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10 Chronic Illnesses in Dogs

Like people, dogs can come down with chronic illnesses. Many can be treated by a veterinarian, who can often offer pet caregivers useful tips to make a chronic illness more manageable.

Here is a list of to common chronic diseases that occur in dogs and symptoms. If you notice any in your dog, contact a veterinarian to discuss it.

1. Allergies

Allergies cause the immune system to react to environmental influences. Signs include itchiness and gastrointestinal upset; both are common. Look for chewing at paws, repeated ear infections, hair loss, diarrhea, flatulence, and vomiting.

2. Chronic Renal Insufficiency

This is a kidney disease in which they gradually lose the ability to properly filter waste and retain water and electrolytes. Infections or kidney stones can make it worse. Look for excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, or loss of appetite.

3. Cognitive Dysfunction

Also called dementia or senility, this can progress as your dog ages. It may be caused by the loss of dopamine in the brain. Urinary accidents, confusion, pacing, and anxiety are often noticed. Other symptoms include trouble reacting to and remembering family members, problems adjusting to new situations, and sleep disturbances.

4. Cushing’s Disease

This is a disease of the adrenal gland and causes it to release excessive steroid hormones like cortisol. Symptoms include increased urination, appetite, and panting. The dog may have a pot-bellied appearance, loss of hair, and skin infections.

5. Degenerative Heart Valve Disease

A disease in which one or more of the heart valves begin to “crinkle,” which disrupts normal blood flow pattern through the heart. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, fainting, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

6. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is diagnosed when the pancreas fails to produce insulin or the body is unable to use insulin. The result is high blood sugar, often accompanied by excessive thirst and urination.  Also look for weight loss despite an excellent appetite.

7. Obesity

One of the most common diseases in dogs, in which a dog reaches 30% over its ideal bodyweight. Obesity contributes to other diseases including diabetes, joint and ligament problems, and reduced life span. One way to determine if weight is appropriate is if you can feel you dog’s ribs and see his “waist.” If you can’t, the dog is probably obese.

8. Osteoarthritis

This disease damages the cartilage and supportive tissue around the joints.  Look for limping, difficulty with stairs, stiffness upon rising, pain when petted, and inability to jump.

9. Pancreatitis

This disease is the inflammation of the pancreas and leads to leaking of digestive enzymes.  Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, jaundice (yellow color to skin or whites of the eyes), and abdominal pain.

10. Periodontal disease

This is a dental disease caused by an tartar accumulating on the surface of teeth and under the gemlike. It can progress to destruction of teeth, roots, and periodontal ligaments.  Look for dark, discolored teeth, bright red gums, reluctance to eat, drooling, and sudden swelling on the face.

Source: Tamara Mengine, DVM

This site is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services for your pet. Through this site and linkages to other sites, Day By Day Pet Caregiver Support provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your veterinarian. Day By Day Pet Caregiver Support is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.