1. Home
  2. Small Dog Health
  3. Most Common Dog Diseases

7 of the Most Common Dog Diseases

Most Common Dog Diseases  by Stephanie N. Blahut
Published 03-12-2020

Your furry best friend cannot tell you when it is feeling under the weather. Instead, dogs rely on you to notice the signs that they may be in need of veterinarian attention.

Sometimes, a dog's symptoms — such as diarrhea or vomiting — are obvious. Other times, the indications that dogs are sick may be more subtle. You may, for example, notice that they are urinating a little more frequently or that they are resting in an odd position.

7 Most Common Dog Diseases with a French BulldogMost Common Dog Diseases

The following are seven common illnesses that can affect your small dog, as well as some of the symptoms your pet could be exhibiting. If you suspect that your pup has one of these diseases, take it to see a veterinarian as soon as possible so that it can receive proper treatment.

What are the Most Common Dog Diseases?


Unfortunately, Parvovirus is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease. In fact, when this gastrointestinal illness is not treated, it has a mortality rate of more than 90%. Dogs younger than six months and that have not been vaccinated against this disease are at the highest risk for contracting parvo.


  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weakness


Because dogs with Parvo can get dehydrated from the vomiting and severe diarrhea that accompany this disease, they may require treatment with intravenous fluids.

In addition, the vet may prescribe anti-nausea medications as well as antibiotics to treat any secondary bacterial infections. Parvovirus still remains one of the most common dog diseases.


This condition occurs when a dog's pancreas becomes inflamed. Although the cause is not known, pancreatitis attacks often occur after a dog has eaten a fatty meal. Pancreatitis is a painful condition that can sometimes be fatal without treatment. Some small breeds — including schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers and wire fox terriers — seem to be especially prone to this illness.


  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain (your dog may lie down with its rear end in the air and its front legs and head on the ground)


Your vet can perform a blood test to determine if your dog has pancreatitis. Because dogs with pancreatitis can get dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea, they often require intravenous fluids. Once your pet is well enough to go home, it will be placed on a strict, low-fat diet to prevent attacks.

Canine Influenza

Did you know that like humans, dogs can get the flu? It's true. Dogs have their version of influenza, which is highly contagious to other canines.

Canine influenza can be spread through coughing and barking as well as through ms contaminated with the virus. Humans who have come in contact with an infected canine can also pass the virus onto other dogs. So far, though, there has been no known transmission of the virus from dogs to humans.


  • Coughing
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing


Dogs with the flu should be isolated from other canines and kept as comfortable as possible during their recovery period. If your dog is running a high fever, your vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication.


If you have ever experienced a bout of Montezuma's revenge or traveler's diarrhea, then you are probably all too familiar with the microscopic protozoan giardia.

These one-celled parasites can be found in water, grass or soil that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected animal. If your dog has giardia, it may have ingested the parasite by drinking out of a contaminated creek or other body of water.

It can also get giardia by licking a body part that came in contact with contaminated soil.


  • Vomiting
  • Chronic intermittent diarrhea, sometimes bloody or frothy or with a foul odor
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Gas


Dogs who have tested positive for giardia will typically be given a drug such as fenbendazole or metronidazole. Your vet will want to follow up with your pet after several weeks to ensure that it is no longer infected with the parasite. You should also wash your dog, especially around its hind quarters, to rid its coat of any infectious giardia cysts.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of a canine's heart muscle that results in an enlarged heart. Normally, this condition is seen in large dog breeds. Recently, veterinarians around the world have begun noticing a sharp rise in DCM cases in small breeds.

Although researchers are still trying to determine the cause, some suspect that this disease may be linked to the grain-free diet that many owners are feeding their dogs. However, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet recommended that owners stop feeding their pets grain-free dog food.


  • Exercise intolerance
  • Rapid breathing while your dog is resting or sleeping
  • Coughing
  • Distended stomach


This is a serious condition that may need to be treated with several medications, including a diuretic and vasodilators.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be spread to your dog through the urine of infected animals, including rats and wildlife. One of the main ways that canines can contract this disease is by drinking standing water — such as in a pond or a puddle — that has been contaminated with the bacteria.

Although some dogs may never exhibit any symptoms, others can become seriously ill. Because this illness infects a dog's kidneys, some canines can be left with permanent damage to these organs. Fortunately, Leptospirosis, one of the most common dog diseases can be prevented through vaccination.


  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • More frequent urination
  • Organ failure


Your veterinarian will typically prescribe antibiotics to treat leptospirosis. Your pet may require additional care for leptospirosis-associated issues, such as kidney damage.

Kennel Cough

If your dog has developed a chronic hacking cough, it probably has a highly contagious respiratory disease known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis.

This disease, commonly known as kennel cough, can be caused by several viruses and bacteria, including Bordetella. This disease is spread through direct contact with an infected canine or a contaminated surface, such as a water bowl. 


  • Dry cough, sometimes with a honking noise
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Low fever


If your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, your vet will probably recommend that you keep it quiet and allow it to rest for a week or two. Your pup may also be prescribed an antibiotic and cough medications.

Most Common Dog Diseases Pin with Yorkshire TerrierMost Common Dog Diseases Pin for Future Reference

See Your Vet

Some serious diseases may seem relatively innocuous at first, but then spiral out of control. That's why it's critical to take your dog to the vet when it is not feeling well to help it receive timely and appropriate treatment. Any of the symptoms mentioned in this article could be associated with one of these most common dog diseases.  Don't delay if you see anything unusual in your dog.

Most Common Dog Diseases:  Author bio: Stephanie N. Blahut is Director of Digital Marketing and Technology for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.

Did You Find this Article, Most Common Dog Diseases, Helpful?

May we suggest a few more common diseases you might want to check out?

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

Does This Article Deserve Your Thumbs Up?

We always appreciate your support and encouragement.  Your thumbs up means so much to us.  Please like this article.

If you find this page or any page on Small Dog Place Helpful, or useful in anyway, I'd love it if you would click the small heart found on the bottom right of each page.

You can also share or bookmark this page -- just click on the:

10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog Breed

Free Monthly Newsletter

Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter and get our Free Gift to You.

my  E-book, The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog (and how to avoid them)