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Signs & Symptoms of Dog Illnesses That Every Owner Should Know About

When your dog isn't feeling well it can be difficult to know just how serious the situation is. Today our Thomasville vets share some of the signs and symptoms of common dog illnesses that can be serious or even deadly.

Serious Illnesses In Dogs

While symptoms such as lethargy, coughing or scratching can be quite common in dogs, they may be a sign of a serious illness or infection. Here are some of the most common, but potentially serious, dog illnesses and what you should do if your pet is displaying signs or symptoms.


Type I diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in dogs and will require insulin in order for your dog to live a long happy life.

Diabetes is considered manageable once diagnosed however, if left untreated, diabetes can lead to further health issues, such as cataracts, coma or even death.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes in dogs including lethargy, dehydration, and excessive urination. If your dog is drinking more water than usual. sleeping more than usual, or needing more bathroom breaks, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible for a diagnosis.


Spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called dirofilaria immitis. Once your dog becomes infected the worms will mature into adults and produce offspring while living inside of your pet.

Unfortunately there are no early signs of heartworm disease. Symptoms of the progressed condition include  fatigue, swollen abdomen, weight loss, coughing, and difficulty breathing but these symptoms will only become apparent once your dog is very seriously ill.

Our Thomasville vets recommend protecting your dog from heartworm disease by keeping them on preventive medications year round and having your dog tested for heartworm yearly. 


Parvovirus is a highly contagious, extremely serious viral disease that can threaten your dog's life. The most common symptoms of parvovirus include severe vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, lack of appetite, and bloody diarrhea.

This illness can spread to any animal or person who comes in direct or indirect contact with an infected dog's feces. The most important step in the prevention of this deadly virus is to make sure your dog is vaccinated against parvovirus.

If your dog is experiencing symptoms of Parvovirus, contact your vet immediately! Parvovirus is serious and can be fatal.


Unlike heartworm, ringworm is a fungus rather than a parasite. Dogs can actually carry the fungus without showing any symptoms, but the most common signs of ringworm in dogs are skin lesions or bald patches. 

Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread quickly to other animals and even humans. Bring your pet in to see the vet if they are showing symptoms of ringworm.

Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs are common and can be caused by anything from bacteria to allergies to ear mites. Typical symptoms of ear infections include ear odor, repeated head shaking, scratching, and lack of balance.

Ear infections in dogs can usually be cleared up quickly through cleaning and medication prescribed by your vet. Nonetheless, serious chronic infections may require surgery. Head shaking due to ear infections can be so forceful that the dog ruptures vessels within the ear.

If your dog is showing signs of an ear infection, see your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to diagnose your dog's ear infection and provide appropriate treatment to help prevent the infection from becoming more serious.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that causes inflammation to your dog's windpipe and voice box. Dogs with kennel cough will have a dry, hacking cough that often leads them to bring up a foamy phlegm or nasal discharge. This illness is extremely contagious to other dogs but will clear up on its own over time. If you think that your dog may be suffering from kennel cough, immediately isolate them from other dogs and call your vet for further instructions.

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.

If your dog is showing signs or symptoms of any of the illnesses listed above, contact one of our Thomasville vets today for further advice and to book an appointment for your dog.

Symptoms of serious dog illnesses, Thomasville Vet

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