Incurable Dog Diseases

An incurable disease is not necessarily a fatal one.
An incurable disease is not necessarily a fatal one. (Image: Dog image by Istoria13 from <a href=''></a>)

Although veterinary medicine has become very advanced and offers many of the same diagnostic tools and treatment options as human medicine, there are still some canine diseases that can't be cured. Some are fatal, while others are chronic conditions that can be managed. Even some minor diseases can be treated but not cured, although your dog will live a normal life span with the condition. In most cases, the symptoms can be treated and managed to make your dog more comfortable, even if the disease itself can't be stopped.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Ticks can spread Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, two incurable microorganism infections. That said, many dogs that harbor these organisms never get sick because the organisms remain in a dormant state and never cause an active infection. Treatment involves medication that doesn't eradicate the organisms but puts them into a dormant state in 90 percent of dogs, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.


Allergies can't be cured but can be managed by eliminating or reducing your dog’s exposure to an allergen. For some allergies, this can be as simple as switching your dog’s food or getting rid of a certain tree in your yard. Some allergens can't be avoided, however. For example, some dogs are allergic to cockroach saliva. Even if no cockroaches are present, the residue of their saliva might be. These dogs are best served with a series of desensitizing injections.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is a hereditary condition caused by an overpopulation of mites naturally found on your dog’s skin. A series of dips or injections can reduce the population to manageable levels but will never eradicate them.


Rabies is untreatable and results in death within ten days of the onset of symptoms. Happily, you can easily prevent rabies by keeping your dog’s rabies vaccination up-to-date and limiting his exposure to wildlife that could possible harbor the disease.


Parvovirus and distemper are the two most-feared viruses among pet owners because of their severity and poor prognosis. The truth is, there is no medication that will kill a virus of any kind. The best your vet can do is boost your dog’s immune system so it can effectively fight the virus itself.


Cancer can't be cured, but some types can be sent into remission, although there's always the risk they can recur. Standard cancer treatment protocol includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to slow tumor growth and provide meaningful pain relief. Many dogs do very well with this regimen. Many dog owners find that blending holistic remedies with Western medicine can increase the life span and comfort of their dogs.


Diabetes is incurable in dogs but can be managed with insulin, proper diet, and weight control. Although it may take awhile for your vet to get your dog's glucose levels under control during the initial dosing phase, many dogs live completely normal lives with proper treatment.

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