6 Most Common Dog Diseases

My dog has been sick with two of these six most common dog diseases – and she passed one of her diseases along to me. Generous of her! Parasites (giardia in particular) are a common dog disease, and humans can “catch” it from their beloved animals if they’re not careful.

Most Common Dog Diseases

Dog Vitamins

The best way to prevent any disease in your dog is to keep him or her as healthy as possible. Some dog owners swear by vitamins and mineral supplements for dogs, such as the  Purina 3-Pack Fortiflora Canine Nutritional Supplement. My dog Georgie has a bad tummy, and I sprinkle a supplement on her food every morning and evening.

Here, Victoria writer Janet Caplan shares the information she found while researching the most common dog diseases. I included links to the most common products on Amazon that can help treat various illnesses, such as glucosamine chews for arthritis in dogs. Janet also briefly describes the causes of these illnesses, plus treatment tips for the most common dog diseases, and describes a health condition that her cocker spaniel is suffering from…

The Six Most Common Diseases That Affect Dogs

by Janet Caplan

Dogs are susceptible to a variety of ailments and diseases and it’s important for us as guardians of our pets to be informed about what some of these conditions are.

I know for example that one of my cocker spaniels, Huey, has a thyroid condition and that he also suffers from Cushing’s disease. He’s had both for years and has been, continues to be, successfully treated. Huey is rapidly approaching his 15th birthday.  Wally, our six year old, is prone to skin allergies and ear infections and receives proper medication when it’s warranted.

In my extremely dog friendly environment I’m often told by neighbors and friends about the state of their dogs’ health. Discussions about fleas and ticks, allergies, illnesses, and common dog diseases are not unusual. Being alert to changes in our pet’s behavior as a result of illness is critical to their well- being. With that in mind, and in no particular order, I’ve put together the following list of some of the most commondiseases that dogs get.

Diabetes in Dogs

Signs of a diabetic dog may include increased thirst, frequent urination, rapid weight loss, abdominal pain, depression and fatigue. These indicators can also be symptomatic of kidney disease, so your veterinarian’s diagnosis is important for proper treatment.

If your dog has diabetes, he or she can still enjoy dog treats! All Natural Diabetic Dog Treats – Veterinarian Approved are all-natural cookies that contain ingredients known to reduce blood sugar and slow the rate of metabolism.

Diabetes can be caused by obesity or it can be age, gender or breed related. Onset for this common dog disease is at about age 8. Diabetes is a dog disease that occurs twice as frequently in females as males. This disease is more common in dogs such as Samoyeds, miniature schnauzers and poodles and bichon frises.

According to a report entitled the State of Pet Health 2012 put out by Banfield Pet Hospital (the world’s largest veterinary practice), diabetes in dogs increased by 32% between 2006 and 2011: a disturbing trend. Management of the disease includes proper nutrition and exercise and possibly insulin medication.

Arthritis in Dogs

Another common disease among older dogs, arthritis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements, possibly acupuncture, physical and/or hydrotherapy and balanced nutrition. Signs of this common dog disease would be stiffness, hesitation in taking stairs, slowness and tiring quickly on walks and possibly some acknowledgement of pain in affected areas.

arthritis common dog disease

Glucosamine for Arthritis in Dogs

Arthritis may be caused by a variety of factors including age, excess weight and breed. Particular breeds such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers have a greater tendency to become arthritic. Other possible causes of this common dog disease are hereditary conditions and cartilage damage resulting from an accident and infection.

GlycanAid-HA Advanced Joint Health Supplement for Dogs is a popular remedy for arthritis in dogs, and is also described in an article called Arthritis in Dogs – How to Relieve Your Dog’s Pain, here on the Dog Blog.

External Parasites in Dogs

Not only do these parasites cause irritation to your dog’s skin but they can be transmitted to you as well. This is a common dog disease, but parasites can be spotted by the human eye. Careful examination of your dog’s skin is essential to detecting these bugs which include fleas, ticks, lice, mosquitoes, mites and mange. Ticks, which are most prevalent in the spring, can spread infections such as Lyme disease and babesiosis. Fleas, in addition to being skin irritants, can transmit some types of tapeworms. Lice, mange and ear mites all cause skin and/or ear inflammation and possible infection.

Various treatments are available to rid your dog of external parasites. In the case of ticks, check your dog daily and remove ticks carefully with a tweezers.

Internal Parasites in Dogs

These parasites include tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms. While heartworms are caused by the bite of a mosquito, the other variety of worms lay eggs that are passed in the dog’s stool when they eat soil that has been contaminated by the worm eggs. Coughing, lethargy and difficulty breathing can be symptoms of heartworm which if left untreated may cause heart disease and death.

