Dogs are pre-disposed to certain ailments or diseases simply due to characteristics of their breed. Some of these medical conditions have lasted through generations, and yet, researchers are still working to fully understand them. No matter what your dog’s age, size or breed, it’s always good to be aware of these common ailments and their prevention methods.

TOY & SMALL BREEDS: Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia may affect toy and small breeds including but not limited to Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Occurrence is most common during the puppy stage.

  • What is hypoglycemia?

    Hypoglycemia is a syndrome where dogs experience very low blood sugar levels.

  • How can I tell if my dog has hypoglycemia?

    Keep a close eye on your dog for symptoms including lethargy, staggering gait, muscle twitching and loss of appetite. Extreme drops in a dog’s blood sugar may also cause seizures.

  • How can hypoglycemia be prevented?

    As with all ailments, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for advice on how to properly manage your dog’s hypoglycemia.

Learn more about hypoglycemia in dogs at the Pet Health Network.

MEDIUM-SIZED BREEDS: Chronic Valvular Disease

Chronic valvular disease may affect medium-sized breeds including but not limited to Basset Hounds, Australian Shepherds and Dachshunds.

  • What is chronic valvular disease?

    Chronic valvular disease is characterized by gradual deterioration of the mitral valve, located between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart.

  • How can I tell if my dog has chronic valvular disease?

    Symptoms of chronic valvular disease in dogs include elevated blood pressure, difficulty breathing (especially after sleep or exercise), coughing, lethargy, and weight loss

  • How can chronic valvular disease be managed?

    Keeping your dog fit and at a healthy weight is helpful. Early detection and treatment can also help slow the progression of chronic valvular disease, so make sure you make regular visits to your veterinarian.

Learn more about chronic valvular disease on WebMD Pets.

LARGE BREEDS: Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia may affect breeds including but not limited to Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies.

  • What is hip dysplasia?

    Hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder that causes malformation and degeneration of the coxofemoral joints. It can lead to intense pain and osteoarthritis in your dog.

  • How can I tell if my dog has hip dysplasia?

    The major symptom of hip dysplasia in dogs is rear leg lameness. The best way to determine if your dog has hip dysplasia, however, is to have your veterinarian conduct an examination and take a radiograph.

  • How can hip dysplasia be prevented?

    Because hip dysplasia is a hereditary disorder, it can be difficult to avoid. To decrease the risk of pain associated with hip dysplasia, commit to keeping your dog fit by exercising moderately and maintaining a lean body condition. You can also reduce the risk of your puppy developing hip dysplasia in later years by feeding him lean throughout his growth period.

Learn more about hip dysplasia at PetCare Rx.


Bloat may affect breeds including but not limited to Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands.

  • What is bloat?

    The technical term for bloat is gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). It is a result of gas accumulation in a dog’s stomach that can cause it to rotate or twist on its axis.

  • How can I tell if my dog has bloat?

    Symptoms of bloat in dogs include retching, attempts to vomit, pacing and a distended abdomen. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, especially after he’s eaten, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • How can bloat be prevented?

    There are a number of theories surrounding the cause and prevention of bloat, but one prevention method that has gained traction is feeding smaller meals frequently throughout the day. Avoiding exercise after eating or drinking and slowing the rate of eating are also recommended.

Learn more about bloat on WebMD Pets.