Infectious diseases in dogs

Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

There are several infectious diseases that can affect your dog and are protected against by vaccination. A number of these diseases rely on high rates of vaccination in the dog population to keep them in check, whilst others are still regularly encountered. With the exception of Rabies, these diseases are, however, still present in the UK, which is why maintaining high vaccination rates is fundamental.

Does vaccination really work?

Does vaccination really work?

Vaccination really does work – Canine Distemper is a serious and highly infectious disease which rapidly spreads between dogs and is a great example of how effective vaccination is in protecting the health of dogs.

Before the introduction of vaccines, it had a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of the UK dog population. Maintaining widespread vaccination keeps this disease at a very low level in the UK, however circulation in wildlife and reintroductions from travelling dogs are continued threats.

History has demonstrated that we should not be complacent about vaccination, should a fall in the proportion of dogs protected occur, a resurgence of the disease would be a major concern.

About Canine Distemper

About Canine Distemper

Signs can be severe and can involve several body systems. Widespread vaccination is very effective at keeping this disease at a low level, however the disease can circulate in wildlife reservoirs and be spread from dogs coming to the UK from abroad.

A number of recent cases have been identified in the UK demonstrating that there is a need for high rates of vaccination to be maintained amongst pet dogs to counter the risk of disease resurgence.

cannine distemper dog symptoms

Runny eyes, nose & coughing, brain disease

These will often be primary signs that an infected dog displays. Pneumonia and a range of nervous signs such as muscle twitching and seizures are likely complications.

Depression and diarrhoea

The dog will have a high fever and is likely to show a marked loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Hard pads

In the later stages of the disease, dogs might develop thickened, cracked and painful footpads and the nose.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of distemper over the 3 year period to July 2020.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of dogs that might be affected as not all dogs are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of dogs being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your dog is protected against distemper.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

The main source of infection is by inhalation of aerosol droplets during close dog-to-dog contact. Signs can take up to three weeks to appear. The virus cannot survive easily in the environment and can be killed by most household disinfectants.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

It is essential to vaccinate your dog according to your vet's recommendations. Puppies that are born to vaccinated dogs usually have antibodies from their mothers (maternal antibodies) that protect them against infection during the first few weeks of their lives. The puppy is in danger after the level of maternal antibodies declines and that is when it should be vaccinated.

There is no specific treatment for canine distemper, although supportive therapy in the form of intravenous fluids are often given to correct the fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhoea. The best form of protection against this virus is through vaccination. This disease can be vaccinated with a vaccine that offers immunity for three years.

Contagious Canine Cough

Contagious Canine Cough

Also known as Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or more commonly known as “kennel cough”, is a highly contagious disease of a dog's respiratory tract. Despite the name, the disease occurs wherever dogs are in close contact with each other, meaning that they might be at risk of getting infected in many different environments aside from boarding kennels.

A range of different viruses and bacteria can cause coughing in dogs but the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus are two important causes covered by vaccines for this disease.

Harsh dry cough

This may be prove distressing and may lead to retching of froth and mucus. The cough can last several weeks.

Loss of appetite

This tends to occur in more serious disease.

Fever

Some individuals may become very unwell and develop pneumonia.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of respiratory disease cases with confirmed Bordetella infection over the 3 years to July 2020.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of dogs that might be affected as not all dogs are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of dogs being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your dog is protected against is well protected against contagious canine cough.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

Contagious canine cough is transmitted by coughing, sneezing or nose-to-nose contact. The disease can spread rapidly and can last up to six weeks.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

Vaccination is the best way to protect dogs against contagious canine cough. The vaccine can be given as an injectable, in your dog's mouth or in your dog's nose. Discuss with your vet the best method for your dog.

About Leptospirosis

About Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread via the urine of infected animals. It is a serious zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread to humans by contact with infected urine or a contaminated environment. The signs of disease are highly variable, and can affect a range of organs. The liver and/or kidneys are commonly affected. Other important syndromes can involve the lungs and an association with severe bleeding problems.

There are different strains (known as serovars) that are responsible for the disease. Traditionally, a 2 strain (bivalent) vaccines was used to protect dogs. In recent years it has been recognised that a wider range of strains (known as serovars) that are responsible for cases in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. This has resulted in vaccines that cover a greater spectrum of serovars to broaden the protection that vaccination covers.

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy dog Leptospirosis information

Bleeding

Severe bleeding which can involve the lungs is a very serious complication.

Altered urination

Changes to urine output associated with kidney damage and failure.

