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The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms and Treatment

The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms and Treatment

A number of common illnesses and how they manifest in dogs can rightfully cause concern. Some canine illnesses may even be fatal if not promptly treated! In this post, our Santa Clarita vets offer some advice about the symptoms and treatments for common health problems in dogs.

Common Dog Illnesses

Dog owners need to be vigilant and prepared to visit their veterinarian for a physical exam and diagnosis if it is required. It helps to recognize dog illness symptoms in your pup in order to have them diagnosed and treated by a vet as soon as possible if necessary.

Below are 3 illnesses commonly found in dogs, their symptoms, and a short rundown of the common treatments used by vets.


Thanks to the strides taken in recent years to advance veterinary medical care, pet vaccinations, and treatments, our dogs live longer than ever before. However, this has also resulted in it being much more common for dogs to live long enough to develop diseases like cancer.

Causes & Symptoms

Different types of cancer - from skin, bone, and breast cancers to malignant lymphoma - can affect dogs as they enter their elder years. Cancer is more common in some breeds than in others due to genetic factors, but it is also important to know that environmental factors can contribute to the growth of canine cancer.

Though early detection can sometimes be difficult if little to no symptoms appear, classic symptoms of cancer include:

  • Lumps or bumps
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Lameness or swelling in bones or other parts of body


Depending on the kind of cancer your dog has developed, there are different treatments - such as surgical removal or chemotherapy - that can aid your pooch and prolong their life. In addition to treatments for cancer itself, your dog may also need veterinary attention to help alleviate pain and discomfort caused by this condition. These relief methods can include hot and cold packs, acupuncture, or topical medications depending on your pooch's specific needs. 

Early detection and treatment are critical to survival when it comes to cancer and, because of this, routinely scheduled wellness exams are key to preserving your dog's life preventing the undetected development of disease.

Ear Infections

If your dog is excessively scratching their ear or shaking their head more often, whining, or exhibiting other new forms of concerning behavior, a vet may want to examine them for ear infection.

Causes & Symptoms

Potential causes of internal ear infection include moisture in the ears (a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast), allergies, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, and more.

More visible symptoms of a dog's ear infection include:

  • Swelling or redness in the ear canal
  • Dark discharge
  • Pain
  • Odor
  • Itchiness
  • “Crust” or scabs in or around the ear


If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection, your vet may take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications if necessary to healing the infection and preventing damage. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how and when to apply it to your dog's ear at home.

With treatment in the early stages, an uncomplicated ear infection will typically clear up within just a week or two. If your dog's ear infection is more severe or is caused by an underlying health condition, treatment may be more challenging and may take months to resolve. In many cases, more severe cases result in chronic ear infections in dogs or repeated ear infections over the course of the pet's lifetime.


Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that your dog can contract from an infected dog’s feces or virus particles, which can survive in the environment for months.

Though people and dogs who have not received all of their vaccines are most susceptible to this virus, many dogs who receive timely and prompt treatment can be saved.

Causes & Symptoms

Symptoms of parvovirus include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (usually bloody)
  • Fever
  • Weakness


The best way to treat parvovirus is by preventing it altogether prevented with puppy vaccines and booster shots. It’s imperative that parvovirus is treated as soon as possible as it can lead to bone marrow damage, bacterial pneumonia, chronic heart disease and even sudden death.

If your dog does contract parvovirus, there is no cure, but they can recover over time with attentive treatment. Your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. It is also essential that your pup gets adequate hydration and nutrition during the recovery process.

Since secondary infections are common in dogs with Parvo (due to their weakened immune systems) your vet will be sure to monitor your puppy's ongoing condition and may prescribe antibiotics to help combat any bacterial infections that may begin to develop.

What to Do if Your Dog is Ill

If you see any of the symptoms of the above three illnesses in your dog, it's critical that you get them in to see a vet as soon as possible. At Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic, we have the services and diagnostic capabilities to help treat your dog's most challenging health conditions. 

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.

Are you seeing signs of illness in your dog? Our veterinarians at Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic are experienced in diagnosing and treating illnesses. Book an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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