Some Common Dog Ailments

Many times they suffer in silence, unable to give us any clues as to how uncomfortable or how much pain they are in. As pet folk, we have a tendency to take the most effective care of our little companion friends, however some of these troubles can go oblivious to us unless we are tuned in and well aware of them.

You need to be very alert to potential health issues and their risk factors, thus you may be in a position to intervene in the event of an onslaught in any of the following diseases.

Gastric Torsion a.k.a. Bloat

Does your dog chow his food down at a very fast rate? Then he or she could also be in danger of bloat, that is essentially an enlarged abdomen, more difficulty arises if the stomach collectively turns. This intercepts fluid and air from escaping the abdomen, that prevents the dog from belching or throwing up.

Retching and unable to throw up
Enlarged abdomen

Bloat will have an effect on any dog at any age however some breeds are more prone to it- sometimes giant breeds, like Boxers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Weimaraners, Bloodhounds, Retrievers, Mid-size and smaller dogs aren’t in a lot of in danger, with the exception of Dachshunds, and Basset Hounds.
Train your dog to eat slower, I suggest putting the foods inside Kong toys to force the dog dig around for it to squeeze the food out, this may stop him from gulping it down and reduce the danger of bloat. It acts as a stimulant thus your dog subconsciously eats slower.


It’s a part of the core vaccines all puppies ought to be given which means that most dogs shouldn’t truly get this preventable infectious malady that attacks their intestines and heart.

Puppies in breeding facilities or shelters have a higher risk factor of coming into contact with infected dogs. Most dogs contract parvovirus by being exposed to feces of a contaminated dog, either directly or indirectly, or even being spread by the footprints of a shoe.

Severe symptoms including loss of weight, vomiting, and lethargy. survival prospects are diminished, most deaths occur within 48 to 72 hours after first onset if immediate attention is not given.

Puppies with the virus will survive, however survival depends on the severity of the condition, age of the puppy, and swift medical treatment.

Parvo is treated with palliative are, which can be quite expensive.
The first vaccine is usually given at 6 to 8 weeks of age, every 4 weeks after that a follow-up booster shot is given until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old. It should be done again at 1 year old.
It is very important to thoroughly disinfect all areas where the virus might be present, this includes its water bowl,food bowl and toys. Bleach mixed with water has proven to be the most effective in eradicating remnants of the virus.

Lyme disease

This tick-borne disease is another extremely preventable malady. it’s caused by a microorganism transmitted by slow-feeding deer ticks that are connected to the dog for a minimum of eighteen hours. It’s the foremost common of the tick-related diseases.

Some of the visable symptoms are – reduced energy, loss of appetite, swelling of joints, generalized stiffness, pain and discomfort, fever, lameness, can be intermittent, shifting and recurring.
In some instances symptoms can progress to kidney failure, also neurological and cardiac issues can arise.
A blood test called an antibody test can be done which detechs the presence of specific antobodies that are formed in the dogs body in reaction to the bacterium.. A positive result will confirm the dog was exposed to the bacterium.
Other tests such as a PCR or specific DNA test can be performed to check for the presence of the disease causing bacterium. These tests are not 100% accurate as false negatives and false positives can happen.

Treatment is through antibiotics and symptoms can resolve in a number of weeks on other occassions infection can sometimes become persistant and chronic leading to many health issues down the line.

Keeping your dog away from tick-prone areas and checking your dog for attached ticks is a very sensible practice. Pay special attention to the following areas of your dogs body, under the tail, inside the ears, around the eyes, on the feet, and between toes.

Topical medicines which can repel and kill ticks can be placed directly on your dog’s fur, like Frontline and K9 Advantix. There are pills, like NexGard, and even collars your dog can wear. There are also some aplications like natural flea and tick spray which ticks find repulsive.

Renal Failure a.k.a. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease will develop on its own over a dog’slifespan or as a complication from different diseases or medications..

Chronic kidney disease, which developes over your pet’s lifetime is generally not preventable. Dogs with a genetic predisposition to kidney disease are in greater danger.

One cause that is a notable factor in causing chronic kidney disease in your pet and that is Periodontal disease, [an oral bacterial infection] bacteria can leech from the dogs gums, enter the blood and harm important organs, such as the kidneys.

So keep those dentures clean! Brush frequently throughout your dog’s lifetime—meaning a minimum of once a day if possible. Offer it bully sticks or different solid chew toys to get rid of plaque, have your vet perform oral exams and teeth cleaning on a regular basis. This procedure may need anaesthesia but its a very wise practice in the long run. Consider feeding your dog the dental diet.

By the same token, acute kidney disease is preventable to a greater or lesser degree. This is caused by a  variety of issues- infections, complications from medicines and poisoning to name but a few. Symptoms are sudden and severe and may result in  dehydration, vomiting, changes in appetite, changes in water intake, fever, changes in urinating habits

To prevent acute kidney disease, try to keep your dog away from human medications. Other potentially toxic elements like,antifreeze, paints, gasses, chemicals can be too easily accessable to your pet. Licking these off a floor or other surface may be quite palatable to them but very dangerous.

