These 14 Dog Diseases Show No Physical Symptoms, But Deadly

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Dogs can get sick anywhere, anytime. Is it always that you get knocked with symptoms? No. Not all dog diseases carry physical symptoms, that you can easily identify and rush to a vet.

An investigation made on the sudden death of dogs, as per Canadian Veterinarian Journal, on a 6-year-old, male, Shetland sheepdog who died suddenly. The study showed that cardiac tamponade, sudden compression of heart was the reason behind an asymptomatic death.

Another study by Purdue University, Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, nine cases of sudden death due to a traumatic incident, the dog owners were unaware. Twenty-two sudden death cases due to Gastrointestinal disease, six cases of chemical exposure to toxins, and five for respiratory illness.

Do you think, had the dog owners been aware of the disease, wouldn’t they move to a vet for treatment? No, because they couldn’t know what was happening inside their pet. Everything that seems normal, that isn’t!

Here, we are to know certain dog diseases, that are so deadly that, it kills a dog without whispering. Until, it’s too late, wake up!

14 Dog Diseases that Show No Symptoms(Asymptomatic):

1. Rhabdomyosarcoma:

Rhabdomyosarcomas is a cancerous tumor. It is truly dangerous, deadly, aggressively spreads, forming multiple chains around the body.

It is found in larynx (voice box), tongue, and heart. The tumor spreads across lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, and the adrenal glands.

It kills without even whispering. Only sincere dog owners can save who go for regular vet checks. For complete physical examination.

The disease is so invasive and expansive that, even surgical removal of tumor is not possible. Simply cutting out limbs and organs, is like chopping your dog into pieces. Not at all a solution.

Radiotherapy may be helpful, although not guaranteed.

Prevention is the only solution. Schedule vet checks every three to six months, the only possible way.

2. Tear in Atrial Wall:

A dog’s heart has four chambers. Two upper; atria and Two lower; ventricles.

The upper chamber, i.e. atrial wall tears, maybe due to any reason like trauma or other causes. Often, the body’s protective mechanism heals it.

However, if the tear is significant, it can cause heavy internal bleeding. And lead to sudden death.

This can happen with dogs of any age, size, breed, or gender.

In some cases, dogs may suffer difficult breathing and fainting.

Complete physical examination, blood tests, urinalysis, X-rays, ECGs, and history of symptoms, can detect the atrial tear.

In severe cases, surgery is the only treatment. However, the outcome is unfortunate. Your dog needs a long rest and care to avoid complications.

But, the bitter truth is, chances of long-term survival are low. A regular visit to vets, evaluations, rest, and diet guidelines can help.

3. Hydrocephalus:

Hydrocephalus is the abnormal expansion of ventricles(hollow structure that connects brain with spinal cord). It affects one or both sides of the brain. Due to spinal fluid, passing through ventricles, into the brain, from the spinal cord.

These are of two types:- obstructive and compensatory. Both happen at birth or at any age.

It happens with all dog breeds, most apparently in adult beagles. Often clinical symptoms are not found with the disease.

If undetected, it can cause blindness, coma, or sudden death.

Moreover, physical examination, blood profile, health history can help trace the problem. While Skull radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging helps find the exact problem.

In severe cases, surgery is the only treatment. Moreover, the success rate depends upon the disease severity and post-surgery care.

4. Asystole:

Also known as Ventricular standstill. Ventricles stop rhythmic patterns. Stops pumping blood from the heart to other body parts.

It causes heart blockage, and sudden cardiac arrest in dogs. Also causes brain injury, if not restored within 3-4 minutes.

Momentary heart stops cause sudden death, with no symptoms beforehand. although fainting can also be a part.

Upon finding any problems like arrhythmia, consult a vet. Your veterinarian will examine through dog’s health history, prior symptoms related to heart. Physical examination like an electrocardiogram may be done.

In emergency cases, cardiopulmonary resuscitation(chest compression) will bring back the heartbeat. Even this won’t be a permanent solution. Your dog may undergo cardiac arrest again.

5. Papilledema:

An eye disease in dogs and cats. It swells(fully or partially) optic nerve within retina. Swelling can increase pressure in brain.

Your dog may find it difficult to understand things. Because retina is unable to send information to the brain.

You can trace this out, if your dog finds it difficult to catch things. Sometimes fear. Sometimes aggressive.

If the problem moves up to the brain. dogs become anorexic(eating disorder) and lethargic(weakness).

Canine distemper(a viral infection), toxoplasmosis(parasitic disease), tumors, fungal infections are some of the causes.

Papilledema is difficult to diagnose. Initial tests include detecting fungal or viral infections.

It involves treatment thorugh medication. Some pets may or may not respond. As swelling of the optic nerve is too serious and life-threatening.

6. Edema:

There is a gap/space between tissues or organs in a body. Edema is the filling of these gaps with tissues. It happens due to the swelling of tissues, due to the accumulation of fluid inside it.

Dog breeds like Bulldog, Old English Sheepdog, Poodle, and Labrador Retriever are mostly affected.

Particularly, edema is the result of a series of diseases. Like allergies, cardiac, toxicity, infectious, poisonous spiders, licks, and even trauma like car accidents.

It is difficult to detect edema until it develops fully. Physical examination like fine-needle aspiration, biopsy, urine analysis detects the problem.

There is no direct treatment for edema. Medications can treat the originating causes we discussed above.

If unresolved, amputation(removal of body parts) is the only way. A harsh truth!.

7. Physalopterosis: 

Physalopterosis is a stomach worm infection. It is caused by parasite called Physaloptera spp. No age! no breed! no gender-specific! Infects all.

