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Guide to dog diseases

Dogs get sick from parasites, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungus. In some cases, these diseases and infestations are fatal unless caught early and treated.

Rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and coronavirus are major viral diseases affecting dogs. Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and a type of kennel cough are bacterial diseases.

Not Only Dogs with Diseases

These infections are not limited to dogs and are found in other animal populations. Rabies, Lyme, and lepto also infect people. Each of these diseases can be prevented by judicious vaccination of puppies and adult dogs.

For example with parvovirus, distemper develops over a course of days, but parvovirus can overwhelm a dog within hours of the first symptoms and result in death within 48-72 hours.

It is found throughout the world and parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that attacks the intestinal tract, the white blood cells, and sometimes the heart.

It is spread through contact with the feces of infected dogs and can be carried on shoes, crates, equipment, or on the hair or feet of infected dogs.

Symptoms of parvovirus appear five-to-seven days after exposure and include depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and severe diarrhoea. Feces are generally light grey or yellow-grey and may be streaked with blood.

Puppy Diseases...

Puppies under the age of six months are most susceptible to the disease. If the virus attacks the heart, puppies can die within hours or live for a few weeks or months.

Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers appear to be at higher risk for parvovirus than other breeds. As with distemper, there is no treatment that kills the virus.

Instead, nursing care consists of replacing fluids lost in diarrhoea and vomiting, keeping the dog warm, controlling vomiting and diarrhoea, and dosing with antibiotics to prevent secondary infection.

Researchers are designing and conducting studies to determine true protection levels for various vaccines.

The guidelines also note that dogs vaccinated against parvovirus and hepatitis did not develop these diseases when challenged up to seven years after inoculation.

Vaccinate to prevent Dog Diseases

Dog owners obviously face some choices when deciding on a vaccination program for their pets and show dogs. There’s no doubt that serious diseases such as distemper and parvovirus are best prevented because many victims die and those that live can face lifelong health problems.

Owners must weigh the consequences for each of their dogs, ask questions, discuss alternatives with their veterinarians, and decide accordingly.