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The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms & Treatment

Several common illnesses in dogs and their associated symptoms can be cause for concern. In this article, our Grayson vets discuss some common illnesses seen in dogs and possible treatment options.

Common Dog Illnesses

Dog parents must be vigilant and prepared to visit their veterinarian for a physical exam and diagnosis if required. The following are 3 illnesses commonly found in dogs, their symptoms, and a short rundown of the common treatments employed by vets.


As our dogs live longer than ever before thanks to advances in veterinary medical care and vaccinations, therapies, and treatments, it becomes much more common for our dogs to live long enough to develop diseases like cancer at some point in their lives. 

Causes & Symptoms

Different types of cancer - from skin, bone, and breast cancers to malignant lymphoma and soft tissue sarcomas - can plague dogs as they enter their elder years. Cancer is more common in some breeds than in others because of genetic factors. Environmental factors can also occur.

Though early detection can sometimes be difficult if little to no symptoms appear, classic symptoms of cancer include:

  • Lumps or bumps
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lameness
  • Wounds that won't heal
  • Swelling in bones or other parts of the body


Depending on the kind of cancer your dog has developed, a tumor could be removed surgically, and there may be options to treat or cure the disease or prolong your dog’s life. In addition to treatments for cancer itself, your dog may also need veterinary attention to help alleviate any pain and discomfort caused by this condition. These treatments can include hot and cold packs, acupuncture, or topical medications depending on your pooch's specific needs. 

Early detection and treatment are critical to survival when it comes to cancer and, because of this, routinely scheduled wellness exams are key to preserving your dog's life and catching diseases like cancer in their earliest stages. 

Ear Infections

If your dog is suddenly scratching their ear or shaking their head more often, whining, or exhibiting other relatively new forms of concerning behavior, a vet can examine them to find out whether they may have an ear infection.

Potential causes include moisture in the ears (a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast), allergies, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, and more.

Other Possible Signs

Signs and symptoms of ear infections in dogs may include:

  • Pain
  • Dark discharge
  • Swelling or redness in the ear canal
  • Odor
  • Itchiness
  • “Crustiness” or scabs


If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection, your vet will take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications appropriate for treating your pet's ear infection. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.

With treatment in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. In many cases, more severe cases result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections throughout the pet's lifetime.


Dogs can contract this highly contagious viral disease from an infected dog’s feces or virus particles, which can survive in the environment for months. Though people and dogs who have not received all of their vaccines are most susceptible, many dogs who receive timely and prompt treatment can be saved.

Causes & Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea (usually bloody)
  • Fever
  • Weakness


The best way to treat Parvovirus is by preventing it altogether with puppy vaccines and booster shots. Parvovirus must be treated as it can lead to bone marrow damage, bacterial pneumonia, chronic heart disease, and even sudden death.

If your dog does contract parvovirus, there is no cure. However, your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Your pup must get adequate hydration and nutrition to recover from Parvovirus.

Since secondary infections are common in dogs with Parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.

What to Do With a Sick Dog

If you see any of the symptoms of the above three illnesses in your dog, you must get them in to see a vet as soon as possible. At All Creatures Veterinary Care, we have the services and diagnostic capabilities to help treat your dog's most challenging health conditions. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of an illness? Contact our Grayson vets to book an appointment for your pup.

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All Creatures Veterinary Care is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Grayson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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