Chocolate Poisoning

We’ve all been there, you are eating your favourite chocolate bar and your furry friend comes over and stares at you excitedly, tail wagging furiously, lips smacking, 2 front paws alternating up and own frantically, the whining begins, the staring becomes more intense, the whining gets a little louder, the head nudging begins
What do you do? To share or not to share?

Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine as well as caffine. Its a chemical used medicinally as a blood vessel dilator, a muscle relaxant, a heart stimulant, and a diuretic. Dogs and cats do not metabolize the same way humans do so as a result are more sensitive to the chemical’s effects. The darker and more bitter the chocolate the more danger it poses.
The biggest culprit would be baking and gourmet chocolate which contains very high concentrations of theobromine.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include diarrhea, pacing, panting, vomiting, excessive urination, muscle tremors. In cases whereby your pet has ingested high qualtities of dark chocolate and is exhibiting signs of irregular heart beat or seizures, don’t hesitate, get it to the vet at once.
Treatment is based on how much and the kind of chocolate it has eaten. Medications to induce vomiting with activated charcoal which block absorption of theobromine may be sufficient in stabiizing and getting your pet back into recovery mode.
So next time your 4 legged companion comes over and goes through that begging routine they have perfected to a fine art and is literally saying in doggie language “ I deserve some of that chocolate just like you do” Be strong and just say no, they will thank you for it someday [or maybe not]

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm in dogs is quite easily preventable but costly and difficult to cure.
Would you rather purchase relatively inexpensive heartworm medication now or have your dog endure painful and expensive treatment later? Unfortunately many choose the latter..

Heartworm is contracted from a single bite of an infected mosquito.
In about a 6 to 7 month timespan from the time your dog is infected the larva will develop into mature heartworms, They can lodge in the lungs, heart and other blood vessels and begin a reproduction cycle.They can live 5 to 7 years and grow as much a 12 inches long. A dogs systen can be overwhelmed with multitudes of them, possibly in the hundreds.
Preventable treatments is usually in the form of pills, topicals and injectable products.

Symptoms, to watch out for in your pet are cough, he/she becomes winded easily, tiredness, excercising less, abnormal lung sounds.
If left untreated and in cases severe enough your dog will pass out from lack of blood to the brain and eventually die.
The treatment for heartworms is an arsenic-based drug called Immiticide. Its administered by 2 or 3 injections that will kill off the adult heartworms in the blood vessels of the heart.

Preventable treatments is usually in the form of pills, topicals and injectable products.

Its advisable to treat your cat in this same way, unfortunately there are no safe treatments available for cats who have already been diagnosed with heartworm disease.

Fungal Diseases


This systemic fungal disease occurs along the Mississippi River Valleys, Great Lakes Region, the Eastern seaboard, parts of Africa, Arabian peninsula and Indian subcontinent. The fungus is associated with moist rotting organic debris, often contaminated by bird droppings. The disease is typically acquired by a dog inhaling infected spores
Symptoms of Blastomycosis: Most cases of acute blastomycosis involve the respiratory system, and cause signs of pneumonia and coughing.Lameness and weight loss can also be common. In about 50% of the cases the eyes and skin can be affected, this can result in the developement of nodules where pus can drain from.
Treatment Options: Treatment options for blastomycosis include  Itraconazole, Fluconazole and Ketoconzole. In cases whereby a treatment plan is commenced early in the course of infection the over all prognosis toward symptom reduction is good.


Aspergillosis is very common environmental fungal mold called aspergillus. A compromised immune system in your dog brought on by some diseases, stresses or drug therapies can act as a trigger point in your pet contracting this fungal infection. At the localised nasal form of this malady, aspergillosis can be transmitted via direct contact with the fungus by means of the sinuses and nose. A more advanced version of the disease which can affect other organs can occur, as of yet its unknown as to how transmittion takes place.
Symptoms of Aspergillosis: Symptoms of nasal aspergillosis might involve nasal pain, sneezing,bleeding from the nose, swollen nose, decrease in appetite, and chronic nasal discharge. In the more diffused form of the disease, signs and symptoms could develop gradually over several months and may exhibit in vomiting, lameness, fever, loss of weight, spinal pains and loss in appetite.
Treatment Options:  Just like in Blastomycosis, Aspergillosis is usually treated with the antifungal drugs namely – Itraconazole, Fluconazole and Ketoconazole. These are applied directly into the nose. The more advanced form of the disease poses a different challenge however and a cure is generally not attainable.


