Dogs are subject to contracting many serious diseases. Rabies, Distemper, Heartworm, Bloat and Parvovirus are among the more serious dog ailments. Proper vaccinations, regular veterinary visits and a knowledge and familiarity of one's dog breed are among the essential keys to maintaining your pet's health.
Rabies is a viral disease contracted from other rabid animals. This virus attacks the dog’s central nervous system and is spread via the saliva. As the disease progresses, various symptoms start to appear. At first, the dog will display minor behavior changes, fever and slow eye reflexes. The next stage usually will show more aggressive and violent behavior, excessive barking, irritability, and restlessness. The last or advanced stage will show a breakdown in the coordination of motor movements. No cure is currently available, although a vaccine for both humans and canines does exist. Dogs with this disease need to be euthanized.
Distemper is another canine affliction with no cure. Considered to be one of the most serious conditions that dogs encounter, it is contracted through the contaminated feces of other infected dogs. Adult dogs that contract this disease have a fifty percent chance of survival, while puppies have close to a seventy-five to eighty percent fatality rate. Symptoms include diarrhea, chest congestion, eye and nose discharges and coughing. As the disease progresses it attacks the dog’s central nervous system, leading to paralysis and possible death.
Heartworm is a parasitic disease that is contracted through mosquitoes. It is a parasite that multiplies and grows in rapidly dividing cells. For this reason it tends to affect puppies, more than adult dogs. It ultimately will cause infections in the dogs’ heart chambers and arteries in their lungs. Symptoms start as a mild cough with fatigue, and if untreated, could worsen to congestive heart failure. All puppies should be vaccinated against this parasite to prevent infection.
Bloat is a serious canine condition that involves the twisting of a dog’s stomach from overeating. This serious condition is a common cause for dog death. The twisted stomach not only cuts off its own blood supply causing quick tissue necrosis, but also traps gas causing tremendous pain, with a relatively quick death. As a result, this condition needs to be treated quickly. Symptoms include restlessness, depression and dry heaves. The canines that have the greatest risk of bloat are older dogs, thin or underweight dogs, and dogs with an aggressive or anxious temperament. Also dogs that eat rapidly or have only one meal a day are susceptible to developing bloat.
Considered a deadly disease, parvovirus attacks a dog’s intestines. Symptoms include decreased appetite, severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting and depression. The symptoms can appear rapidly within a few hours of infestation. Death could occur within a few days. Parvovirus is contracted through contaminated fecal matter that is on the ground. The virus can live in this state up to several months under favorable conditions. Parvovirus
can be prevented if dogs are vaccinated prior to infection. If contracted, most dogs need to be aggressively treated with IV antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids; otherwise they will die from dehydration.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of the joints begin to wear away. This does not cause any pain to the dog. Eventually, the bone wears away. This will cause pain to the dog because the bone marrow contains nerves while the cartilage does not and therefore most dogs will not show any signs until it has progressed into wearing away of the bones. Dogs that have suffered from hip dysplasia or luxating patella (abnormal knee cap movement,) are at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. This condition can be treated medically or surgically, depending on the severity of the issue as well as the age of the dog.
Hip dysplasia is a common disease in which the hip joints have deteriorated or have grown in abnormally, depending on the dog. For example, olde
will suffer from deterioration which causes hip dysplasia, while younger dogs may have hip joints that have grown abnormally. Dogs who are suffering from hip dysplasia often have an altered walk or run which will become especially noticeable after exercise
. Some dogs will also hop as if they were a bunny. Most dogs develop this condition later in life and owners attribute it to old age and the natural way of life; however, if treated, the dog can return to his normal life without any of the symptoms often associated with growing older.
Kidney disease can occur because of age, genetics, cancer, autoimmune diseases, trauma to the kidney or because of viral infections, bacterial infections and fungal infections. Common signs of kidney disease include an increase or decreased amount of urination or a total lack of urination all together, blood in the urine, a lack of appetite accompanied by vomiting and weight loss. Some dogs may also suffer from diarrhea. Depending on the cause of kidney disease, it may be treated through medications to fight infections or inflammations. In some dogs, kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
Also known as Cushing's Disease, hyperadrenocorticism occurs when either the adrenal gland malfunctions and begins producing excessive amounts of hormones or when the pituitary gland produces too much of the hormone which stimulates the adrenal gland. This disease often occurs in middle-aged to senior dogs and will display symptoms such as an enlarged abdomen, an increase in appetite, increased urination and water intake, as well as hair loss and thinning of the skin.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland malfunctions or is destroyed and no longer releases the correct amount of hormones. More than 95 percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to the dog's own immune system attacking the thyroids and essentially slowly killing the organs. Dogs who are suffering from hypothyroidism will often gain weight, lose hair and suffer from a variety of skin problems . Fortunately, with proper medications any dog can return to their normal, healthy self and live a long, happy life.