Dogs are susceptible to a range of diseases and health conditions, many of which can be prevented with proper care. As a responsible fur parent, you must be aware of the most common diseases that affect dogs so you can take steps to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.
This post discusses the five most common diseases dogs can acquire throughout their lifetime.
1. Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus, or “parvo” as it is commonly called, is a highly contagious viral disease affecting any age, but puppies are most susceptible. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract, leading to severe dehydration, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. If left untreated, parvo can be fatal.
There is a vaccine available to protect canines from this disease, and it is important to ensure your dog is up-to-date on their shots. The first vaccination should be given at around 6-8 weeks of age, and a booster is administered every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old.
Signs may include:
- Loss of appetite
2. Canine Distemper
This deadly disease is caused by viruses that affect dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Keep in mind that puppies and young dogs are most prone to this disease as they have not yet built up immunity. The disease is transferred through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected animal.
You should have your pets vaccinated against canine distemper beginning at 6-8 weeks, followed by booster shots every 3-4 weeks until the age of 16 weeks old. Also, adult dogs must be vaccinated against this disease every year or two.
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Loss of appetite
In the later stage of canine distemper, you may see:
Canine distemper can be deadly if left untreated, so it’s important to seek medical attention for your pet as soon as possible if you notice any of the above symptoms.
3. Kennel Cough
This highly contagious respiratory infection affects dogs of all ages but is most common in puppies and young adults. Your dog can acquire kennel cough after exposure to respiratory secretions from an infected animal. This disease usually comes out in the form of a “kennel cough,” a hacking or dry cough that your dog may have after being in contact with other dogs.
Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date to protect them from this disease. If your pet is usually around other dogs (such as at a boarding kennel), ask the vet about giving them a booster shot of Bordetella – a vaccine specifically for kennel cough.
Signs and symptoms of kennel cough include:
- Dry or wet coughing
- Nasal discharge
- Loss of appetite
Take your animal companion to the vet as soon as possible if they’re showing any of these signs. Kennel cough is usually not fatal, but it can become more severe if left untreated.
4. Intestinal Worms
Intestinal worms are parasites living in the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and can cause various health problems. These parasites are typically transmitted to dogs through contaminated food or water or contact with infected feces.
The most common intestinal worm types are roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Symptoms of an intestinal worm infection may include:
- Weight loss
- Pot-bellied appearance
If left untreated, these parasites may result in more serious health problems such as anemia or organ damage. In this case, your vet will refer you to an internist vet who can provide more specialized care.
Intestinal worms are easily preventable using monthly heartworm prevention medication, which also protects against other types of parasites. If your pet is not on monthly prevention, ask your vet about the best way to deworm them.
Rabies is a virus affecting the nervous system and is fatal if left untreated. It is typically transmitted through an infected animal’s bite. However, infected animals can also transfer it through contact with saliva or other body fluids.
In the United States, rabies is most commonly found in wild animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Dogs can also contract rabies if they are not vaccinated against it.
The symptoms of rabies vary depending on the stage of the disease, but they may include:
- Hydrophobia (fear of water)
- Aerophobia (fear of air)
You must seek medical attention immediately from a reputable vet facility, such as Rocklin Road Animal Hospital if you think your dog has been exposed to rabies. There is no cure for rabies, but there are treatments available that can help your dog.
Up-to-date vaccinations are the only best way to prevent it. If your dog is not vaccinated and they are exposed to the virus, they need to be quarantined for six months to prevent the spread of the disease.
Many different health problems can affect dogs, but some of the most common include allergies, arthritis, cancer, kennel cough, intestinal worms, and rabies. Vaccinations play a crucial role in preventing these illnesses and taking them to the vet for regular check-ups. If you believe your dog is sick, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can often improve your dog’s prognosis.
Also, if you usually bring your dog to a boarding facility, ask the staff about their vaccinations and disease prevention policies. If you visit their website, check their boarding page for this information. Doing your research ahead of time will help you choose a reputable boarding facility that takes the safety and health of the guests seriously. It’s also a good idea to bring along a copy of your dog’s medical records in case they need to be seen by a vet while you are away.