The 26 biggest health conditions that plague dogs
Your dog is part of the family. He's always happy to see you, loves you unconditionally and serves as a loyal companion. As a dog owner, you want to do everything in your power to keep your furry friend happy and healthy for many years to come.
Just as with humans, dogs can be impacted by countless health conditions, but some are much more common than others. Many of these issues are hereditary, but others are largely preventable if you know the warning signs and take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms. Making sure your pooch has a checkup at least once a year — even when he seems in perfect health — can also help detect issues early, when they're easier to treat.
It can be hard to know when your dog is injured or under the weather, since he can't easily tell you how he's feeling. At PetBreeds we know you would do anything for your best friend, so we put together a list of the most common health issues dogs face. Keep reading to learn more about different types of conditions your dog could develop, so you'll recognize the symptoms and seek assistance right away. We identified the breeds these conditions often affect, as well.
This condition occurs when the dog's eyelashes grow in the wrong direction, causing him to suffer pain, irritation and possibly even an eye injury. Symptoms of trichiasis can include squinting, blinking and a red, inflamed eye.
#25. Pyotraumatic Dermatitis
Pyotraumatic dermatitis occurs when a dog scratches his skin so excessively that it causes ulcers to develop, leading to a bacterial infection.
Long-haired breeds are often plagued by this condition during the warm-weather months, but it can be prevented by keeping fur short when the temperatures rise and regularly treating your dog for ticks and fleas.
This eye disease is the result of a blocked drainage system that causes fluid to accumulate inside the eyeball, which can eventually damage the optic nerve.
Glaucoma doesn't have many symptoms, but it can lead to decreased vision and blindness, so take your dog to the veterinarian if you suspect she has this condition.
#23. Stenotic Nares
Stenotic nares is a congenital disorder that commonly plagues short-headed breeds, causing the nostrils to be too narrow. Symptoms include breathing problems and snoring.
#22. Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)
This condition is characterized by faulty tear glands that cause the dog to suffer dry and irritated eyes. If you think your dog has keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), make an appointment to see the veterinarian, as it can permanently impair her vision and even result in blindness.
#21. Skin Problems
If your dog is plagued by persistent itching that causes an erosion of the skin, has lesions on the body or you've noticed a change in his coat, he might have a skin condition. A veterinarian will examine his skin and assess symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Dogs with osteosarcoma have an aggressive bone tumor — typically in the knee, shoulder or wrist. Signs of this type of cancer can include decreased appetite, sluggishness, weight loss, and pain, swelling, and lameness of the leg.
#19. Intervertebral Disc Disease
Intervertebral disc disease occurs when the intervertebral discs — situated between the bones of the spine — degenerate. This condition typically impacts older dogs, but small dogs with achondroplasia can exhibit symptoms starting as young as age two.
Warning signs include sensitivity when you touch her back and a hesitancy to climb stairs or go for long walks.
Deafness is a condition that can be permanent or temporary, and might be caused by a congenital disease, injury, untreated ear infection or old age.
Take your dog to the veterinarian if he stops responding to your voice or the sound of other dogs barking.
#17. Lens Luxation
This hereditary eye condition dislocates the lens and can damage the optic nerve, causing blindness. Symptoms of lens luxation include a red or painful eye, large pupil or the appearance of a shadow in the pupil.
Small terriers are the breed most commonly impacted by this health problem.
Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscles that causes the heart to dilate. Symptoms of this disease include decreased appetite, fatigue, trouble breathing and chronic cough.
Midsize and large breeds are most commonly impacted by this condition, which ultimately results in heart failure or sudden death.
#15. Otitis Externa
This condition occurs when the external ear canal becomes inflamed due to the presence of bacteria or fungus. Symptoms of otitis externa can include a foul odor coming from the impacted ear, excessive scratching of the ear or shaking of the head. Breeds with hanging ears are most susceptible to this infection.
#14. Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand's disease is caused by faulty platelets that impair the clotting of the dog's blood. Telling signs might include bleeding gums, susceptibility to bruising and excessive bleeding after an injury.
Dogs with ectropion have a lower eyelid that droops or rolls out from the surface of the eye. Breeds with loose facial skin are especially susceptible to this condition, which causes red, watery and irritated eyes.
This disease occurs when the head of the femur bone — which is attached to the hip bone — destructs, causing the dog to suffer pain, joint inflammation and instability.
Telling signs of Legg-Calvés-Perthes can include the dog refusing to move his leg or carrying the leg away from his body.
#11. Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
This painful joint disease occurs when cartilage replaces part of the dog's bones due to abnormal bone development as a fetus.
Symptoms of osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) will worsen after exercise and may include pain, swelling, carrying the impacted limb away from the body and an inability to support his body weight on the extremity.
Distichiasis is a disorder that occurs when a dog has extra eyelashes growing out of his eyelid. This condition can present no symptoms at all for dogs with soft hair, but those with thick hair might need to undergo surgery to have the troublesome hairs removed.
Allergies are a hereditary condition that causes dogs to suffer from itchy and irritated skin. You might want to have your dog tested for allergies if you've had her examined for fleas and scabies, but she continues to scratch and bite — especially in the outer ear canal.
Epilepsy is a lifelong brain disorder that causes the dog to have seizures. This condition can be managed with medication, but if the dog has a seizure that lasts longer than 10 minutes, take her to the veterinarian immediately, as an extended episode might be life-threatening.
In addition to epilepsy, a single occurrence of a seizures can be caused by a number of factors, including low blood sugar, ingesting poison or a head injury.
#7. Elbow Dysplasia
Symptoms of this congenital elbow joint disfigurement typically appear before the dog is 10 months old. Warning signs can include limping, swelling of the elbow, decreased range of motion, limpness and holding the extremity away from the body.
#6. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
There is no cure for this genetic condition that impacts the dog's retina and causes him to experience decreased vision.
Progressive retinal atrophy has many different forms that come with various symptoms, such as impaired night vision, diminished peripheral vision and complete blindness.
Cataracts can be hereditary and nonhereditary, but are typically genetic in dogs less than six weeks old. This condition is especially prevalent in dogs with diabetes. Those suffering from it experience cloudy eyes, which can cause blurred vision.
Entropion occurs when the lower eyelid folds inward, resulting in pain, irritation and excess tears. Thin-skinned dogs and those with deep-set eyes are most susceptible to this health problem.
#3. Gastric Torsion
This life-threatening condition occurs when a dog's stomach expands and twists around its axis — potentially caused by excessive consumption of food or water — allowing nothing to enter or exit the gastrointestinal system.
A dog with gastric torsion will appear visibly distressed and display symptoms such as rapid breathing, vomiting, drooling and collapsing.
#2. Patellar Luxation
A dog suffering from patellar luxation has a patella — kneecap — that is dislocated from its standard position in the groove of the thigh bone. This condition can be congenital or caused by leg trauma.
#1. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
Canine hip dysplasia occurs when a dog's hip joint becomes displaced. It's more common in larger dogs than smaller ones, and symptoms include pain and limping. Veterinarians use X-rays to diagnose this condition.