Six Deadly Dog Diseases You Must Know About Before Having A Pet

A corgi shaking water off while standing on railroad tracks.

You may be aware that Canid species suffer from illnesses in the same way humans do. And while it might be easy to brush off a runny nose or cough as a normal part of life, several serious illnesses can strike your dog at any time. You’ll want to be aware of them, so that if they affect your pup, you’ll know what to do immediately. 

Here are six deadly dog diseases you should be aware of:

Canine Distemper

According to the American Kennel Club, canine distemper is spread by aerosols, much like the common cold in humans. When an infected dog or wild animal coughs or sneezes, droplets are released into the environment that contains the virus and infect surrounding animals and surfaces, such as food bowls.

Canine distemper is a contagious, life-threatening disease. The initial symptoms include fever and loss of appetite, followed by coughing, nasal discharge, and eye inflammation. The virus can also attack the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. 

Canine distemper attacks dogs’ central nervous systems, as well as their mucous membranes and respiratory tracts. If you notice your pet having any of these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvo is a contagious virus that spreads from dog to dog through contact with infected feces. Once it causes symptoms in one animal, parvo can be difficult to cure and sometimes impossible to eradicate.

Veterinarians treat dogs afflicted with parvo by providing fluids and electrolytes, but the disease is often fatal. The best way to protect your dog is through vaccination and not allowing him anywhere near feces.

Veterinarian Dr. Whitney Miller notes that the virus is resilient and can live in suitable environments for several months, increasing the possibility of infections. Be sure to clean up after your dog and properly dispose of waste.

You must bring your pet to the vet immediately if you believe they have contracted CPV. Without treatment, the condition can become severe anytime.


Heartworms are deadly parasites that live in a dog’s heart and cause damage to the organ, blood vessels, and lungs.

Veterinarian Wendy Mandese says that if an animal host is infested with enough worms, it can cause life-threatening damage leading to heart failure or pulmonary hypertension.

All fifty states have reported cases of heartworm, which is spread to dogs by mosquitos and affects canines regardless of the climate. Preventative medication like Heartgard for dogs is just like buying insurance. 

This medication contains ivermectin and pyrantel. Ivermectin prevents the growth of heartworms inside the body, which eliminates danger and discomfort for your dog. On the other hand, pyrantel prevents the disease caused by roundworms and hookworms. While you may want to wait to spend money on it, it’s better than facing a crisis later.


Parainfluenza is a respiratory disease that can cause severe illness in dogs. This preventable viral infection has caused outbreaks of varying severity all over the world. It spreads through the air and causes symptoms like coughing, sneezing, gagging, and fever. Dogs with parainfluenza may have trouble breathing and can die if they don’t receive adequate treatment.

According to 1st Pet Veterinary Centers in Arizona, the best way to prevent parainfluenza is by vaccinating your dog. These vaccines are often combined with core vaccines like distemper and parvo so that they will last up to a year after the shot. Your vet can give a booster of these vaccinations every year, along with your dog’s other shots.


Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the Leptospira bacteria. It’s transmitted through contact with urine, mucous membranes, or tissues of infected animals, including dogs and rodents. 

American Veterinary Medical Association notes that leptospirosis is usually treated with antibiotics and supportive care. If it’s recognized early, chances for recovery are good. However, there remains the risk of permanent damage to the kidneys or liver.

The good news is that dogs who are vaccinated against leptospirosis don’t catch this disease as often and are less likely to suffer serious consequences if they do develop symptoms.

Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease is most common in older dogs, and its causes are often difficult to pinpoint because of the slow onset. Pet owners around the world overlook the symptoms as they are often lenient, which leads to severe consequences.

One of the best ways to prevent this disease is to keep an eye on your dog’s dental health. Bacteria that build up on canine teeth enter the digestive system through eating and drinking and infect the kidneys.

Veterinarians suggest fluid therapy as a treatment for kidney disease. It is important to provide your dog with the right nutrition and medication during this stage of treatment so that he or she can regain strength.

While you can’t always prevent your dog from contracting a deadly disease, you can take steps to reduce the risk. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines and other preventative care practices, such as heartworm prevention. 

If you suspect that your pet might be sick, consult a veterinarian right away. And if your dog does contract one of these fatal illnesses, don’t worry. With proper treatment and care, they may still make it through this rough patch in their lives just fine.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *