scratch, lick and bite at their skin, resulting in bald spots or scaling. If your puppy has fleas, your veterinarian may prescribe a medicine to kill the fleas on the body.

But you'll also need to wash your bedding and your pet's bedding, vacuum floors and upholstery and use pet-safe flea treatments in your home and yard. Ticks can cause a host of problems in puppies, including diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and more. These can also spread to humans, so it's important to keep ticks off your puppies.


Weight management in dogs can be a tricky topic because many dog owners have difficulty identifying when their pet is overweight. That is why this health issue can be one of the most overlooked dangers to pet longevity. This is often because obesity can come with a wide range of health problems such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, liver disease, low thyroid hormone production, diabetes, and cancer.

Obesity and excess fat on a dog's body shortens a dog’s life and makes them more likely to develop disease. It was always accepted that heavy dogs had a shorter lifespan than lean dogs, usually by 6-12 months. But a large, lifetime study of Labrador retrievers found that being even moderately overweight can reduce a dog's life expectancy by nearly two years compared to their leaner counterparts. This is a sobering statistic.

To learn more about how to assess if your dog might be overweight you can consult the American Kennel Club’s article Obesity in Dogs: A Major Health Threat Hiding in Plain Sight.


The title of this illness, unfortunately, does in fact describe a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and arteries of infected animals. Heartworm is an illness transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes. Screening for heartworm should be done on an annual basis through blood testing. Quite disturbingly these parasites travel through the bloodstream, damaging arteries and organs, and typically spreading after six months all the way to the heart and lungs. Symptoms can be weight loss, fatigue, labored breathing, coughing, vomiting, or no symptoms at all. However, this condition, thankfully, is easily preventable with inexpensive medication, but if left untreated can be fatal.


Approximately 1 in 4 dogs will, at some stage in their life, develop neoplasia. Almost half of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while there is less information about the rate of cancer in cats. Some cancers, such as lymphoma, are more common in cats than in dogs. Pets today have a better chance of being successfully treated for neoplasia and cancer than they did before, thanks to advances in early recognition, diagnosis and treatment.

Neoplasia is the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells or tissues in the body, and the abnormal growth itself is called a neoplasm or tumor. It can be benign or malignant. Benign neoplasms tend to grow slowly; displace, but do not tend to invade, the surrounding body tissues; and do not spread throughout the body. Malignant neoplasms, on the other hand, can be unpredictable and grow at various rates (sometimes rapidly), invade the tissues around them, and spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.

The word “tumor” or “mass” is often used to describe the actual swelling or other physical appearance of a neoplasm. The word “cancer” is often confused with neoplasia, but only malignant neoplasms are truly cancers.


The best way to keep your canine companion happy and healthy is through awareness. Common illnesses, bacterial infections, gastrointestinal diseases and even fungal infections can be treated. Recognizing common dog health problems is part of being a pet parent. Visiting your veterinarian for annual checkups and when you notice changes in your pet's physical or mental health ensures the well-being of your furry companion.