I. Canine parvovirus
What is canine parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV2, colloquially Parvo) is a contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. The disease is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination. It has two distinct presentations, a cardiac and intestinal form. The common signs of the intestinal form are severe vomiting and dysentery. The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies. Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalization. Vaccines can prevent this infection, but mortality can reach 91% in untreated cases. Canine parvovirus will not infect humans.
How can I prevent parvovirus?
Prevention is the only way to ensure that a puppy or dog remains healthy because the disease is extremely virulent and contagious. The virus is extremely hardy and has been found to survive in feces and other organic material such as soil for over a year. It survives extremely cold and hot temperatures. The only household disinfectant that kills the virus is bleach. However, dogs and cats are very sensitive to bleach, so this cleaner must be used moderately.
Puppies are generally vaccinated in a series of doses, extending from the earliest time that the immunity derived from the mother wears off until after that passive immunity is definitely gone. Older puppies (16 weeks or older) are given 3 vaccinations 3 to 4 weeks apart. The duration of immunity of vaccines for CPV2 has been tested for all major vaccine manufacturers in the United States and has been found to be at least three years after the initial puppy series and a booster 1 year later.
What is Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in warm-blooded animals. It is zoonotic (i.e., transmitted by animals), most commonly by a bite from an infected animal.
Rabies is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever and general weakness or discomfort.
In the USA, since the widespread vaccination of domestic dogs and cats and the development of effective human vaccines and immunoglobulin treatments, the number of recorded deaths from rabies has dropped from one hundred or more annually in the early 20th century, to 1–2 per year.
III. Kennel Cough – Bordetella
What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough is a highly contagious canine illness characterized by inflammation of the upper respiratory system. It can be caused by viral infections such as canine distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus, or canine respiratory coronavirus, or bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is so named because the infection can spread quickly among dogs, such as in the close quarters of a kennel.
Both viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough are spread through the air by infected dogs sneezing and coughing. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact. It is highly contagious, even days or weeks after symptoms disappear. Symptoms begin usually 3 to 5 days after exposure. The disease can progress to pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of kennel cough?
Symptoms can include a harsh, dry hacking/coughing, retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting in response to light pressing of the trachea or after excitement or exercise. The presence of a fever varies from case to case. The disease can last initially from 10-20 days and can rebreak when the dog is put into a stressful situation which puts stress on the dog's immune system. Diagnosis is made by seeing these symptoms; having a history of exposure is also helpful but not always found, as kennel cough is easily spread through contact with contaminated surfaces such as the ground, toys, and sidewalks.
Antibiotics are given to treat any bacterial infection present. Cough suppressants are used if the cough is not productive (nothing is being coughed up).
The best prevention is to vaccinate for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella. In kennels, the best prevention is to keep all the cages disinfected. Most kennels will not board dogs without proof of vaccination.
IV. Canine distemper
What is canine distemper?
Canine distemper is a viral disease that is most commonly associated with domestic animals such as dogs and ferrets, although it can infect wild animals as well. It is a single-stranded RNA virus of the family paramyxovirus, and thus a close relative of measles. Puppies from three to six months old are particularly susceptible.
Canine distemper virus (CDV) spreads through aerosol droplets and through contact with infected bodily fluids including nasal and ocular secretions, feces, and urine 6-22 days after exposure. It can also be spread by food and water contaminated with these fluids. The time between infection and disease is 14 to 18 days, although there can be a fever from three to six days postinfection.
What are the symptoms of canine distemper?
Infection may or may not be accompanied by anorexia, a runny nose, and discharge from the eye.
This first round of fever typically recedes rapidly within 96 hours, and then a second round of fever begins around the 11th or 12th day and lasts at least a week.
Gastrointestinal and respiratory problems tend to follow, which may become complicated with secondary bacterial infections. Commonly observed signs are a runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, excessive salivation, coughing and/or labored breathing, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Infected animals should be quarantined from other dogs for several months due to the length of time the animal may shed the virus.
There are a number of vaccines against canine distemper for dogs and domestic ferrets, which are mandatory for pets in many jurisdictions.
V. Heartworm Disease
What are heartworms?
Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm (Dirofilaria immitis) that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. The heartworm is a type of filaria, a small thread-like worm. The definitive host is the dog but it can also infect cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other animals, such as ferrets, sea lions and even, under very rare circumstances, humans.
The parasite is commonly called "heartworm"; however, that is a misnomer because the adult actually resides in the pulmonary arterial system (lung arteries) for the most part, and the primary menace to the health of the animal is a manifestation of damage to the lung vessels and tissue. Occasionally, adult heartworms migrate to the right heart and even the great veins producing heavy infections. Heartworm infection may result in serious disease or death for the host.
What are the symptoms of heartworms?
Dogs show no indication of heartworm infection during the 6-month-long prepatent period prior to the worms' maturation, and current diagnostic tests for the presence of microfilariae or antigens cannot detect prepatent infections.
Many dogs will show little or no sign of infection even after the worms become adults. In the most advanced cases where many adult worms have built up in the heart without treatment, signs progress to severe weight loss, fainting, coughing up blood and, finally, congestive heart failure.
Prevention of heartworm infection can be obtained through a number of veterinary drugs, usually administered as pills or chewable tablets once every month.
Some dogs may be sensitive to certain types of heart worm medication. When you visit Baldwin Animal Clinic, we will help you determine which USDA approved brand against heartworm is best for your pet.
VI. Canine Influenza
What is canine influenza?
Canine influenza (dog flu) is influenza occurring in canines. Canine influenza is caused by varieties of Influenzavirus A, such as equine influenza virus H3N8, which in 2004 was discovered to cause disease in dogs. Because of the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity to this virus. Therefore, the disease is rapidly transmitted between individual dogs.
Canine influenza may be endemic in some regional dog populations of the United States. It is a disease with a high morbidity but a low mortality. The incubation period is two to five days and viral shedding may occur for seven to ten days following the onset of symptoms.
What are the symptoms of canine influenza?
Symptoms of the mild form include a cough that lasts for ten to thirty days and possibly a greenish nasal discharge. Dogs with the more severe form may have a high fever and pneumonia. Pneumonia in these dogs is not caused by the influenza virus, but by secondary bacterial infections.
The fatality rate of dogs that develop pneumonia secondary to canine influenza can reach 50 percent if not given proper treatment.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) approved the first canine influenza vaccine in June, 2009 and it is available at our practice.
VII. Lyme Disease
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks to dogs, as well as to other animals and people. Most Lyme disease in the United States is spread by the deer tick. Although Lyme disease is not highly prevalent in our area, vaccines are available upon request for pets that will be travelling to areas where Lyme disease occurs more frequently.
What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
While many dogs will not show any outward signs of illness, the most common visible symptoms of Lyme disease are arthritis and lameness due to painful joints. Dogs may also experience fever, loss of appetite, and loss of energy. Symptoms – when they do appear – may come and go, vary in severity, and can sometimes be mistaken for those of other conditions. Generally speaking, puppies are more likely to exhibit symptoms than adult dogs.
How serious is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease can be quite serious if left untreated. In most severe cases, Lyme disease can lead to heart disease, central nervous system disorders, or even fatal kidney disease.