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What are the Most Common Types of Pet Diseases?

By Erin Oxendine
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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There are many different kinds of pet diseases, most of which are very harmful to an animal's health. Some of the most common types of pet diseases are parasitic conditions, cancer, and bacterial infections. These illnesses may cause the animal to suffer and sometimes are even fatal. Inside pets as well as outside animals can be affected and diseases are not limited to any particular species.

Parasites are one of the top causes of pet ailments and often do not show any symptoms until the pet gets very sick. Worms such as heartworms and hookworms typically appear in dogs but can show up in other animals. Heartworms are the most aggressive parasites and thought to be transmitted by mosquitoes. The worms usually develop in the heart and lungs and constrict the muscles. Dogs may have symptoms such as coughing, fatigue, and respiratory issues and can die if not treated.

Cancer is also another pet disease and occurs mostly in older dogs and cats. The majority of the time, canines are more likely to get cancer then felines. Just like humans, dogs can get cancer of the prostate, kidneys, and spleen. Older dogs are also more likely to be diagnosed with malignant tumors under the skin and in the organs. Among cats, lymphosarcoma is the most widespread type of cancer and shows up predominately in the blood cells and lymph nodes.

Indoor pets such as fish and turtles are also susceptible to getting pet diseases. These types of pets tend to carry bacterial and fungal infections. Sometimes this is because of improper cleaning of the aquariums or bad filtration systems. Unfortunately, pet turtles can also develop a highly dangerous bacteria called Salmonella, which may make the owner very sick if transmitted.

Parrots and parakeets sometimes can be infected with pet diseases. These birds can get infections that affect their feathers, eyes, and beaks. One illness is Polyomavirus, which has a variety of symptoms including diarrhea, changes in appetite, and abnormal tail feathers.

As a word of caution, pet owners should be diligent in taking steps to try to prevent pet diseases. Pet areas should always be kept clean from dirt and animal waste. If the animal does get sick, owners should take their pets to a veterinarian. The veterinarian can conduct a physical examination and may order blood tests to determine the cause of the illness. The doctor might prescribe medication or keep the animal overnight if necessary.

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Discussion Comments
By browncoat — On May 05, 2014

@KoiwiGal - Shelters are often paragons of pet health, if they are run correctly, and pet owners could take a few lessons from them. dog diseases and cat diseases are usually picked up through contact with other infected animals, so keeping your animals supervised at all times is a good idea, as is constant, thorough disinfecting of items like litter boxes and food bowls.

By KoiwiGal — On May 04, 2014

@irontoenail - It's easy to treat compared with some, but I imagine it would be almost impossible to eliminate from a shelter, because it's a fungal infection and spores can live a long time. Those poor kitties would just end up infecting every other animal in the shelter and some of the ones with their own problems could get seriously ill.

Shelters often have this kind of policy when it comes to highly contagious diseases. One of the worst things I can remember experiencing was when the local pound ended up with one of the very contagious dog diseases and ended up having to put down every dog and puppy in the place to try and contain it. Unfortunately, they have to take the future of their shelter into account. They can't save individuals at the risk of killing all the others.

By irontoenail — On May 03, 2014

The disease that I remember the best from my childhood was ringworm. We were the kind of kids who were constantly bringing home strays and abandoned kittens and we all picked up ringworm a couple of times.

Apparently it's not quite so common now, but the last time I was at the shelter I noticed that there was a little batch of kittens that had been covered and asked about them. They basically said that they had ringworm and were going to be destroyed because they can't place animals with that kind of disease. I was pretty shocked, because I would have thought, of all cat diseases, it was fairly innocuous and easy to treat.

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