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The Most Common Dog Illnesses: Symptoms and Treatment

Many common illnesses in dogs and their symptoms can be cause for concern. Some may even be fatal if not properly treated! Our Thousand Oaks vets share advice about the symptoms and treatments of common canine health issues.

Common Dog Illnesses

Dog owners need to be vigilant and prepared to visit their veterinarian for a physical exam of their pooch when required. Below are 3 illnesses commonly found in dogs, their symptoms, and a rundown of common treatments employed by vets.


Thanks to modern veterinary medicine, our beloved dogs are living longer than ever. This also means, however, that they have more time in their lifespan to develop illnesses or, in some unfortunate cases, allow cancer cells to multiply.

Causes & Symptoms

Different types of cancer (skin and bone cancer, breast cancer, soft tissue sarcomas) sometimes affects dogs as they enter their elder years. Cancer is more common in some breeds than in others due to genetic factors, though external factors can also contribute.

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, a tumor could be removed surgically. Alternatively, there may be other options to treat or cure the disease to prolong your dog’s life.

In addition to treatments for cancer itself, your dog may also need veterinary attention to help alleviate pain and discomfort cause by this condition. These treatments 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 schedule wellness exams are key to preserving your dog's life and catching diseases like cancer in their earliest stages. 

Ear Infections

If your dog is suddenly scratching their ear or shaking their head more often, whining, or exhibiting other relatively new forms of concerning behavior, a vet can examine them to find out whether they may have an ear infection.

Potential causes of ear infection include moisture in the ears, allergies or seasonal allergies, autoimmune disorders, wax buildup, and more. Only your vet can determine a most probable cause and, therefore, appropriate treatment.

Causes & Symptoms

Other symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your dog has an ear infection:

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


Your vet will typically take the time to clean your dog's ear with a medicated cleanser and prescribe any antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications to help heal the ear. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical medication and instruct you on how to apply it at home, which would be pertinent to your dog's ear health!

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.


Dogs can contract this highly contagious viral disease 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 parvovirus, dogs who are treated promptly can be saved.

Causes & Symptoms

Symptoms of this virus include:

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


The best way to treat Parvovirus is by preventing it altogether with puppy vaccines and booster shots.

It’s vital 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. However, your vet will offer supportive treatments to address symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Your pup will need adequate hydration and rest in order to recover.

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 VSEC, we have the services and diagnostic capabilities to help treat your dog's most challenging health conditions. 

Are you seeing signs of illness in your dog? Book an appointment with our skilled veterinarians at VSEC.

New Patients Welcome

VSEC Thousand Oaks is accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions.

Contact (805) 492-2436