Signs of internal parasites in your dog include diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, anemia and in the case of a pup, stunted growth. Treatments for this common dog disease are not always successful, but preventive medications for parasites are available.

If your dog has tummy troubles – which can be caused by parasites – read What Causes Gurgling Stomach Noises in Dogs?

Dental Disease in Dogs

Dental disease in the form of plaque build-up, gingivitis and cavities is a very common occurrence in pets. It is estimated that 80% of dogs are affected by it by the age of two. Regular tooth brushing with dog toothpaste is one of the best ways to prevent this common dog disease. Treatment itself involves the removal of plaque to the extraction of teeth if necessary.

A dog toothbrush and toothpaste such as the Petrodex Dog Dental Care Kit With Poultry Toothpaste can help prevent dental disease in dogs.

If your dog’s dental problems are not looked after, he or she may develop periodontal disease which destroys the gums and tissue supporting the teeth. Your dog may also be prone to infections that can affect other organs in the body such as the heart and kidneys. Signs of dental disease in dogs run the gamut from bad breath to loose teeth to bleeding gums. Regular veterinary dental checkups are recommended to prevent the most common dog diseases.

Obesity in Dogs

Most Common Dog Diseases


Unfortunately obesity has become an all too common problem in our dogs. Between 2007 and 2011 the pervasiveness of excess body fat in dogs has increased by 37%. At highest health risk are mature adult dogs, particularly large breeds. Obesity in dogs is linked to a variety of health issues such as heart and respiratory problems, arthritis and diabetes.

Most often it is we, as dog owners, who are at fault as we tend to overfeed and under exercise our dogs. The best treatment plan for this most common dog disease is to reverse our behaviors. Restrict caloric intake by adjusting what and how much you feed your dog. Give him an extra walk before bed or allow them an extended run at the dog park.

Vaccinations for Dog Diseases

Today many dog diseases can be prevented through vaccinations that begin in puppyhood. Yearly boosters should follow. It is important to check with your vet regarding vaccination protocol suitable for your dog.

In Canada, the core or basic dog vaccines given cover the following:

Most Common Dog Diseases


  • Distemper: Viral disease in dogs, affecting respiratory, digestive & nervous systems
  • Hepatitis: Viral disease in dogs, affecting in the liver
  • Parvo: Viral disease in dogs, affecting the gastrointestinal system
  • Rabies: Viral disease in dogs, affecting the central nervous system
  • Parainfluenza: A dog virus that can be one of the causes of Kennel Cough in dogs

The non-core or other available vaccines for dogs cover:

  • Leptospirosis: Bacterial disease in dogs, which can affect the kidneys
  • Kennel Cough: Bacterial infection in dogs, causing bronchitis & bronchopneumonia
  • Coronavirus: Viral infection in dogs, which attacks the gastrointestinal tract
  • Lyme Disease: Tick-borne disease in dogs, affecting joints, kidneys and heart
  • Giardia: Parasite of the gut (“beaver fever”) causing diarrhea, bloating

In addition to the common dogs diseases I’ve mentioned here, your dog may fall victim to other health problems.

Other Health Ailments and Conditions in Dogs

Dogs can suffer from other health issues, such as skin conditions and allergies, thyroid and kidney diseases, gastrointestinal and urinary tract issues, ear infections, torn ligaments, broken bones and more. Looking out for signs and symptoms is a smart way of minimizing what could potentially be a serious illness. The importance of your dog’s maintaining a good weight via well balanced nutrition and proper exercise cannot be overstated.

One of the most common diseases in dogs that wasn’t discussed in this article is cancer. To learn about this illness, read 6 Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Plus Treatment Options.

Your comments about these most common dog diseases and treatment options are welcome, but we can’t offer veterinary or medical advice about your dog.

most common dog diseases Janet Caplan

Janet Caplan

Janet Caplan is a Canadian writer living near Victoria on Vancouver Island. In addition to the variety of anthologies that include some of her personal essays and slice-of-life pieces, she is currently working her way into fiction via a collection of linked short stories set in her fabulous part of the world.

Janet’s writing about her life, her beautiful natural surroundings and her cocker spaniels has also appeared in several magazines, journals and online. Visit her  Author’s Page at Amazon for a list of her work. She has contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Kitchen Table Stories, What’s Your Story?, Holiday Writes, and Seasons of Our Lives.

Sources: 1) Vaccination and Your Dog, from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; and 2) Common Dog Diseases and Health Problems, from Purdue.

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