When beloved dogs get sick it’s a worrying time for those who love them and treat them as part of the family. Luckily, a lot of the illnesses your fluffy friends may pick up during the course of their lifetimes are easily treatable. Although a vet bill can leave your wallet feeling sore, it’s still a relief to know that your family pet will be feeling better soon.
However, it isn’t always that easy. Just like human ailments, for every common and treatable disease there are some which are much more obscure, dangerous and difficult to cure. Canine distemper and canine parvovirus are just some of the deadly diseases your dog could pick up from contact with wild animals or other infected pets. Some of the zoonotic pet diseases could even put you and your loved ones in danger of infections like leptospirosis or giardia.
Here we look at three of the scariest diseases your dog could fall ill with, how to spot the changes in their behavior and how to ensure that they receive the treatment they need to get better, with input from expert vet Guy Darbyshire from David Cuffe & Associates veterinary clinic.
Leptospirosis is not only the most common disease transmitted from animals to people, but is also very dangerous for both. It causes liver and renal failure as well as meningitis in humans. In man’s best friend the effects can be just as devastating, causing vital organs to fail quickly and with very little warning.
Guy Darbyshire has seen more cases of this particular disease than most pet owners would be comfortable with, saying: “Leptospirosis is a particularly debilitating disease that I have seen on several occasions in the past 16 years. These dogs are miserable, depressed, sore and quickly die if not treated.”
The disease is commonly contracted in domestic animals by coming into contact with the urine of household rodents like mice. If you are a dog owner who has started noticing little pin pricks of poop in the pantry or the sound of scurrying feet in the loft, there is no time to waste in removing these critters from your premises. If you have had rodents in your home recently then be particularly wary of signs of fever, depression or eye inflammation in your dog as these are usually early warning signs of the disease.
A close relative of the human ailment measles, canine distemper is an aggressive disease attributed to the extinction of more than one type of wild dog in its relatively short history. First discovered in 1905, the disease is particularly prevalent in puppies between the ages of three and six months leaving them with a high fever and discharge from their eyes and nose in the early stages of the infection. As the disease sets in the symptoms become progressively worse. Vet Guy Darbyshire states that “although we don’t see this condition very often, it can result in a very severe disease. It causes gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms plus neurological symptoms associated with an encephalitis.”
Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain in layman’s terms, can cause seizures known as “chewing gum fits” where a dog salivates and snaps its jaw wildly, causing utmost distress to owners and pets alike.
In terms of treatment there are very few options available and most tend to focus on easing the symptoms rather than treating the disease. Luckily however, there is a vaccination available which is highly recommended for dogs living on farms or in rural settings where the risk of exposure to animal urine is high.
One of the most horrible disease your pooch could catch is canine parvovirus (also known as parvo) and as you may have guessed by its name, it is most commonly seen in dogs. The disease spreads through contact with dog feces and puppies are particularly vulnerable to the canine parvovirus, as they are not protected by maternal antibodies.
The disease has both a cardiac and an intestinal form, but the intestinal form is the most common. Manifestations of the disease include vomiting, as well as unexpected changes in the color or consistency of faeces. This change in bowel behavior is known as dysentery or bloody flux and is severe diarrhea that contains mucus and blood. The cardiac form causes cardiovascular and respiratory failure. Other symptoms are loss of appetite and depression. Infection can be prevented with vaccines but when a case of the canine parvovirus is left untreated, nine out of ten dogs will die within 48 to 72 hours of the initial exposure.
The best way to ensure your dog avoids this disease is to keep him away from the faeces of other dogs (easier said than done) and to ensure that a rigorous cleaning schedule is adhered to in your home, paying special attention to low areas in which your dog frequently sticks their nose.
This is a guest post written by Sam Shelley, a dedicated dog owner and blogger working in association with Chemist Direct. They provide prescriptions for dogs, dog products and Royal canin canine speciality dog food.