What Are The Top Ten Dog Diseases?

Dog Diseases number in the scores, just as in humans. But, veterinarians tend to see some much more than others. Sadly, a great deal of grief could be avoided if more dog owners were careful to see that their pets are immunized regularly against preventable dog diseases.

While experts, as usual, may differ, what are the top ten dog diseases? Here's a list (not necessarily in order of seriousness) with a brief explanation of each disease:


Of all the dog diseases, the American Veterinary Medical Association considers the distemper virus to be the worst canine disease threat to dogs world wide. Distemper is fatal in 80% of puppies and 50% of adults. All dogs are extremely vulnerable, and should be vaccinated, with subsequent boosters in keeping the recommendation of a Veterinarian.

Parvovirus (Parvo):

Parvovirus is a worldwide dog disease. It is extremely contagious, especially among puppies, and can overwhelm a dog leading to death within 48 to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and severe diarrhea. Parvo vaccination is essential with booster shots as recommended.


Rabies is a virus and becomes fatal when symptoms appear. Because rabies can be fatal to humans and other mammals, state and local laws uniformly require rabies vaccination, many mandating booster shots yearly.

Kennel Cough:

This is a respiratory disease especially prevalent in kennels and shelters. There are a variety of virus strains, including Bortadella. Symptoms can include a dry hacking cough along with inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes and trachea. Vaccination, as often as every six months is recommended.


Symptoms of Leptospirosis include lethargy, kidney inflammation, low-grade fever, vomiting, reddening of the mucous membranes and conjunctiva, and blood clotting abnormalities. Since it is a bacterial disease, also found in humans, it is treated with antibiotics. Veterinarians are often reluctant to innoculate against this dog disease, since there is questionable effectiveness, and puppies can have adverse reactions.

Infectious canine hepatitis:

While this dog disease often manifests itself with mild symptoms such as a slight fever or slight lethargy, it can, in some instances become fatal. Recovery is usually rapid. Vaccination is recommended.

Lyme Disease:

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs will include lethargy, joint pain, lack of appetite, lymph node enlargement, and fever. Lyme Disease is bacterial and is spread by ticks. Treatment is with tetracycline, an antibiotic. The available vaccine is not generally recommended.


Diarrhea and vomiting are symptomatic of this dog disease so it can be confused with parvovirus. Other indications are loss of appetite, smelly diarrhea, lethargy and dehydration. Replacement of lost fluids and control of vomiting and diarrhea are the recommended treatments. A vaccine is not generally recommended.


Just as in humans, this dog disease is a serious medical problem. Frequently, obese humans own obese dogs. Obviously, limiting food intake, withholding human food and enough exercise will contribute to a dogs longer life.


Heartworms are parasites that grow and multiply, infesting the chambers in the heart, arteries in the lungs. Symptoms appear gradually, usually manifested in easy tiring, lethargy and a soft cough. If not treated, it eventually brings on death by congestive heart failure in a once active animal. Prevention with products such as HartGard is recommended.

Your veterinarian should give you a certificate showing your pet's immunization against the common dog diseases. Ask for a wallet sized card which you can carry with you.
Robert G. Knechtel maintains several websites, including PetMedShop.Com, and Go60.Com.
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