Dog Disease Symptoms - Health Checklist for Your Dog
Dogs can be affected with a number of diseases. The symptoms of viral and bacterial diseases vary a great deal and
may affect many body organs. Some of them can go undetected for years, others may be life threatening and progress
rapidly. Many bone, joint, muscle and heart diseases in dogs are hereditary and breed specific.
Disease Signs/Appearance Description
Acanthosis nigricans darkening of the skin as a result of chronic inflammation A skin disease where the skin becomes
thickened and dark, primarily affecting the axillae (armpits).
Acral dermatitis licking on the forelegs; pinkish-red, shiny, and sore skin; thickening of the skin and hair discoloration
and loss; A skin disease caused by an animal's licking a localized area excessively, especially on the legs and paws.
Acute moist dermatitis the skin becomes red, hairless and oozes fluid from the blood (serum); scratching or chewing of
the hair; Known as "hot spots," a localized area of a severely itchy, inflamed and oozing dermatitis exacerbated by the
animal's intense licking and chewing at the spot.
Addison's disease loss of appetite, lethargy, depression; weight loss, vomiting, weakness
Amyloidosis weight decreased muscle mass, swelling of the limbs, sometimes sudden blindness; loss of appetite,
nausea, increased thirst A condition where abnormal deposits of Proteinaceous material called amyloid are laid down in
tissues and impair their function. Common in Akitas and Chinese shar peis.
Atopic dermatitis skin inflammation and itchiness; licking the paws, groin or armpits; rubbing the face; darkening of the
skin; skin crusts, erosions, ulcers (result of infections) A skin disease caused by a dog's reaction to an inhalant allergy.
Basal cell tumor benign or malignant hard, raised nodules around the head or neck A cancer arising from a type of skin
Bladder cancer blood-tinged urine; straining in order to urinate Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) of the bladder is
prevalent in Scottish terriers and West Highland white terriers. Herbicide exposure increases the risk of TCC, whereas
increased consumption of green leafy and yellow orange vegetables the decreases the disease risk.
Bloat swelling of abdomen; drooling, retching, wandering restlessly; animals may become listless or show signs of pain;
shock Gastric Torsion - This is a life threatening hereditary problem prevalent in deep chested dogs such as Standard
Poodles, Dobermans, Great Danes etc. Breeders should be very aware of this problem. Be alert to symptoms:
abdominal swelling and unproductive vomiting. Signs that your dog is in discomfort also signal an alarm-anxiety,
whining, pacing, groaning, inability to find a comfortable position. Contact a veterinarian immediately. Time is critical.
Bullous pemphigoid blisters and ulcers on the skin An autoimmune (i.e., the body attacking itself) disease associated
with the formation of painful blisters. 34. Bundle branch block: an abnormality of the electrical conduction mechanism of
Cardiomyopathy lethargy; exercise intolerance; weight loss, night cough, swelling of the abdomen A disease of
weakened heart muscles. Associated with taurine deficiency in golden retrievers. Also, seen in giant breeds, boxers,
American cocker spaniels, Doberman pinschers.
Cataract foggy or opaque eye lens with yellowish cast A cataract is any opacity or loss of transparency of the lens of
the eye. The opacity may be confined to a small area of the lens or capsule, or it may affect the whole structure. A
complete cataract affecting both eyes will result in blindness, whereas small non-progressive cataracts will not interfere
with vision. You may suspect your dog is having visual difficulties and/or you may notice discoloration of your dog's
pupil(s). Cataracts can be removed surgically. The decision whether to do so
Color dilution alopecia areas of blue or fawn hair become brittle, dry and dull; the hair falls out; the affected skin is flaky
and prone to blackheads A form of follicular dysplasia causing various degrees of hair loss in middle-aged blue and
fawn Doberman pinschers.
Conjunctivitis inflammation of the conjunctiva (protective membrane); discharge from the eye; signs depend on the type
of the disease (allergic, bacterial, fungal or viral) An inflammation of the conjunctival membrane of the eye.
Copper-associated hepatitis failure to thrive, jaundice, ascites Abnormal copper metabolism: (usually Bedlington
terriers or Doberman pinschers) an inability to utilize and store copper properly, resulting in liver disease and other
Corneal dystrophy white, opaque ares in some places of the cornea (both eyes); may cause swelling of the cornea An
abnormality of the cornea usually characterized by shallow pits in the surface.
