The symptoms your dog is experiencing could be signs of a serious illness such as parvovirus or leptospirosis. Today our Thornton vets explain the basics about parvo, lepto and 4 other dog illnesses that can be serious but are surprisingly common.
What do my dog's symptoms mean?
Is your dog lethargic, coughing or scratching more than usual? These symptoms are quite common, but they can be signs of a disease or infection. Below our Thornton vets will walk you through five serious, but common, illnesses, and what you should do if your pet is experiencing them.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious, extremely serious viral disease that can threaten your dog's life. Common symptoms include severe vomiting, lethargy, dehydration and a lack of appetite, and bloody diarrhea.
This illness can spread to any animal, person or even object that touches an infected dog's feces. The most important step in prevention is to make sure your dog is vaccinated for parvovirus.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, you will need to contact your vet immediately. Parvovirus can be fatal.
2. Leptospirosis (Lepto)
Leptospirosis is caused by the spirochete bacteria and is carried by wildlife such as rats, skunks, and raccoons, as well as domestic livestock throughout the world. The bacteria is spread through animal urine and is often found in standing water, damp mud and puddles.
Dogs often contract leptospirosis after drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.
Vaccinating your dog against lepto, and preventing your pooch from drinking from puddles and ponds can help to guard your pet against this disease. Vaccinated pets are at lower risk of developing severe symptoms of the disease which can include lethargy, poor appetite, fever, vomiting, increased thirst or urine production. Jaundice may also be seen and poor kidney function.
Leptospirosis vaccines are considered lifestyle vaccines for dogs. Speak to your vet about your pet's risk of exposure and whether vaccination is a good idea for your pup.
If your pet is displaying any symptoms of leptospirosis contact your vet right away. Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat Leptospirosis in dogs and prevent your pup from becoming a carrier of the organism.
Diabetes is as complex for your dog as it is for humans. The exact cause is unknown and there are a variety of symptoms, including lethargy and dehydration.
Type I diabetes is considered the most common form for dogs and requires your pet to undergo insulin therapy to survive.
Luckily, this illness is considered to be a manageable disorder once diagnosed — but untreated, diabetes can lead to additional health problems, like cataracts, coma and even death.
If you suspect diabetes in your dog, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis.
Unlike heartworm, ringworm isn't caused by a worm or another parasite — it's a fungus, and it's highly contagious.
This illness can cause skin lesions or patchy bald spots, but a dog can also carry the fungus without showing any symptoms whatsoever.
Ringworm can spread quickly to other animals and even infect humans. Bring your pet in to see the vet if they are showing any of these symptoms.
5. Ear Infections
A common health problem for dogs, ear infections can be caused by everything from allergies to ear mites and bacteria. Typical symptoms can include repeated scratching, ear odor and a lack of balance.
While in most cases, your vet will be able to quickly clear up the infection through cleaning and medication, serious chronic infections can ultimately require surgery. One of the most common symptoms — head shaking — can also be so forceful that it can rupture vessels within the ear.
If your dog is shaking their head more frequently or violently than normal, you should make an appointment for a check-up. Your vet will be able to determine if treatment is necessary.
6. Kennel Cough
Similar to a chest cold in humans, this disease occurs when respiratory infections cause inflammation to your dog's windpipe and voice box. Dogs with kennel cough will have a dry, hacking cough that can sometimes bring up a foamy phlegm or nasal discharge.
Kennel cough often clears up on its own, but is another illness that is very contagious for other dogs. If you think your pet has kennel cough, you should immediately isolate him or her from other dogs and call your vet.