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Common Diseases

As with us there are many diseases our pets can get and you should always seek the advice of your vet if you think your pet is ill. Here we will cover some of the most common diseases for dogs and cats.


Cancer is a disease that can be caused by one or many things.  Hereditary and environmental factors can also contribute to its development as well as breed type.  Prevention is obviously the most proactive thing you can do.  Learn about the breed you are looking to adopt or have - some breeds are more prone to certain types of cancer so do your homework and be prepared. Having your pet neutered can help reduce their chances of cancers related to reproduction such as breast and testicular cancers. Feeding your dog good quality food that is free from carcinogenics  and harmful additives, and supplementing their food with immunity boosters is also something to consider.  

There are many signs of cancer due to its nature, ranging from lumps, swelling and sores to black stools, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing.  Your vet is the only person qualified to advise you and carry out tests such as biopsies and x-rays.  Don’t wait….if you are concerned get your pet to the vet. Chances are it could be something easy to treat but delaying a diagnosis won’t help you or your pet.


Like us humans our pets can develop diabetes; a lack of the production of insulin in the body and like us they can suffer from Type I (lack of insulin production) and Type II (an impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone).  If your pet develops diabetes they will require medication to manage it.  Some signs of diabetes include weight loss, excessive thirst, unusually sweet-smelling breath, UTIs, lethargy or vomiting.  Although some forms of diabetes are inherited proper diet and regular exercise can go a long way to stave of the disease.  If you suspect your dog has diabetes seek vet advice as untreated it can cause cataracts, severe urine infections and ultimately, death.


As the name suggests, Heartworm is a parasite that eventually settles in the heart (and lungs) after travelling in the bloodstream for a few months. Dogs get Heartworm from infected mosquitoes who then bite the dog and as you know we live in a place with many mosquitoes.  Heartworm can be diagnosed by a vet via blood tests, x-rays/ultrasounds and an examination. Your dog must be screened before you administer any Heartworm medication. Now, some people are against Heartworm medication due to various side-effects and the fact that Heartworm is not VERY easy to contract.  There are alternatives to chemical medication to help prevent Heartworm such as DNA testing to check to see if they are susceptible, but we would highly recommend that a natural approach to improving your dog’s immunity by feeding a healthy diet and avoiding toxins in the environment (pesticides, household cleaners, fertilizers), some low grade foods and some vaccines. Without starting a vaccine debate we suggest you check information online, speak to your vet and other pet specialists before you make some decisions. You can also help by using a natural bug repellant to keep those mosquitoes away in the first place. Check out our own Petzacide for a great smelling and natural repellant.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a form of bronchitis and similar to a chest cold in humans.  It is also highly contagious to other dogs.  A dry and persistent cough is the main symptom but you may also notice gagging, coughing up foamy phlegm and a fever.  It’s called kennel cough as it breeds in more confined spaces and can be passed from dog to dog by proximity (airborne), sharing a contaminated item (e.g. food bowl), or simply meeting another dog.  Vaccinations are available for prevention and some kennels won’t accept dogs without proof of a vaccination, and of course not going near an infected dog. In most cases kennel cough will clear up within 3-6 weeks. If you suspect your dog has kennel cough isolate them from other dogs and see your vet as untreated it can lead to pneumonia.


This highly contagious viral disease can be life-threatening. It is not just contagious amongst pets but humans can also contract it. It is more likely to affect younger dogs with immature immunity systems and this is why vets will suggest they get their vaccination for this at a young age. Again, there are conflicting reports about a) the effectiveness of Parvo vaccinations and b) the need for them.  What is undisputed is that improving your pups immunity system is good for him in fighting off Parvo as well as many other diseases.  Build their immunity through careful socialization and a healthy diet and speak with animal specialists and your vet about the risk -v- reward with the vaccine.


Rabies is a viral disease that can effect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals.  It is usually caused by a bite from an infected animal and often this is a wild animal such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. So…the vaccine question rears its head again. In some places it’s the law for your dog to have a vaccine (this includes travelling to somewhere with this law).  If you want to travel or move to most parts of Ontario your pet must be vaccinated by law.  You may also find that some kennels also require up to date vaccines.  People take rabies seriously, mainly because humans can contract it, so think carefully about opting in or out of these vaccinations as the consequences are far more wide-reaching than just the illness.  Read, read, read and ask, ask, ask.  

We at PennyPetz are not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do but what we can tell you is that boosting your pet’s health through a great diet and boosting their immunity will help them live a healthier life and may even help them fight diseases. Who wouldn’t want that?

is better
than a
Educate yourself to
help make   decisions
Speak to your vet or trusted pet healthcare
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