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Dog Health - List of Ailments

We would like to make it clear at this stage that we at breedyourdog.com are not vets and have no medical experience. For this reason, we have attempted to define common ailments, but offer no advice for treatment.

Although this information has been thoroughly researched, there is no substitute for the advice given by a qualified and experienced veterinary surgeon.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from any of the following illnesses or diseases, medical advice should be sought immediately.


Abscess - Pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. Sometimes the abscess will burst on its own, which will relieve the pressure pain to the dog.

Addison Disease - This disease occurs when the dog's adrenal glands are not producing enough cortisol to break down certain nutrients.

Adenoma - A tumour that is usually benign, although it can turn malignant.

Adenovirus Hepatitis - This is a very infectious and potentially fatal disease; it affects the dog's kidneys and liver.

Adhesion - The term used to describe membranes that are abnormally stuck together, usually as a result of inflammation.

Alopecia - The term used for hair loss. Alopecia is a symptom and its cause needs to be determined and subsequently treated.

Anaemia - A serious condition, which can become fatal. It can be caused by nutritional deficiency, excessive bleeding or stress, which leads to a lack of red cells or haemoglobin in the blood.

Aneurysm - A weakness in the wall of an artery, which can burst and cause serious internal bleeding. Aneurysms are often fatal. They are often the result of an injury but can be a hereditary defect.

Angioma - A tumour, which is usually harmless, made up of a collection of blood vessels.

Angitis - Inflammation of a blood vessel.

Anorexia - Excessive weight loss.

Anuria - Unable to pass urine, or passing very small amounts of urine. More than likely caused by an obstruction, such as a kidney stone.

Arrhythmia - This is the term used to describe an irregular heartbeat. It can be an indication of heart disease.

Arteriosclerosis - A thickening or inflammation of the arterial wall, which consequently narrows the arteries leaving a restricted path for the blood to travel through.

Arthritis - Joint inflammation. Pain can be more severe in overweight dogs.

Asphyxia - Suffocation leading to death. The cause should be sought and dealt with immediately. Possibly caused by an obstruction in the airways or fume inhalation.

Asthma - A spasmodic contraction of the bronchi causing breathing difficulties. It may be inherited, but other possible causes are allergies, stress and bronchitis.

Ataxia - A condition affecting the muscles, causing a lack of coordination. It is a symptom of nervous disorders.

Atrophy - Tissue wasting disease caused by inactivity.

Avitaminosis - Vitamin deficiency.

Backache - Usually a symptom. It could be a symptom of any number of diseases or disorders such as hip dysplasia, kidney infection or spinal injury.

Bacteriophage - A bacteria destroying virus.

Balanitis - Inflammation of the penis usually caused by a foreign body.

Barren - This is the term used to describe a bitch that is unable to conceive.

Black Tongue - A disease caused by niacin deficiency.

Blepharitis - Inflammation of the eyelids which can be caused by infection, allergy or a foreign body.

Blindness - Can be caused by injury or disease, or it can be hereditary.

Bronchitis - Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the lungs caused by infection. Bronchitis can be chronic or acute.

Bronchopneumonia - Inflammation of the alveoli walls caused by infection. It is sometimes a secondary infection to diseases such as Distemper or Bronchitis.

Bursitis - Inflammation of the tissue that is located between a tendon and a bone. It is more common in older dogs and is generally caused by lying on a hard surface for long periods.

Calculus - A stone most commonly found in the urinary system.

Cancer - A disease in which healthy cells are taken over by diseased cells. The cause is unknown. Sometimes the bad cells are localised causing a tumour, sometimes they can travel to form secondary cancer elsewhere and sometimes they can infect the blood, causing Leukaemia. See Tumour and Leukaemia.

Canker - A disease of the ear generally caused by mites.

Cardiac Failure - This occurs when the tissues need more oxygen than is available, causing heart failure. During exercise, the muscles require more oxygen. An underlying heart disorder or disease can mean that there is not an adequate amount of oxygen to suffice.

