What is the most common cause of death in dogs? A Step-by-Step Guide

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease occurs when a dog’s kidneys no longer properly filter waste products from the blood or maintain necessary hydration. A telltale symptom of kidney disease in dogs is drastically increased water consumption – a sign that can be easy to missed. The Actijoy solution serves as pet owners first indication that something is amiss, and alerts the owner via the cellphone app anytime a deviation from the dog’s baseline behavior is detected.

Lyme Disease

Dogs can live with the tick-borne illness Lyme Disease for years without displaying any symptoms. However, Lyme Disease can cause serious health problems for your pet. Hard-to-detect symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, and pain. The Actijoy Health and Activity Dog Tracker will alert dog owners to decreased activity due to depression or pain, as well as changes in eating or drinking patterns. For dogs that are frequently outdoors, early detection of Lyme Disease is crucial.

The most common causes of death for puppies (dogs less than one year of age) by disease category are very different than for adult dogs. Puppies were overwhelmingly most likely to die of infection, trauma, or congenital disease. About 60 percent of all puppies died from something in these three disease categories.

Proper vaccination of puppies protects them from most infectious diseases, though frequent revaccination for viral diseases is unnecessary in adult dogs. Spayed females cannot get pyometra (uterine infection) and neutered males are less likely to develop prostate disease.

A new 20-year retrospective study from the University of Georgia examined causes of death in dogs between 1984 and 2004. Researchers looked at records of 74,566 dogs from the Veterinary Medical Database, which includes data from 27 veterinary teaching hospitals. These results may be biased toward more severe, complicated, or unusual causes than the general dog population, but are fascinating nonetheless.

Urogenital – Kidney disease, urinary stones, pyometra (infection of the uterus), and prostate disease. Stones are undoubtedly the major contributor to the Dalmatian’s 16 percent of deaths in this category, and probably a big part of the high rates in Lhasa Apsos, Shih Tzu, and Miniature Schnauzers as well.

Neurologic – Diseases of the brain and spinal cord, such as intervertebral disc disease (IDD or IVDD) that can cause paralysis; strokes; seizure disorders; degenerative myelopathy; myasthenia gravis; encephalitis; laryngeal paralysis; wobbler syndrome; syringomyelia (common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels); and tumors of the brain and spinal cord.


Nobody likes to think about the death of a pet. But if we understand what diseases are most likely to affect them, we can tailor their veterinary care to give them the best chance at a long and healthy life. Among

That’s the thinking behind a landmark study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine that looks at the causes of death by breed among nearly 75,000 dogs over a 20-year period.

The authors classified the deaths by organ system (for example, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal) and ailment type (e.g. infectious disease, trauma) for 82 breeds.

Here are the most common causes of death for some popular breeds, with organ system listed first, followed by type of ailment:

Larger breeds, they found, are more likely to die as a result of cancer, gastrointestinal disease and musculoskeletal disease (disease of the muscle or bone), while smaller breeds are more likely to die from Cushing’s disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

The study confirmed some conventional wisdom and offered up some surprises — find out what after the jump.

It’s commonly known that toy breeds such as Chihuahuas and Maltese tend to suffer from cardiovascular disease and Golden Retrievers and Boxers have high cancer rates, but the survey also revealed that Fox Terriers are prone to cardiovascular disease and Bouvier des Flandres have higher rates of cancer than Boxers.

The results are particularly helpful in shedding light on rare breeds like the Bouvier. “With rare breeds, an individual veterinarian may not see enough cases to be able to develop the opinion on whether the breed has a high incidence of conditions such as cancer,” coauthor Dr. Kate Creevy tells ScienceDaily.com. “But if you analyze records that have been compiled over 20 years, you can detect patterns that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.”

The authors write that their survey should be just the beginning of a broader understanding of the genetic basis of disease — and that they hope it will also help pet parents and veterinarians develop pet-care and disease-screening practices tailored to the individual pet.