7 Deadly Diseases Responsible for Killing Your Dog

No matter how mischievous or lazy our dogs may be, they become ingrained in our everyday lives, and we love them. The sheer idea of losing your beloved canine can feel incomprehensible. Yet, the eventual day comes when we must bid farewell to our fur babies. Even though many dogs live long, healthy lives, dying only of old age, others walk a different path.

Deadly canine diseases come in many forms and often are not preventable. As a dog owner, it’s important to recognize the warning signs that could be hinting towards a serious health problem down the road. These are the seven deadly diseases responsible for killing dogs. 

7. Seizures

sick dog on the floor

Seizures can be a sign of a bigger issue. | Chalabala/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 1.2% of canine deaths

Canine seizures do not always equal death but are scary nonetheless. Similar to a human seizure, dogs experience the same rapid contraction and relaxation in the muscles, but it’s cluster seizures that typically kill dogs. With cluster seizures, dogs experience multiple episodes in a very short window of time. Commonly, seizures are a symptom of a bigger issue, but in the case of clusters, it can be deadly. Either way, a visit to the vet’s office should be in order.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Back and forth pacing
  • Twitching
  • Accidental elimination
  • Dizziness

Next: This disease will break your heart.

6. Heart disease

King Charles spaniel puppy

Look for early warning signs. | JLSnader/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 3.5% of canine deaths

Degenerative Valvular Disease and Dilated Cardiomyopathy are common heart diseases in canines and can lead to death. Unfortunately, there isn’t much an owner can do to keep their pup out of harm’s way. Unlike humans, a dog’s diet and exercise level do not play a major role in whether or not it will be diagnosed with heart disease, but there are treatments. Although medication isn’t a cure, it can certainly help level out your pet’s heart functions, however, the prognosis usually falls a little over a year after the onset of symptoms.

Look for the warning signs:

  • Breathing trouble
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Excessive coughing
  • Lack of interest in exercise and play

Next: Chances are you haven’t heard of this adrenal-based disease.

5. Addison’s disease

border collie on a couch under a blanket

Medication might be required. | Lindsay_Helms/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 5.9% of canine deaths

When your dog’s adrenal glands are under-functioning, a decrease in the essential mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids can lead to an onset of Addison’s disease. Yes, it can be deadly, but it’s also considered to be a rarity in dogs. Nevertheless, a urinalysis, blood count test, and complete lab tests will be necessary prior to a diagnosis. If you believe your dog is demonstrating symptoms of the disease, get to the veterinarian’s office immediately.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Lethargic behavior
  • Extreme lack of appetite
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss
  • Frequent thirst and urination

Next: Similar to autoimmune diseases in humans, dogs can die from this. 

4. Immune-mediated disease

sick dog under a blanket

It could be an emergency situation. | igorr1/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 7.6% of canine deaths

Immune-mediated disease in dogs occurs when the immune system attacks the central nervous system, killing off healthy red blood cells and causing various forms of anemia. The disease could stem from a variety of factors, such as ingredients in dog food, pollution, out of whack hormones, vaccinations, and even parasites. Regardless, get your pup to the vet if they display any symptoms.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy or weakness in the body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual accelerated breathing

Next: This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on where your dog wanders and what it eats.

3. Kidney failure

Happy vet holding french bulldog puppy

Dental disease is a top cause of kidney failure. | hedgehog94/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 8.2% of canine deaths

The balancing and filtering act played by the kidneys is the same in dogs as it is in humans. So when they begin to exhibit the symptoms of failure, typically by way ingesting toxic substances or bad food, there isn’t always a quick and easy fix. Unbeknownst to many, dental disease is the leading cause of kidney failure in canines. So maintaining healthy dental hygiene is crucial, in addition to minding what goes in their mouths. If you see any symptoms, get your furry friend to the veterinarian.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Chemical-smelling breath
  • Stumbling or drunk-like behavior
  • Depression
  • Ulcers in the mouth

Next: Over-eating can cause life-threatening complications. 

2. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus

Dog leaning away from vet

It’s also sometimes called a twisted stomach or bloat. | fotoedu/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 27.6% of canine deaths

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus typically occurs after a dog eats a large meal, causing the stomach to grow larger. As food and gases in the stomach expand, pressure builds but can’t be driven out. Other terms for the disease include bloat, stomach torsion, and twisted stomach. Inevitably, the body will begin to kill off cells in the tissues, creating a complete medical emergency. Older dogs, dogs with deeper chest cavities, and dogs who are fed one large meal every day are all at risk for the disease. Be sure to get your pooch to the veterinarian if they show any symptoms.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Ballooning abdomen
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inability to defecate
  • Anxious behavior or anxiously inspecting abdomen

Next: The number one dog-killer may have a cure. 

1. Cancer

sick dog lying down

Older dogs are more at risk. | sanjagrujic/iStock/Getty Images

  • Responsible for 37.1% of canine deaths

Even though cancer is the leading cause of canine deaths, many diagnoses are both treatable and curable. Once your dog reaches the age of 10, the risk factor of cancer will increase by 50 percent. Veterinarians see lymphoma, breast cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, and even soft cell sarcomas in dogs, so it’s crucial to pay attention to your older pups, and if you notice warning signs, get them to the vet.

Look for the warning signs: 

  • Lumps on the body
  • Wounds that can’t seem to heal
  • Any sort of lameness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
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