Protect your dog:
Understand the diseases that affect dogs, and the vaccines available to protect against these diseases.
Distemper is a very serious viral disease that causes symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nasal discharge, skin disease, and even seizure. The virus can be airborne and enter the body through the nose or mouth, or it can be spread by direct dog-to-dog contact. Dogs who survive a distemper infection can have lifelong complications. Fortunately, a vaccine is available and part of routine vaccination protocols.
Typically, parvovirus attacks the lining of the small intestine and leads to anorexia, severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can sometimes be bloody. Another form of parvoviral infection in very young puppies can lead to damage to the heart and sudden death. Primarily, the virus is spread through contact with or ingestion of an infected animal’s stool. But it can also be spread by contact with contaminated animals, insects, or objects. Puppies 6 weeks to 6 months old are most commonly affected, though any age of unprotected dog can be infected. Vaccination is important because even with aggressive treatment parvovirus is often fatal.
Canine Leptospirosis (Lepto)
Leptospirosis is currently a growing concern in Canada. It is a serious infectious disease of both animals and people caused by Leptospira bacteria. The early stages of Leptospirosis appear as flu-like symptoms which can be easily confused with other diseases. If not detected early in the course of disease, the bacteria can damage the liver and kidneys and potentially be fatal. Puddles, ditches, and slow-moving streams are all environments that can harbor Leptospira and can indirectly infect your dog. Ask your veterinarian about the risk to your dog and if a vaccination is appropriate.
Canine Cough (Kennel cough, Bordetella)
Canine cough (a highly contagious disease that is commonly caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria) is transmitted through close contact with infected dogs. For this reason, the dogs at greatest risk of contracting canine cough include those who visit dog parks, daycares, kennels, training classes, shows, etc. Two forms of the vaccine are available – intra-nasal or injectable. Ask your veterinarian for more information.
Another common vaccine your dog may receive is for Parainfluenza, a highly contagious disease which results in upper respiratory infections. This virus does not generally cause severe disease. However, it can make your dog more susceptible to secondary bacterial and viral infections which can ultimately lead to more severe implications.
Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Following a bite from an infected animal, the disease develops slowly over days to months. In Canada, wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats pose an ongoing risk of rabies. Because of the potential risk to humans, rabies vaccination is required by law in most jurisdictions. In unvaccinated dogs, rabies is fatal.
Q: What risks are associated with vaccination?
A: Vaccination recommendations always take into consideration the health of your dog and their lifestyle. This ensures that your dog receives only necessary vaccines and that the potential for adverse reactions is minimized. Though vaccination can result in adverse effects, they are generally rare, mild, of short duration, and resolve on their own – often without treatment. The health benefits of vaccination far outweigh any risks.