Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms & Treatments

Early intervention and treatment are crucial if your canine companion falls ill. Here, our veterinarians in Novato share three of the most commonly seen illnesses in dogs, including symptoms and information about potential treatment options.

Dog Illnesses & Their Symptoms

If you have a dog, it's important to monitor their health and take them to the vet if needed. Here, we share three of the most common dog illnesses as well as a symptom checker to reference:

Cancer in Dogs

Current medical advances are allowing dogs to live longer, healthier lives. However, because they are living longer, they are more likely to get sick with things like cancer at some point in their lives.

Causes & Symptoms

As dogs age, they may be affected by various types of cancer such as skin, bone, breast, lymphoma, and soft tissue sarcomas. Certain breeds are more prone to developing cancer due to their genetic makeup, while environmental factors can also play a role. It can be difficult to detect cancer, especially in the early stages when symptoms may not be as obvious.

If symptoms do begin to appear, some of the most common ones may include:

  • Lumps or bumps
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Wounds that don't heal
  • Lameness or swelling in bones or other parts of the body

Treatment Options for Cancer

One of the most common treatment options for most types of cancer is the surgical removal of the tumor(s). Some treatments can help cure the disease or extend your dog's life, and your dog may need additional care to manage pain and discomfort. This can include things like hot and cold packs, acupuncture, or medications that are applied to the skin. It's important to catch cancer early, so taking your dog to the vet for regular check-ups can help identify any issues before they become serious and potentially life-threatening.

Ear Infections in Dogs

Since the shape of your dog's ear canals can be more susceptible to ear infections than a human would be. if your pup spends lots of time in the water or has floppy ears these health problems can become recurring and common. Moisture may become trapped in their ears and create an ideal environment for bacterial ear infections to develop in your dog.

Causes & Symptoms

If your dog is experiencing an ear infection, you may notice excessive itching and/or head shaking. A vet can examine your dog to determine the cause of the infection which could be due to moisture in the ears, allergies, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, or other reasons.

In addition to the signs mentioned above, symptoms include:

  • Swelling or redness in the ear canal
  • Dark discharge
  • Pain
  • Odor
  • Itchiness
  • "Crustiness" or scabs

Treatment Options for Ear Infections

If your dog's ear is infected, the vet will clean it with special medicine and give you antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication to cure the infection. They might also prescribe a cream to apply at home. The infection will clear up if caught early in a week or two. But, if it's serious or due to a health condition, it might take longer to heal. In some cases, chronic or repeated ear infections may occur.

Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain and in severe cases facial paralysis.

Parvovirus in Dogs

Parvo is considered a disease of the stomach and small intestines. It is here that the virus begins destroying the dog's gut barrier by attacking healthy cells and blocking the absorption of essential nutrients.

In puppies, parvo also attacks the bone marrow and lymphopoietic tissues which play essential roles in your dog's immune system, and eventually, the virus will often affect the heart.

Causes & Symptoms

Parvovirus (also called parvo) is a highly contagious virus that causes extreme gastrointestinal symptoms in puppies and unvaccinated dogs of all ages. The virus is transmitted through traces of feces from dogs that are infected, even dogs that are asymptomatic and aren't exhibiting any symptoms can spread Parvo just as easily as dogs that have symptoms or have recently recovered from it.

Parvo is so infectious that humans can spread it unknowingly to other dogs if they have recently come into contact with an infected pup, just by touching them. This means an innocent pat on the head could result in a life-threatening condition. Other common causes of contamination include sharing toys, bowls, bedding, and leashes.

Some of the main symptoms of parvovirus in dogs include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (usually bloody)
  • Fever
  • Weakness

Treatment Options for Parvovirus

To avoid parvovirus in dogs, it is best to prevent it by giving them puppy vaccines and booster shots. Parvovirus can cause serious health problems such as bone marrow damage, bacterial pneumonia, chronic heart disease, and even sudden death. While there is no cure, your vet can provide supportive treatments to alleviate symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is crucial to ensure your dog stays hydrated and well-nourished during recovery.

Since parvovirus weakens the immune system, your vet will monitor your dog's condition and may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

Steps to Take if Your Dog is Showing Signs of Illness

If you notice any signs of the three illnesses mentioned in your dog, it's essential to take them to a vet immediately. At Bel Marin Animal Hospital, we provide comprehensive services and advanced diagnostics to treat your dog's most difficult health problems effectively.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you seeing symptoms related to illness in your dog? Our veterinarians at Bel Marin Animal Hospital are experienced in diagnosing and treating a range of health conditions in pets. Contact our vets today.

New Patients Welcome

Bel Marin Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Novato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

(415) 883-0578 Contact