It is typically caused in pets, who intake infective larvae, that inhabit hosts like grubs, beetles, cockroaches. Moreover, ingesting frogs, snake, lizards can cause the same.

Astonishingly, it is asymptomatic(showing no physical symptoms). Everything happens inside the body. However, worms can be detected when dog vomits, if you can keenly observe.

Therefore, keep a vigil eye when your dog moves outdoors.

Endoscopic gastroscopy is the primary method to identify Physalopterosis. In most cases, medications are successful to kill worms.

Moreover, regularly visiting vets, following instructions, and limiting outdoor access recovers in a short span.

8. Atlantoaxial instability:

Atlantoaxial instability is the abnormal growth of the first two vertebrae, in the neck of animals. That makes the spinal cord heavy. It compresses and results in pain. Sometimes weakness in pets.

Commonly found in smaller dogs. Rarely in older or large breeds.

As per PetMD health library, it affects both dogs and cats. Dogs suffer severe pain, on the neck and back. Also, cause fractures. Even paralyze.

Accidents, jumping from tall structures are some of the causes of Atlantoaxial instability.

If your dog suffering from neck and back pain. Take him to a vet. Just treat him at the time of occurrence. It may involve surgery. This ensures full recovery.

9. Seminoma:

Seminoma is a testicle tumor. One of the most common tumors in the dog’s testis. Typically, it affects older dogs.

The tumor is less than two centimeters in diameter. So, difficult to identify. Also, affected dogs show no clinical symptoms.

However, the growing tumor causes pain in some. So, you may know something is wrong. Moreover, in rare cases, it can be fatal. The tumor spreads to other body parts.

This happens when one or both testicles fail to enter the scrotum. This phenomenon is called cryptorchidism.

Physical examination is the only way to find. Not done by you, but veterinarians. Some common tests like urinalysis, blood count, or ultrasound can detect the problem. And tissue biopsy for deeper evaluation.

The tumor often turns cancerous. Thus, removal is the only way. In severe cases, chemotherapy may be recommended, by a veterinarian.

10. Ventricular Fibrillation:

Ventricular Fibrillation is a condition in which ventricles(blood flowing channel from heart to body) contracts/shrinks.

It suddenly stops blood flow. Causes cardiac arrest in minutes.

It can affect dogs of any age. Seems to be severe in older dogs.

Dogs suffering from cardiac arrhythmia, undergone heart surgery, drug reactions, shock, etc are some of the causes.

Routine laboratory tests like ECG can identify the problem. Aggressive treatment like electrical cardioversion(electrical shocks) can restore heart functionality.

However, you would be lucky to reach hospital before time. As dogs die within minutes of cardiac arrest.

11. Supraventricular Tachycardia:

Supraventricular Tachycardia is a condition in which heartbeat abnormally increases. Astonishingly, when your dog is at rest. No signs and warning

Excessively high can lead to heart muscle failure and sudden death. As it shows no clinical signs.

This may develop due to genetic tendency and the reason may be unknown.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) recording can be used to examine electric currents in heart muscles. It reveals the underlying abnormalities.

Upon getting signs of cognitive heart failure, hospitalize your pet immediately. Performing precordial thump is successful in 90% of cases. All as per your vets’ recommendation.

Besides medication, feed low sodium diet to avoid risk.

12. Haemobartonellosis:

Haemobartonellosis is caused by parasite M. haemocanis, which directly infects red blood cells. You know, the oxygen carriers.

As a result, red blood cells die, causes severe anemia (lacking hemoglobin).

Astonishingly, dog shows no signs of illness or symptoms. The parasite is so strong that, it resists antibiotics, and survive without oxygen. A greater challenge to detect and treat. Also, this disease is communicable to other dogs.

Moreover, if you had your dog’s spleen removed, no cleaning of damaged red blood cells. As a result, the parasite has a stronger hold on the body. Also, urinary tract infections and pneumonia are a part of the disease.

Ticks and fleas are the primary carries of M. haemocanis parasite. While the vet has to carry a complete blood chemical profile to detect the disease.

On early detection of this disease, dogs are more likely to cure of antibiotics. When this disease goes long, blood transfusion is the final stop. Or else, death.

You must have your dogs checked every week to check mycoplasma levels. Most importantly, avoid breeding of these affected dogs.

13. Encephalitozoonosis:

Caused by protozoal parasitic called E. cuniculi. The infection causes injury/lesions in lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain.

It is rare in dogs as it mostly affects rabbits. But, animals that lick/sniff the spore-infected urine of another animal. the parasite enters through mouth or nose.

Greater risk to dogs that are kenneled, or move outdoors. It can be as severe as kidney failure. Especially, the disease is fatal in puppies.

In severe cases, adult dogs may suffer complete blindness. Dogs are likely to recover themselves at early stages.

However, if the disease becomes severe, infects brain and kidney, dogs may need various supportive therapy and fungicidal drug

Again, Encephalitozoonosis is zoonotic(transmits from animals to humans) in people having weak immunity.

14. Prostatomegaly:

Prostatomegaly is a medical condition in which prostate gland abnormally grows large. The entire process is completely asymptomatic(shows no symptoms).

The prostate enlargement creates pre-cancerous cells, that spread the entire body.

If you have your dog testicles removed(castrated dogs), the risk is even larger.

Initial physical examination, ultrasound, complete blood profile, urinalysis, etc determines whether the infection grows cancerous or not.

Medications, External beam radiotherapy and in extreme conditions surgical removal of parts, maybe the final option to stop spreading cancer.


You cannot sit resting on the couch and playing with your pet, thinking everything is fine.

Thus, regular full body health checkup, every three or six months, is the only way to trace the beginning of a camouflaged disease.

As well, close monitoring when your dog is outdoors. They may not always come alone.



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