Cataract - An eye disorder in which the lens becomes opaque, resulting in poor vision and eventual blindness. It can be hereditary and is more common in older dogs.

Catarrh - Inflammation of the mucous membranes. It is generally caused by cold or damp conditions and can lead to Bronchitis if not treated.

Cheyne-Stokes Respiration - A very serious condition, which can follow trauma or can be a sign of major organ failure.

Chondritis - Inflammation of the cartilage.

Chorea - A serious condition which is most often linked with Distemper.

Cirrhosis - A disease which can affect the lungs, liver and kidneys. Healthy cells are replaced by fibrous scar tissue, which hardens in the organs. Unless an inherited disease causes it, it can generally be avoided by a well-balanced diet.

Cleft Palate - An inherited condition which is characterised by a gap in the roof of the mouth. Surgery is required to correct the defect until then puppies can be fed artificially. As this is a hereditary condition, puppies born with this defect should not be allowed to breed.

Colitis - Inflammation of the colon which can be caused by infection or a foreign body. A chronic form is Ulcerative Colitis.

Collapse - A breakdown which can be caused by severe physical strain, heat stroke or shock.

Conjunctivitis - Inflammation of the conjunctiva caused by infection or foreign body, usually grit.

Constipation - Unable to pass faeces. This condition is usually caused by poor diet although it can be a symptom of a more serious condition.

Convulsion - Severe involuntary muscle spasm. Usually a symptom of a more serious condition, possibly epilepsy, hypoglycaemia or poisoning.

Coughing - Coughing is caused by an irritation in the larynx. More often than not the irritation is dust, smoke or other foreign bodies. Persistent coughing can be a symptom of a more serious disease, such as bronchitis, distemper or emphysema.

Cushings Disease - Usually affecting dogs over five years old; it is the over-production of corticosteroids by the cortex of the adrenal glands.

Cyanosis - This is an obvious sign that the dog's heart is working too hard. The lips, tongue and gums start to turn blue due to lack of oxygen.

Cyst - A fluid-filled growth.

Cystitis - Bladder inflammation usually caused by infection.

Deformity - Deformities are usually hereditary, the most common being bone malformations and cleft palate. Other deformities can be caused by injury.

Dehydration - Dehydration is caused by lack of fluid intake. It can be a symptom of vomiting, diarrhoea and heat exhaustion. Dehydration is very serious and can result in coma.

Depression - Boredom or stress generally causes depression. It can be detrimental to a dogs health and hinder recovery.

Dermoid Cyst - A cyst, which sits beneath the skin, is common in the testicles and ovaries it is generally caused by a foreign body.

Dew Claw - A dogs dewclaw is similar to a humans thumb; it is located at the back of the leg and is not used for walking. It must be removed within the first few days of life while the bones are still soft, or after eight weeks old under an anaesthetic.

Diabetes - An imbalance of glucose in the blood.

Diarrhoea - The frequent passing of very loose faeces. Diarrhoea is a symptom of a huge number of diseases, including tuberculosis, leukaemia, enteritis, distemper and stress. It is a serious condition in itself, leading to dehydration if not treated.

Distemper - Viral disease which attacks the nervous system. It is incredibly contagious, especially in young dogs.

Distress - Generally caused by fear. Fear could be as a result of trauma, cruelty or disease.

Docking - Tails can be docked on working breeds only within the first few days of life before the puppy's nervous system is fully developed. If the puppy is over one week old, docking must be delayed and performed under anaesthetic when the puppy is over eight weeks old.

Dysentery - A very serious form of diarrhoea with blood and discharge present in the faeces. It is a symptom of many diseases.

Dysphagia - Difficulty in swallowing, which may be caused by an obstruction, severe inflammation or tumour.

Dyspnoea - Respiratory difficulty generally caused by an obstruction.

Dystokia - A whelping complication, which can be caused by a large puppy, uterine torsion or uterine inertia.

Dysuria - Urine retention. Usually caused by an obstruction, but may be caused by kidney or heart disease.

Eclampsia - A whelping complication caused by lack of calcium.

