Health Information

Dogs get sick.

Dogs get sick from parasites, viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and fungus.

In some cases, these diseases and infestations are fatal unless caught early and treated. Sometimes they sow the seeds of death or debilitation years down the road by causing chronic illness or damaging organs.

Fortunately, veterinary researchers have developed drugs and treatments that reduce the occurrence and effects of many diseases and parasites, but they do not eradicate the scoundrels – they only hold them at bay.

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

Here are a few of the most common diseases in dogs and simple ways to prevent them. As always, it is best to take your pet to your veterinarian annually for check-ups and annual vaccinations!

(2011). Dog Owner’s guide; Dog Diseases. Retrieved from: http://www.canismajor.com/dog/disease1.htm

Heartworms


Heartworm is a condition in dogs caused by a certain type of parasite. These parasites are transmitted to your pet through mosquitoes.

The moment heartworm-transmitting mosquitoes bite your dog, the larvae will be transferred into its bloodstream. It will incubate there for several days. That’s the on-start of the disease. If left ignored, the parasites will eventually cause your pet a lot of harm. As such, it has to be treated right away. This disease is called Heartworm because the parasites tend to invade the heart of dogs. The eggs are deposited into the bloodstream and are transported into the rest of the body until they reach the heart. Once the parasites find their way in the right ventricle, they will duplicate in number. Too many of them can cause an extreme hazard to the dog’s vital organs. As you very well know, failure of the heart may mean failure of the whole system.

Heartworm is a very serious disease that will kill your pet if left untreated.

Heartworm in dogs can be prevented in many ways. There are preventives in the form of injections and oral medicines. The injection is usually given to the dog on a monthly basis, quite diligently during the heartworm peak season. Examples of such vaccines are Ivermectin, Milbemycin, Lufenuron, and Selamectin. Talk to your vet as to how your dog can use these medicines to keep heartworm away from their system.

The initial symptom of heartworm is coughing. As the parasites find their way from the heart and into the lungs, it will cause a group of symptoms similar to a pulmonary disease like lung cancer. Hemoptysis and chest pain come along with it.

Heartworm can infect the rest of your dog’s vital organs, not just the heart and lungs. It can cause the veins to work abnormally and the liver to shut down its normal operation. There are many dogs that have died from heartworm.

Don’t let your dog be the next victim. With a simple monthly preventative, you can save your pet from this agonizing disease.

Provide your dog with the necessary care it needs.

Warning! This video is graphic.

(2011). Dog Heartworm Disease: What Is It?.Retrieved from: http://www.dogheartworm.org/


Intestinal Worms


Dogs and worms unfortunately go together like cake and ice cream. The reasons for this are twofold: first, dogs are omnivores. They will eat almost anything, including feces. Second, dogs are scavengers. If you are doubtful of this, just watch what happens the next time you let your dog out into the yard. Chances are, the first or second thing it will do is start sniffing around to see if it can find something to eat. And whatever it eats could easily be worm infested.

The best way to prevent your dog from contacting any kind of worm is to take it in for an annual exam. While you’re there, you can ask your vet to recommend a broad-spectrum preventive products. The newest of these products will protect your dog against heartworms, roundworms, whipworms, and even fleas.

Be sure to keep your dog flea free as it is only through fleas that your dog can contact tapeworms.

Try not to expose your dog to stray animals or wildlife, as they often carry fleas and other parasites. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your dog away from dog parks that are not well maintained, as these can be a source of parasites

Keep your dog from eating animal carcasses, such as those of birds, rodents and rabbits. These carcasses can carry immature worms that then mature into adult worms after your dog ingests them.

Don’t let your dog eat feces that are either his own or from other dogs or animals.

Inspect your dog’s anus and feces regularly and look for signs of tapeworms. As indicated above, tapeworm segments are small, wide and flat and resemble grains of rice.

Finally, have your veterinarian check the dog’s stool specimen when it has its annual checkup.

As you can see, there are a number of parasites that can infect your dog. This makes it doubly important that you take your dog in for a regular check up as this is the only way to make sure it remains parasite free.

(2011). Dog Worm Guide. A Complete Guide to Worms in Dogs. Retrieved from: http://www.wormsindogs.org/.

Fleas and Ticks


Fleas feed on blood and love to live on the bodies of your pets. The furry exterior of pets makes an ideal living place for the fleas without them being detected. Fleas not only suck blood from the pets which can ultimately lead to anemia, but fleas can also transmit diseases that can be very serious or even fatal. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to get rid of fleas from your pets before they infest your home or apartment, and your lawn.

The first step towards this is to comb pets with a flea comb regularly. PLace a small amount of petroleum jelly on the comb, which would result in the fleas sticking to the tines of the comb. Check for areas between the toes, behind the ears, armpits, and under the neck.

Putting a white paper or white towel under the dog or cat while combing it would make the fleas more visible. If you notice that black specks are falling off or getting stuck to the comb tines while combing then you will know for sure it’s fleas. Giving your pet regular baths would rid your pet of fleas unless the infestation is too large. Fleas cannot live in water, so bathing your pet is very important!

To help prevent fleas year round, talk to your vet about monthly flea and tick preventative. Topical treatments can purchased over the counter at pet stores and online pet websites. If you are interested in oral treatments, get suggestions from your vet about the best solution for your pet.

Benjamin, R.W..(2011). Fleas on Pets. Retrieved from: http://www.stopthefleas.com/fleas-on-pets.html.

Parvovirus


Canine parvovirus (CPV) disease is currently the most common infectious disorder of dogs in the United States.

Parvovirus is spread through contact with feces containing the virus. The virus is known to survive on inanimate objects – such as clothing, food pans, and cage floors – for 5 months and longer in the right conditions. Insects and rodents may also serve as vectors playing an important role in the transmission of the disease. This means any fecal material or vomit needs to be removed with a detergent before the bleach solution is used. The bleach solution should be used on bedding, dishes, kennel floors and other impervious materials that may be contaminated.

The normal incubation period (time from exposure to the virus to the time when signs of disease appear) is from 7-14 days. Virus can be found in the feces several days before clinical signs of disease appear, and may last for one to two weeks after the onset of the disease.

Vaccination protocols have been developed that will help protect the widest range of dogs. In using these protocols, we understand we will be vaccinating some dogs that are not capable of responding and we will be revaccinating some dogs that have already responded and developed a high titer. But without doing an individual test on each puppy, it is impossible to determine where the puppy is in its immune status. We also realize due to the window of susceptibility, some litters will contract parvovirus despite being vaccinated. By using quality vaccines and an aggressive vaccination protocol, we can make this window of susceptibility as small as possible. The generally recommended protocol is to vaccinate puppies against parvovirus beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, and revaccinating every 3 weeks until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age. A booster is given at one year of age and every 1-3 years thereafter.

Foster and Smith. (2011) Parvovirus. Serious Diarreah in Dogs and Puppies. Retrieved from: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1556&aid=467

Rabies


Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.

The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

Center for Disease Control. (2011). Rabies. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.
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