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Dog Disease Questions

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is simply inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye (the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and continues over the front part of the eyeball). When this tissue is infected, the eyes burn and become red and runny (hence the nickname “pinkeye”). There are many causes of conjunctivitis–many types of bacteria can get into the eye and cause infection.

This is a condition that can become serious, if the infection isn’t treated and it grows out of control. In a worst-case scenario, the eye could be damaged enough by the bacteria to cause blindness. So if your pet’s eyes seem infected or inflamed, take him to the veterinarian for an exam.

Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and/or other eye treatments, and you’ll need to be sure to follow all the instructions for administering them. With a little help from you and your veterinarian, however, your pet with conjunctivitis can soon feel good as new.

What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a dangerous virus that attacks dogs’ intestinal tracts. It can cause severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and electrolyte imbalances and can lead to severe dehydration, a buildup of toxins or poisons in the bloodstream, and eventually death. When puppies under 12 weeks old are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems. Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object that comes in contact with a infected dog’s feces. The virus can survive extreme heat and cold for long periods of time, and may remain alive on a surface long after the feces has been removed.

There are many ways you can protect your dog from parvovirus. Most veterinarians recommend multiple vaccinations for growing puppies. As dogs get older, their immunity is maintained with annual booster shots. Use a solution of one part bleach to thirty parts water to clean areas frequented by other dogs, and use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you’ve walked through an infected area.

If your dog experiences vomiting, severe diarrhea, depression, or loss of appetite, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Though there are presently no drugs to kill the virus, there are treatments proven to control its symptoms.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine distemper is a member of the paramyxovirus class. It is spread from dog to dog in secretions like saliva, urine and tears. It affects a variety of systems within the dog, such as the immune system (by suppressing the ability to make white blood cells and fight off infection), the central nervous system (resulting in seizures and erratic behavior), the gastrointestinal system (resulting in vomiting and diarrhea), and the respiratory system (resulting in coughing). In short, canine distemper is a very nasty little virus.

Classically, however, canine distemper affects puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated against it. Most dogs are presented to the veterinarian for depression, lethargy and thick green eye discharge. Some dogs will come in for seizures. Dogs that recover initially from the disease may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders later in their old age.


My ten year old dog is suffering from arthritis in her back hips. What can I do to make her more comfortable?

If you haven’t already, you should take your dog to your veterinarian to find out if there are any medications that may help her with the discomfort and muscle strength in her back legs and/or lower back. Your veterinarian can recommend products to help keep her joints flexible and painkillers that should relieve her discomfort. If she is carrying any extra weight, getting her to lose even a few pounds may make a big difference in her comfort level and ability to get around. It may also help to provide a soft surface for your dog to sleep on.

Stroke and Blood Clots

What treatments are recommended for dogs that have had a stroke or have blood clots?

The typical stroke that strikes humans has only been seen in dogs in extremely rare cases. Though they’re rare, however, blood clots and other kinds of blockage can occur in any organ or other body part. (The term “stroke” refers to a blockage of the arteries in any part of the body, not just in the brain.)

The specific treatment for a blocked artery would depend upon a number of factors, including where the blockage is, how serious it is and the dog’s overall physical health. Your veterinarian should be able to diagnose your pet and advise you on any appropriate treatment.


Information courtesy of The American Animal Hospital Association