Ectoparasite - A parasite that lives outside of the body.

Ectropion - A condition in which the eyelids turn outwards.

Eczema - Usually an allergic reaction causing skin irritation.

Embolism - An embolism is a potentially fatal blockage of a blood vessel, which can be a clot, a fragment of fat or an air bubble.

Emphysema - Respiratory disorder caused by over-inflation of the lungs.

Empyema - A collection of pus.

Encephalitis - A virus causing inflammation of the brain. It may be a symptom of rabies or distemper.

Endocarditis - Inflammation of the lining of the heart usually caused by a bacterial infection.

Endoparasite - A parasite that lives inside the body.

Enteritis - Inflammation of the intestines causing diarrhoea.

Entropion - This is a condition where the eyelids turn inward, causing irritation to the cornea.

Enuresis - See Urinary Incontinence.

Epilepsy - A disease affecting the nervous system, it is usually hereditary but can be as a result of brain trauma.

Epistaxis - A nosebleed, which can be caused by trauma, frequent sneezing or foreign body, such as a tumour.

Euthanasia - A pain-free way of ending a dog's life in circumstances such as incurable disease or severe trauma.

Exostosis - The overgrowth of a bone near a joint.

Fading Puppy Syndrome - A condition occurring in the first few days of birth, in which a puppy fails to thrive. There is no particular cause.

Fainting - Caused by a lack of blood to the brain.

Fever - A fever is a raised body temperature. It is a symptom of infection and can be fatal.

Fibroma - A slow growing, fibrous tumour, which is usually benign.

Filariasis - Caused by the filarial worm, which infests the heart and sometimes the eye.

Flatulence - The release of gas from the alimentary canal generally caused by indigestion.

Gastritis - Inflammation of the stomach lining. A foreign body can cause it, but it is usually down to poor diet.

Gastro-enteritis - Severe diarrhoea, which can be caused by a number of diseases, including distemper, tuberculosis and leptospirosis.

Gingivitis - Inflammation of the gums.

Glaucoma - Swelling of the eyeball causing impaired vision.

Glossitis - Inflammation of the tongue usually caused by infection due to the presence of a foreign body.

Haemorrhage - Internal bleeding caused by blood escaping from a vessel.

Heartworm - An endoparasite transmitted by mosquitoes.

Heat Stroke - A very serious condition which can be fatal. It is caused by negligence, i.e. dogs left in hot cars or over-exertion.

Hepatitis - Inflammation of the liver caused by a virus.

Hereditary - An ailment that is passed down from parents, i.e. hip dysplasia.

Hernia - A weakness in a tissue wall giving rise to protruding organs. Generally occurring in the abdomen, most common in dogs is an umbilical hernia.

Hip Dysplasia - Hereditary disease of the hip joint in which the femur dislocates and grows to a deformity.

Hydroneprosis - A condition in which the kidney becomes distended. Caused by trapped urine due to a blockage in the urethra.

Hypercalcaemia - Too much calcium in the blood, which can be caused by excessive vitamin D in the diet.

Hyperparathyroidism - A condition in which the parathyroid gland is over-active. A tumour can cause it.

Hyperthermia - Unusually high body temperature. See Heat Stroke.

Hyperthyroidism - Over-activity of the thyroid gland producing increasing body activity.

Hypertrophic Osteopathy - An inflammatory disease, which affects the lungs. Occasionally associated with tuberculosis.

Hyperventilation - Rapid breathing.

Hypocalcaemia - Low calcium levels in the blood, usually caused by a vitamin D deficiency.

Hypochromasia - Haemoglobin deficiency in the red blood cells.

Hypoglycaemia - Low blood sugar. This condition is an indication of ailments such as liver damage.

Hypothermia - Dangerously low body temperature.

Hypothyroidism - Under-active thyroid gland.

Hypoventilation - Slow, shallow breathing.

Kennel Cough - Respiratory irritation.

Kidney Stones - See Calculus

Klebsiella - An organism which causes uterine infections.

Laryngitis - Irritation in the larynx causing inflammation.

