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Disease Information

It's a simple truth - throughout its lifetime, your dog will be exposed to bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause diseases, some of them serious and life threatening. And though nobody knows your dog better than you do, it can't let you know what's wrong if it isn't feeling well. Fortunately, many canine diseases can be prevented, treated, or controlled. Understanding your role in keeping your pet in the best shape possible starts with understanding the most common threats to its health. You and your veterinarian will want to discuss the best ways to prevent or control them, and you'll want to work together to put develop a comprehensive, ongoing health program for your best friend.

Rabies: A Fatal Disease that Affects People, Too

What Is It? Rabies is a generally fatal viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can infect all warm-blooded animals. The disease is zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted to humans bitten by an infected animal. People exposed to rabies must undergo a post exposure treatment.

What Are the Signs? Changes in behavior that can include uncharacteristic restlessness, aggressiveness, agitation, shyness, and paralysis.

How Can Rabies Be Prevented? Vaccination by your veterinarian.

Canine Parvovirus or "Parvo" : An Intestinal Virus that Typically Attacks Puppies

What Is It? Parvo is an acute, potentially fatal disease of the gastrointestinal tract and, less commonly, the heart muscle. Although dogs of all ages are susceptible, puppies are more at risk.

What Are the Signs? Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever and dehydration. Since these symptoms can indicate other diseases as well, the veterinarian will confirm a diagnosis of parvoviral infection by examining the feces.

How Can Canine Parvovirus Be Prevented? Vaccination.

Canine Coronavirus: A Contagious Disease that's Transmitted Easily

What Is It? Coronavirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal disease affecting dogs at any age. Show dogs and dogs in boarding kennels are most susceptible. Though the symptoms are less severe in adult dogs than in puppies.

What Are the Signs? Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever and depression. Signs are more dramatic if other infections, such as parvovirus, are present too.

How Can Canine Coronavirus Be Prevented? Vaccination and extra caution in high-risk environments such as dog shows and boarding kennels.

Canine Distemper: (Hard Pad Disease) The "Canine Plague"

What Is It? Canine distemper, also known as hardpad disease, is a systemic, very contagious, potentially fatal viral disease.

What Are the Signs? Fever, runny nose, cough, and vomiting, progressing to twitching muscles or seizures.

How Can Canine Distemper Be Prevented? Vaccination.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH)

What Is It? Infectious Canine Hepatitis, or ICH, is a contagious viral disease that can damage a dog's liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. ICH ranges from mild to severe and can be fatal in puppies.

What Are the Signs? Fever, diarrhea, thirst, loss of appetite, discharge from the eyes and nose, respiratory distress, and, in some cases, abdominal pain may be present in some cases.

How Can Infectious Canine Hepatitis Be Prevented? Vaccination.

Kennel Cough

What Is It? Kennel Cough or infectious tracheobronchitis, is an extremely contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract. Contributing infectious agents, either acting alone or in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus and canine adenovirus. Kennel cough can spread rapidly among susceptible animals in an environment such as a boarding kennel. Though the disease is generally mild it can be serious or even fatal in puppies and can cause chronic bronchitis in older dogs and dogs with other illnesses.

What Are the Signs? Harsh dry coughing followed by retching and gagging. In more severe cases kennel cough can be present along with a systemic infection which as distemper.

How Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented? Vaccination.

Canine Parainfluenza

What Is It? Canine parainfluenza is a chronic, viral contagious respiratory disease that is involved in opportunistic canine infections.

What Are the Signs? Cough

How Can Canine Parainfluenza Be Prevented? Vaccination.


What Is It? Leptospirosis is a contagious bacterial infection caused by organisms that can survive in surface waters for extended periods. Animals and humans can become infected by coming into contact with the urine of infected animals or, in the case of animals, by ingesting urine-contaminated feed or water. Brown rats and other dogs are the primary sources of infection in dogs.

What Are the Signs? Sudden slight weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and mild conjunctivitis in the early stage. Labored breathing, strong thirst, back pain, abrasion-like patches in the mouth in later stages.

How Can Leptospirosis Be Prevented? Vaccination and rodent control. Antibiotics are used to treat the disease.

Fleas and Flea Infestation

What Are They? Fleas are common parasites. These tiny pests can hop onto your dog unobserved to feed on its blood and lay eggs, beginning another generation. Fleas can make life miserable for people and dogs alike, disrupting your household with a nasty cycle of biting and scratching.

What Are the Signs? Flea bites cause itching and may cause inflammation of the skin called Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). You should also look for signs of such as black specs on your dog or in your dog's bed. Also, your dog may become nervous or annoyed and will scratch excessively if infested with fleas.

How Can Flea Infestations Be Prevented? Use of an approved product like FRONTLINE ® (fipronil) will kill fleas that are already on a dog and prevent fleas from reinfesting your animal. Once a flea infestation is serious, a number of control measures may be required, including the use of appropriate flea control products in indoor and outdoor pet areas, frequent cleaning of pet bedding and blankets, vacuuming, and sanitizing.

Ticks and Tick-Borne Disease

What Are They? Ticks are ectoparasites, that attach themselves to a host animal (including humans) to feed on the animal's blood. Ticks may carry serious, even fatal, diseases such as ehrlichiosis and babesiosis.

What Are the Signs? Symptoms of tick-borne diseases include fever, lameness, loss of appetite, sudden onset of pain in your pet's legs or body, arthritis or swelling in your dog's joints, lethargy or depression and a cough.

How Can Tick Problems Be Controlled? Use of a tick-killing product like FRONTLINE as directed.

Heartworm Disease

What Is It? The parasitic worm responsible for heartworm disease is called Dirofilaria immitis. The life cycle of the heartworm begins when a mosquito bites and feeds on the blood of an infected dog that is carrying tiny immature heartworms, called microfilariae, in its blood. The mosquito takes in the immature heartworms when it feeds. During the next two-to-three weeks, the larvae develop into the infective stage within the mosquito. When the mosquito feeds again, it can transmit infective larvae to a healthy dog. The larvae enter the dog's body through the mosquitoes bite wound , migrate through its tissues, and develop over the next few months, eventually reaching the dog’s heart and lungs. Heartworms may be present in the heart and lungs approximately four months after initial infection. Once in the dog’s heart, the worms may grow to between 7 and 11 inches in length. and cause significant damage to the heart and lungs. If left untreated, heartworm disease may result in death. After adult heartworms mate and produce immature heartworms an infected dog which is bitten by an uninfected mosquito will transmit microfilariae to the mosquito, beginning the cycle again.

What Are the Signs? Dogs in the early stages of heartworm disease may not show any symptoms of illness at all. But as the disease progresses, an infected animal may cough and exhibit intolerance for exercise, and, in severe cases, may die suddenly.

How Can Heartworm Disease Be Prevented? Use of a heartworm prevention product like HEARTGARD® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) as directed will kill any immature heartworms before they have the chance to mature and cause heartworm disease. Once a dog has heartworm, treatment can be difficult

Click on the following links for more information:

External Parasites
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Internal Parasites