The fungal disease histoplasmosis is found in the North and Central America, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia Areas which are rich in nitrogen soil that promote the causative agent Histoplasma capsulatum to thrive are most affected. Spores are carried in soil contaminated by the feces of chickens, Bats, and other birds. Spores can be airbourne then breathed in by our animals to cause visable symptoms of disease. Humans are likewise prone to the fungus.
Symptoms of Histoplasmosis  For the most part, histoplasmosis causes minimal clinical signs, periodically resulting in a mild respiratory infection. There is a more serious acute intestinal version of this disease that affects the colon and small intestine. Some symptoms are severe diarrhea and weight loss. A disseminated form may develope wherein vomiting, coughing, fever, muscle atrophy weight loss,and enlargement of the tonsils can occur. Even other organs can be affected such as skin, eyes,spleen and brain.
Treatment Options:  See above antifungals plus the drug called Amphteracin can be added to the treatment protocol.


This can be found mostly in dry, dusty parts of the southwestern United States (including California) parts of Mexico and Central and South America. Generally recognised as the most dangerous and life threatening amongst all the systemic fungal diseases in dogs. Also known as Valley Fever, inhalation of environmental spores will cause the infection to set in.
Symptoms of Coccidiomycosis There will be few clinical signs, but in the case of an acute outbreak the infection will involve the respiratory system with an onset of severe pneumonia.If the disease becomes systemic, it may affect your dog’s skin, lymph nodes, brain, spleen liver,and bones. What to watch out for- lameness, fever, persistant cough, and weight loss.
Treatment Options:  As in above antifungals , long term treatment plans are advised and many times required as recurrence and relapses do often occur.


A yeast like fungus known formally as Cryptococcus neoformans. It is contracted through inhalation of spores contaminated by bird feces. Dogs who have acquired cryptococcus will have involvement in the skin,lymph nodes eyes and brain and nervous system in general.
Symptoms of Cryptococcus:  Respiratory discomfort, nasal discharge, brain involvements which may manifest itself in such behavious as pacing, circling, seizures, blindless, wobbly gait, head pressing against the wall or hard surface and dementia. Eyes can become swollen, even blindness can set in, nodules can form in the head and blister and leave a raw discharge.
Treatment Options:  Antifungal drugs are given but the long term outlook is deficient at best. If administered in the early stages of disease the drugs are somewhat successful but relapses are quite common.

How can I prevent or at least reduce the chances of fungal diseases occuring.

Bathe your pet properly and regularly [especially after a swim] the use of anti-fungal shampoos which contain tea tree ,neem or coconut oil are an excellent choice.
Witch hazel applied to a common swab to clean out your dog or cat’s ears is a very wise practice also.

In Conclusion

We all want only the best for our companion pets and their time spent with us is short in relative terms. Its well known that their health, well being and lifespan can come down to breed and genetics. But the other factor playing a part is how aware, guarded and responsive we as pet parents are before,during and after they can potentially be struck down with any of the above mentioned ailments.
Our pets are curious and mischievious creatures by nature, they love to lick,chew or snort anything which may be in some way appealing or attractive to then.They do not know that licking or inhaling some toxic substances can be hazardous and life threatening. They will happily and gleefully rummage through your cupboard just to lick a surface with a spillage of your favourite cleaning agent.There are a host of dangers lurking all within and close proximity to the household so your due care and vigilance are paramount.
Get the pets routine veterinary check-ups done, if your child was sick and you were concerned, you would consult your doctor, adapt that same approach when it applies to your pet.You want your previous pet to be around as long as is possible, give it the best possible chance.
Non of the above maladies are 100% preventable,nevertheless with adequate knowledge,proper care, good reaction time the effects and potential harm caused can be reduced dramatically in their severity.

Has your cherished pet ever suffered from any of the above? How did you respond? what was the outcome?
Leave your comments, I’d love to find out more!



  1. You have wrote an amazing post on caring for your pet, so many pet owners can learn so much from just this one post on pet care. The tips are awesome tips to help pet owners manage their pets healthcare, I can relate to dogs who eat too fast my dog has done this ever since a pup. I read it is in his breed to eat like it is his last meal, I have solved my pets problem by feeding him more often but giving him less food which has slowed down his eating problems.

  2. Hello Jeff,
    Thank you for visiting my site,
    yes, one thing most dogs don’t possess is patience when it comes to eating, they will generally devour almost anything left in front of them in double quick time. I’m glad you’ve found a solution for your own doggie.
    I’m curious as to what breed it is?


  3. Hi Oliver,
    Wow! I want to thank you for all this very valuable information for pet parents.
    You have written about many topics here to give us tips and info on what to look for and how to handle certain situations/issues that may arise with our dogs.
    I remember when I had my Shepherd/Lab, years ago, and how frightening it was for me when I saw blood dripping from his rectum. He had contracted Parvovirus. The vet, at the time, said he did not need another set of vaccinations but that was not the case. I had taken him to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan. My 8-month-old pup stayed there for more than a week (and the cost then was close to $1,500.) I was just so happy he lived because the local vet said he could not help him.
    The video about the dog with bloat was upsetting to me, but I am so grateful that you’ve provided this info, in case (hopefully not!) this ever occurred.

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