Leptospirosis - A very dangerous and infectious disease caused by contact with infected rat urine. This condition is fatal if not immunised against.

Leucocytosis - Increased amount of white blood cells. Can be caused by infection, pregnancy or it could be a symptom of blood disease.

Leucopenia - Reduced number of white blood cells. It can be a symptom of folic acid deficiency.

Leukaemia - A malignant disease affecting the haemopoietic tissue.

Lipoma - A fatty tumour.

Lupus Erythematosis - A collagen disease that can lead to kidney failure.

Mange - A parasitic skin infection. There are two types, sarcoptic mange and follicular mange; both result in hair loss and bacterial infection.

Mastitis - Potentially dangerous inflammation of the mammary gland.

Melanoma - A tumour, usually a form of malignant cancer, characterised by a dark pigmentation.

Meningitis - Inflammation of the membranes covering the spinal cord and brain.

Metritis - Uterus inflammation generally caused if a placenta or dead puppy has been retained after whelping.

Milk Fever - Low calcium, usually after whelping, causing a fever.

Mumps - Inflammation of the parotid glands causing discomfort and swelling around the ears and jaw.

Myasthenia Gravis - A muscular disease causing the dog to collapse through a weakness in the limbs.

Mycosis - A fungal disease.

Myocarditis - Inflammation of the myocardium muscle in the heart.

Myositis - Muscle inflammation usually following an injury or infection.

Myxoedema - An adult form of hypothyroidism.

Narcolepsy - A disorder that affects the central nervous system, in which a dog may suddenly fall asleep.

Necrosis - This is a condition in which tissue dies while still being a part of a living dog.

Nephritis - Kidney inflammation, which can be a symptom of leptospirosis, but is usually caused by a kidney infection.

Neuritis - Inflammation of the nerves usually caused by a viral infection.

Onychomycosis - A fungal infection affecting the claw.

Orchitis - A severe and painful condition in which the testes becomes inflamed.

Osteodystrophy - A bone formation defect usually caused by a calcium deficiency.

Osteomalacia - See Rickets

Osteomyelitis - An inflammation of the bone marrow, which could be caused by injury, abscess or infection.

Otitis - Ear inflammation, usually caused by a foreign body or canker, which is a parasitic infection.

Pancreatitis - Pancreatic inflammation. Most commonly affecting middle-aged, over-weight bitches.

Papilloma - A tumour that looks like a wart, it is usually benign.

Paraplegia - Paralysis of the hindquarters usually caused by injury, but can be caused by a slipped disc.

Parotitis - Inflammation of the parotid gland usually caused by mumps.

Parvo Virus - Very dangerous viral disease with a high mortality rate. Diarrhoea and dehydration are the two main complications.

Pericarditis - Inflammation of the pericardium usually caused by infection.

Peritonitis - Inflammation of the peritoneum usually caused by an infection in the abdominal cavity.

Pharyngitis - Inflammation of the pharynx, which can be a symptom of tonsillitis.

Phlebitis - Inflammation of the lining of a vein usually caused by injury or infection.

Pleurisy - A bacterial or viral infection in the chest area.

Pneumonia - See Bronchopneumonia

Polyuria - Passing excessive amounts of urine, which can be a symptom of kidney infection or liver disease.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - See Atrophy

Proteinuria - The presence of protein in the urine, it can be an indication of kidney disease or could also occur if the dog has been over-exercised.

Pruritis - Inflammation of the skin causing irritation and itching.

Ptosis - Paralysis in the eyelid.

Pyometra - Accumulation of pus in the uterus, which can lead to metritis.

Pyuria - The presence of pus and white blood cells in the urine usually caused by an inflammation or infection in the urinary tract.

Quinsy - Abscess on the tonsil, usually occurring with tonsillitis.

Rabies - Incredibly infectious virus, which attacks the nervous system. The condition is always fatal.

Ranula - Swelling underneath the tongue caused by a blockage in the salivary ducts.

Renal Failure - Kidney failure, which can occur through disease, injury or deficiency. The condition is usually fatal.

