Common Dog Diseases

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 | 


A Word From Dr. Joyce Ashamalla


From regular checkups, to vaccinations, and emergency care, dog owners have a variety of reasons to visit the veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and breed, you may also take frequent trips to the vet for treatment of a disease. In today’s blog, we will cover common dog diseases seen at the vet, along with symptoms to watch out for and treatment options for these diseases.

Gastritis in Dogs

Gastritis, enteritis, and colitis in dogs is often caused by a dietary indiscretion. Perhaps your dog ate something he shouldn't have, like a stick in the backyard or contents of the garbage. Or you fed your dog table scraps like fast food, junk food, or a food that was too spicy or rich. These are all examples of things that can happen every day and have some not-so-fun effects on your furry friend.  These can cause inflammation in the stomach, small and large intestine, or colon, and can lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea or serious conditions such as pancreatitis.

If your dog exhibits any of these signs, visit your vet to begin treatment. With an upset stomach, your vet will provide symptomatic and supportive care which may include an antiemetic to stop the vomiting, an antidiarrheal, enteric antibiotic, and/or fluids. Depending on the dog’s history and current condition, your vet may request diagnostics including a fecal check, X-rays and/or bloodwork. If your dog has stopped eating or is lethargic, your vet must also rule out any kind of foreign body obstruction like a toy, piece of plastic, corn cob, because this can also cause vomiting or diarrhea. Hopefully, it's nothing more than a mild GI upset that is easily treated.

Atopy in Dogs

Just like humans, many dogs suffer from atopy (environmental allergies), and will sneeze and itch or lick their paws during certain times of year. Antihistamines were previously the primary treatment, but were found to be ineffective, and were a hassle because they had to be given frequently and came with many side effects. The other "old school" method for allergy treatment was to give steroids, which also came with many side effects.

Thankfully, allergy treatment for dogs has come a long way in recent years and we now have two new options for treatment. The first is a medication called Apoquel, which is a fast acting pill and can treat many different kinds of allergies. The second treatment is an injection called CytoPoint, which is actually an antibody and not really a drug, so it is considered immunomodulation therapy. This injection is specifically for environmental allergies, and does not help food, flea, or contact allergies. One injection usually lasts about 4-6 weeks, so depending on what you dog is allergic to, that will dictate how many injections you may need seasonally. Both of these newer treatments have been shown to be safe and effective.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture in Dogs

Another disease vets frequently treat dogs for is cranial cruciate ligament rupture, which in humans, is known as an ACL tear. The cranial cruciate ligament connects the thigh bone with the lower leg bone and when ruptured, causes rear-leg lameness in dogs. If you see your dog having trouble rising from a sitting position or holding his leg up while standing, you need to consult your vet.

Studies have shown there is a large genetic or hereditary component to CCL ruptures, as certain dog breeds are predisposed to this disease. Veterinarians also speculate that the increase in cases of pet obesity have played a role in the rise of CCL ruptures in recent years. Learn more about pet obesity here.

The best way to treat a CCL rupture is through surgery. There are many surgical techniques available to fix the problem and your veterinarian will recommend the procedure that is best for your dog. The good news is that regardless of the surgical option you choose, your dog should be back to using his leg 100% in no time. Although there is a chance that dogs will develop arthritis after CCL rupture surgery, which may require long term management.

Thankfully, the most common dog diseases veterinarians see at their clinics are easily treatable. Even though gastritis, environmental allergies and CCL ruptures affect many dogs, with proper treatment from the vet, the prognosis is good and your best friend will be back to his loveable self in no time!