Blue ice pack on a sick dog’s head

Protect Your Dog From These Common Dog Diseases

Keeping your pet healthy is probably your number one goal.  One of the most important ways to keep a healthy pet is to protect it from diseases.  Many of the most common dog diseases can be prevented by timely immunizations.  The risk of other common diseases with no preventative shots can be avoided by proper attention to your dog’s care.  Here are some of the more common diseases you need to be aware of:


Distemper is contagious and has no known cure.  It is fatal in 80% of puppies and 50% of adult dogs.  The best way to protect your dog from distemper is by vaccinations. The vaccinations for puppies usually start between 6 and 8 weeks of age with a booster every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs may only need a vaccination every other year to maintain immunity.

Parvovirus (Parvo)

Parvo is extremely contagious, especially among puppies, and can lead to death within 48 to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, and severe diarrhea.  The is no known cure. Puppies should be vaccinated at six, nine, and twelve weeks and should not contact outside dogs until at least two weeks after their last vaccinations.


Rabies is also a virus and is almost always fatal.  Because rabies can also be fatal to humans and other animals, state and local laws uniformly require rabies vaccination. Booster shots are required periodically.  Newer rabies vaccines are effective for three years.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory disease similar to a chest cold in humans.  It is highly contagious and frequently is spread in kennels and shelters. Symptoms can include a dry hacking cough and inflammation of the larynx, bronchial tubes, and trachea. The best prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus.  Kennel cough is treatable with antibiotics.  Vaccinations for other dog diseases may provide some protection from kennel cough.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can cause damage to the kidneys and liver.  Symptoms include lethargy, kidney inflammation, low-grade fever, vomiting, reddening of the mucous membranes and conjunctiva, and blood clotting abnormalities.  Vaccines can provide some protection for leptospirosis, and antibiotics are effective if treatment is started in time.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial disease carried by certain ticks.  Dogs can develop the disease if bitten by an infected tick.  Symptoms in dogs will include lethargy, joint pain, lack of appetite, lymph node enlargement, and fever.  Treatment with antibiotics works best if given during the early stages of the disease.  Vaccines are available, but they carry the risk of serious side effects.


Coronavirus is a viral disease almost identical to, and it can be confused with parvovirus. Diarrhea and vomiting are common symptoms. Other indications are loss of appetite, smelly diarrhea, lethargy, and dehydration. Has your puppy vaccinated against coronavirus at 9 and 12 weeks of age? Adult dogs do not require yearly boosters.


Heartworms are parasites spread by mosquito bites. The parasites 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. Most dogs can be protected from heartworms by administering preventive drugs.

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