Retained Placenta - Whelping complication, which can lead to infection and metritis.

Retinal Atrophy - Commonly known as night blindness, it is a hereditary condition, in which the dog will eventually become blind.

Rheumatism - A condition, which affects older dogs, causing pain or discomfort in the joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - See Arthritis

Rhinitis - Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nasal cavities usually caused by infection or obstruction. It can also be a symptom of distemper.

Rickets - Disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.

Ringworm - A contagious skin disease causing lesions on the skin.

Roundworm - See Parasites

Salmonella - Food poisoning, which can cause severe gastroenteritis and death.

Salpingitis - Condition in which the fallopian tubes become inflamed.

Sarcoid - A tumour-like wart, which appears to be malignant, but is usually benign.

Sarcoma - A malignant tumour, which usually originates in a bone or muscle. A sarcoma is probably the most malignant of tumours.

Sarcoptes - This is the name given to the parasitic mites that cause mange.

Scleritis - Inflammation of sclerosis in the eye, which becomes bloodshot and inflamed.

Septicaemia - See Toxaemia

Sinusitis - Inflammation of the mucous membrane in the sinuses, causing extreme pressure pain.

Stomach Torsion - A condition in which the stomach becomes twisted causing swelling and distress.

Stomatitis - Inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth. Usually caused by an injury such as a scratch, but it can be a symptom of diabetes or uraemia.

Stress - Stress in a dog can be very serious and should never be ignored. Neglect, trauma or disease can cause it. A dog suffering from stress will struggle to recover from an illness or injury.

Stroke - A blood clot or haemorrhage in the brain causing paralysis.

Stuttgart Disease - This disease can occur as a result of leptospirosis, it is very serious and death usually occurs through kidney failure.

Tachycardia - Rapid heartbeat, which can be caused by heart disease, heat stroke or stress.

Tapeworm - See Parasites

Thrombosis - A blood clot, which causes a blockage in circulation.

Tonsillitis - Painful inflammation of the tonsils usually caused by infection.

Toxaemia - Blood poisoning caused by the absorption of toxins, usually from a bite or sting.

Toxocariasis - Roundworm infection.

Tremor - A spasmodic muscle contraction can be symptomatic of a disease in the nervous system.

Trichiasis - In-growing eyelashes, which can cause pain and irritation.

Trichinosis - A roundworm infection in a muscle.

Trichuriasis - An infestation of whipworm in the small intestine.

Trypanosomiasis - A parasitic disease which generally occurs in tropical climates.

Tuberculosis - A very contagious disease, which affects the organs, it can be hard to diagnose in the early stages.

Tumour - An abnormal growth that can benign or malignant. Tumour means lump.

Ulcer - An open sore, most commonly affecting the mouth, stomach or mammary glands.

Ulcerative Colitis - Colon inflammation leading to ulceration generally caused by bad diet or infection.

Umbilical Hernia - See Hernia

Uraemia - Excessive amounts of urea in the blood, which can be indicative of kidney disease.

Urethritis - Inflammation of the urethra, which can be caused by cystitis.

Urinary Incontinence - Inability to hold or control the passing of urine.

Urinary Retention - Inability to pass urine. This is generally caused by a blockage in the urinary system.

Urolithiasis - A blockage in the urinary system caused by calculus, small gravel-like stones.

Urticaria - A skin condition usually caused by an allergy to plants or stings.

Uterine Inertia - A whelping complication in which labour commences but fails to continue usually caused by muscle weakness.

Uterine Sepsis - Uterine Sepsis - See Metritis, Pyometra

Uterine Torsion - A whelping complication in which the uterus becomes twisted.

Varicocele - Distension of the veins in the testes.

Von Willebrand's Disease - Lack of Factor VIII, one of the clotting agents, in the blood. This disease is hereditary and causes internal haemorrhage.

Warts - Small tumours, that can be found anywhere on the body, caused by a virus.

Wasting - Excessive weight loss due to disease or neglect.

Weils Disease - See Leptospirosis

Worms - See Parasites

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