Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Common Health Problems in Dogs

Common Health Problems in Dogs

When dogs are sick it can be difficult to understand just how serious the situation is because dogs can't effectively communicate their issues. In today's post, our West Salem vets explain the signs of some common dog illnesses that can seriously impact your dog's health and longevity.

Common Health Issues

Although symptoms such as lethargy, coughing, or scratching are relatively common in dogs, they could also be an indication of a serious condition that requires veterinary attention. Below are a few potentially serious but common illnesses found in dogs and what you should do if your pet is experiencing symptoms.


Parvovirus is a highly contagious, extremely serious disease that can threaten the life of your dog. The symptoms of parvo include:

  • severe vomiting
  • lethargy, dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • bloody diarrhea.

This illness can spread quickly and easily between animals that come in contact with even minute traces of an infected dog's feces. The most important step in prevention is to make sure your dog is vaccinated for parvovirus.

If your dog is showing signs of Parvovirus, contact your vet immediately. Parvovirus is a life-threatening disease.


Type I diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in domesticated dogs. If it is a condition your dog has, they will require insulin therapy.

Once diabetes has been diagnosed it is considered manageable, however, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to additional health problems, such as cataracts, coma, and death.

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs include lethargy and dehydration. If your dog is drinking more water than usual or sleeping more than usual be sure to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis.


Spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called dirofilaria immitis.

If your dog becomes infected the worms will mature into adults and produce offspring while living inside of your pet's heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

Unfortunately, there are no early signs of heartworm disease. Symptoms of the progressed condition include:

  • Fatigue
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

These symptoms will only become apparent once your dog is seriously ill.

We recommend protecting your dog from heartworm disease by keeping them on preventive medications year round and having your dog tested for this deadly parasite at their yearly routine wellness exam.


Unlike heartworm, ringworm is a fungi rather than a parasite.

Dogs can carry the ringworm fungus without showing any symptoms whatsoever, but the most common signs of ringworm are skin lesions or bald patches.

This condition is highly contagious and can spread quickly to other animals and even humans. Bring your pet in to see the vet as soon as possible if they are displaying symptoms of ringworm, or if the humans in their life have contracted ringworm.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection in dogs that causes inflammation to your dog's windpipe and voice box. Dogs with kennel cough develop a dry, hacking cough that often leads them to vomit foamy phlegm or nasal discharge.

Kennel cough is also extremely contagious to other dogs but will clear up on its own over time provided that your dog's immune system is strong and your dog is otherwise healthy.

If you think your dog is suffering from kennel cough, immediately isolate them from other dogs and call your vet for further instructions.

Ear Infections

Dog ear infections can be caused by anything from bacteria to allergies to ear mites. Common symptoms of ear infections include repeated head shaking, scratching, lack of balance, and/or ear odor.

Ear infections in dogs are often easily cleared up if diagnosed and treated early with gentle cleaning and medication prescribed by your vet. If the ear infection is chronic it may require surgery depending on the cause.

If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection contact your vet right away to book an appointment. Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog's ear infection and provide appropriate treatment to help prevent the infection from becoming more serious.

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 displaying some of the symptoms above? Contact our West Salem vets to schedule an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

West Salem Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of West Salem companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Contact (503) 588-2903