Craniomandibular osteopathy animals may experience intermittent but considerable pain when using their jaws due to
the developmental joint disease An abnormal development of the bones of the face and the jaw. Seen in West Highland
white and Cairn terriers, among other breeds.
Cushing's disease excessive thirst, hunger and urination; pot-belly appearance; hair loss (body); panting, weakness,
lethargy, skin infections Hyperadrenocorticism; a disease characterized by an excess secretion of corticosteroids from
the adrenal glands.
Degenerative myelopathy slow and painless loss of coordination in the hind legs resulting in partial paralysis
Progressive disorder primarily in German shepherd dogs where the spinal cord degenerates and causes rear limb
weakness and incoordination. Can end up with cauda equine syndrome, where the nerve roots at the end of the spinal
column become atrophied.
Demodicosis hair loss; oily skin; skin thickening; sometimes bacterial infections A kind of skin disease (mange) caused
by microscopic Demodex canis mites living within the skin layers and producing an immunodeficiency syndrome.
Diabetes mellitus increased appetite and thirst; increased fatigue, urination; weight loss; recurrent infections Diabetes
mellitus is a disruption of the body's ability to use carbohydrates/sugars. The diagnosis is made based on the typical
clinical signs - increased eating, drinking, and urination, with weight loss - together with persistently elevated levels of
glucose in both the blood and the urine.
In the diabetic dog without any other illness, the goals of therapy are to achieve near-normal blood glucose levels and
minimize the daily variation in those levels to prevent the complications.
Distemper fever, lethargy, runny eyes and nose, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, coughing, yellow eye and nose
discharge Viral infectious disease
Eclampsia restlessnes, panting, heavy breathing, jerky movements, muscle spasms, loss of coordination, seizures
(female dogs) Convulsions usually seen around the time of parturition (whelping).
Ectropion the lower eyelids turn outward, causing the pink conjunctiva to be visible and contact with debris An abnormal
rolling out of the eyelids.
Elbow dysplasia lameness that gets worse with exercise; in severe cases elbows gets swollen and is held away from the
body. An abnormal development of the elbow joint.
Encephalitis depresssion, behavior changes, seizures, loss of coordination; sometimes fever An inflammatory condition
of the brain causing signs of central nervous system dysfunction and epilepsy (seizures). A unique form of encephalitis
is prevalent in the pug breed and is called Pug Dog Encephalitis
Endometritis usually no signs; when used for breeding affected females fail to conceive Inflammation of the internal
layer of the uterus.
Entropion irritation of the surface of the eye; excess tear production Entropion (rolling in of the eyelids) and ectropion
(rolling out of the eyelids) are conditions caused by abnormal eyelid position in relation to the globe itself. Entropion will
often cause abrasions of the cornea and/or irritation of the conjunctiva. This is very painful and will require surgery to
correct. Most cases of entropion and ectropion are heritable. Entropion or ectropion may also occur due to scarring
from previous injury or surgery.
Epidermal dysplasia itchiness, loss of hair from feet and trunk; scaly and greasy skin; thickening and darkening of the
skin; secondary bacterial infections Abnormal development of the outer layer of the skin. Common in West Highland
white terriers and begins in puppyhood.
Epilepsy frequent or recurrent seizures Seizures are the result of a disturbance in the electrical activity of brain cells.
They can occur for a variety of reasons, in any breed of dog. Epilepsy is the term used for recurrent seizures where no
underlying disease process can be identified as the cause (also called idiopathic epilepsy).
Treatment depends on factors such as the severity and frequency of the seizures. A dog that experiences the
occasional mild seizure probably needs no treatment other than watchfulness on the
Fibrosarcoma NA A cancer arising from certain types of fibrous cells.
Folliculitis pustules within the inflamed hair follicles; often the follicles develop into widened cavities that drain on the
skin in the armpits, abdomen, and groin An infection of the hair follicles.
Gingival hyperplasia overgrowth of the gum tissue; gums cover the teeth leading to periodontal disease Overgrowth of
the gum tissues.
Glaucoma squinting, excess production of tears, oversensitivity to light; fixed stare, hazy cornea; eyeball may be
enlarged Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in dogs. It is the result of increased fluid pressure within the eye
(elevated intraocular pressure or IOP). If the pressure can not be reduced, there will be permanent damage to the
retina and optic nerve resulting in visual impairment.
Glaucoma is one of the conditions your veterinarian will suspect if your dog has a painful eye. It is diagnosed by
measuring the intraocular pressure with a tonometer.
Preserving vision in an eye wi
Hemangiosarcoma NA A cancer of blood vessels involving liver, spleen or skin.
Hemeralopia blindness in full daylight; affected dogs retain some vision in dim light Inability to see in daylight.
Histiocytoma benign skin tumor with a round, raised, hairless, and often red appearance A common benign tumor of
certain skin tissue cells (i.e., histiocytes).
Histiocytosis malignant skin condition with skin nodules; affected animals lose weight and are lethargic The most
prevalent cancer of Bernese mountain dogs, usually leading to early death.
Hydrocephalus seizures and, sometimes, vision loss A condition where there is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the
ventricles of the brain.
Hypothyroidism symmetrical hair thinning, hair loss; patchy hair loss; oily skin; increased skin pigmentation; thickened
skin; ear infections A common endocrine disease where the body produces an abnormally low amount of thyroid
hormones. An autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which affects more than 50 dog breeds.
Malabsorption syndrome large, greasy, and smelly stools; oily hair around the anus; dogs look malnourished although
they eat a lot A disease where the intestinal tract does not absorb nutrients properly. Also known as protein-losing
enteropathy as a consequence of inflammatory bowel disease. In Irish setters there is also a wheat-sensitive
Myasthenia gravis full paralysis or paralysis that only affects face, vocal cords, mouth or esophagus A syndrome
characterized by muscle fatigue due to an autoimmune disease which produces chemical abnormalities of the muscles
and nerves. An enlarged esophagus called megaesophagus can result and causes regurgitation of food.
Nasal solar dermatitis crusting of the nose; nasal calluses A skin disease of the nose and muzzle which is greatly
affected by exposure to sunlight. Common in collies.
Nodular panniculitis lumps in the fat layer under the skin which ulcerate and drain, leaving scars on the skin surface A
skin disease characterized by nodules of inflammation under the skin.
Osteochondrosis lameness, altered gait A group of developmental diseases resulting in abnormal formulation of joint
cartilage. Commonly involves the shoulder, stifle, hock or elbow.
Otitis externa smelly, inflamed, hot ears; dogs shake their heads and scratch their ears An infection of the external
structures of the ear.
Pannus brown patch of pigment on the cornea, reddened by blood vessels An immunologic eye disease characterized
by abnormal growth of tissue over the cornea.
Patellar luxation hopping, not bearing weight on the affected leg A condition where the knee cap slides in and out of
Perianal adenoma benign tumor in the tissue surrounding the anus A cancer arising from a cell of a gland found near
Protein-losing enteropathy vomiting, diarrhea, fluid buildup under the skin or in the abdomen A relatively common
genetically predisposed condition also called inflammatory bowel disease. Vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss are the
common signs. Seen in many breeds but mostly in soft-coated Wheaten terriers, rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs,
German shepherd dogs, golden retrievers, Dalmatians, Akitas, Irish setters, English setters.
Pyometra discharge of mucus (pale green, creamy or bloody) from the vagina after the estrus stage of the cycle An
bacterial infection of the uterus where it fills with pus.
Sarcoptic mange chewing, licking, and scratching; elbows and ear tips are inflamed and lose hair.
Sebaceous adenitis skin inflammation; yellow scales on the skin and hair loss A skin diseases that has come to life in
the last few years. Although not normally life threatening is does make the appearance of the animal unpleasant.
Ulcerative keratitis inflammation of the cornea resulting in its ulceration; squinting, excess tear production An
inflammation of the cornea characterized by the formation of ulcers.
Vitiligo parts of the body spontaneously lose pigment (either seasonally or permanently) A lack of pigment in the skin
(called vitiligo in man and hypopigmentation in nonhuman animals). Common in rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Old
English sheepdogs and dachshunds.
von Willebrand's disease unexpected bruising, nosebleeds, blood in the urine or feces Canine von Willebrand's
Disease is an inherited deficiency in one of the clotting factors of the blood. It is similar to hemophilia in some respects,
but may appear in either male or female. Dogs affected with VWD may have symptoms varying from very mild to severe
or lethal. These bleeding problems include prolonged bleeding from toenails cut too short, hemorrhage from even
minor surgical procedures, lameness, hematomas, and so on.
Zinc-responsive dermatosis scales on the foot pads and nose leather, around the eyes, ears, mouth, prepuce, and
vulva; crusting and hair loss A condition where the skin is abnormal (scaly, hair loss, etc.) but which responds to the
administration of zinc in the diet.