Fever, jaundice and abdominal pain

Infected dogs may show a range of signs that relate to severe liver damage.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of leptospirosis over the 3 years to July 2020.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of dogs that might be affected as not all dogs are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of dogs being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your dog is protected against leptospirosis.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

Bacteria in contaminated water can enter the body across the moist mucous membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth or if an infected rodent is eaten. The bacteria can also penetrate the body via wounds (such as a bite
from an infected animal) or skin abrasions. This is followed by a rapid replication in several tissues such as the kidney, liver and spleen. The bacteria is then excreted via the animal’s urine back into the environment.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

Prevention through vaccination is far better than cure not least when the disease is potentially fatal, hard to diagnose and treat. There is a choice of cover that vaccines can provide against the strains that circulate. Your vet will be able to advise of the most appropriate protection for your dog.

 It is important to re-vaccinate your dog on a yearly basis against this disease to continue the optimum level of protection - studies have shown that protection starts to wane after 12 months. Expert advice by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association is that leptospirosis should be considered core for vaccination of dogs in the United Kingdom. Based on a consideration of breed and lifestyle factors in dogs that have developed the disease, leptospirosis vaccination is usually recommended for all UK dogs. Please contact your vet regarding further advice on vaccination against leptospirosis.

About Rabies

About Rabies

The UK has been free of rabies for many decades (with the exception of a small number of very rare cases of rabies in bats). The last case of classical rabies caught in the UK was in 1902.

Nevertheless the control of this disease remains very important with an estimated 60,000 human deaths a year attributable to the disease and infected dog bites being by far the most important way in which the disease is acquired. Vaccination against rabies is a key requirement for international pet travel (please refer to the DEFRA website for further current information on pet travel overseas).

 

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy dog disease information

A change in behaviour

An unexpected change from normal behaviour can be one of the first signs noted. This includes abnormal and exaggerated responses.

Limb weakness and incoordination

This relates to a gradual weakness and paralysis as the virus travels through the nervous system.

Salivation

The virus spreads to the salivary glands and is excreted in saliva so that it can be spread through biting others. The virus also paralyses the vocal cords and prevents swallowing so that the tone of the bark changes and excessive drooling occurs.

How is it spread?

How is it spread?

Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal with high virus concentrations in its saliva.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

The requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) enable travel between countries in the EU as well as a number of listed countries. They apply to dogs, cats and ferrets and are very strict regarding rabies boosters and if a pet owner wishes to keep their animal registered, its vaccinations must be kept up-to-date.

It is important to consider that if a pet is regarded a resident in a particular country being visited that the rules governing rabies vaccination in the country may be different from those needed for travel. Check with a veterinary surgeon in the individual county visited regarding their specific requirements should a stay longer than a short holiday be contemplated.

At the time of writing the situation regarding Brexit continues to be fluid. Therefore it is wise to check with your vet for the current advice, and for copies of leaflets and further guidance on taking pets abroad, please contact the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline on 0870 241 1710, or your local vet.

You can also visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

About Infectious Hepatitis

About Infectious Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a disease which affects the liver, eyes and lungs of a dog. The disease can develop very quickly and some individuals may die within hours of becoming unwell.

Keeping Britain's Pets Healthy dog blindness information

Abdominal pain

This may relate to the inflamed liver or other internal organs.

Blindness

Inflammation of the eyes resulting in a clouding of vision is a common complication.

Reddened/bruised gums

Spontaneous bleeding can arise due to the development of blood clotting problems.

How is it spread?

How is it spread?

It is transmitted by direct contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces. Furthermore, dogs that have recovered from this disease can still be infectious to other dogs for more than six months. Young puppies are particularly susceptible to the disease. The virus is relatively hardy and can survive for months in the environment under ideal conditions.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

The best form of protection against this virus is through vaccination.
Some vaccines offer a minimum duration of immunity of three years, this means your dog will have immunity for at least 3 years.

About Parvovirus Disease

About Parvovirus Disease

Canine parvovirus is a small, but extremely hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods of time - months or even a year or more.

The disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Although no longer present in epidemic proportions, parvovirus is still relatively common in unvaccinated dogs, and veterinary surgeons throughout the country regularly report outbreaks of the disease. The reason for this is because unvaccinated animals shed very large amounts of virus into the environment which then can infect other dogs for many months. Therefore, protecting your dog through vaccination is vitally important.

parvovirus dog symptoms

Severe weakness and depression

Clinical signs are usually observed 3-5 days after infection.

Anorexia and Vomiting

The dog is likely to refuse food and water and repeatedly vomit on an empty stomach –  combined with increased fluid loss this can lead to very rapid dehydration.

Severe diarrhoea and immune suppression

Affected puppies and dogs experience very severe diarrhoea due to profound damage to their gut and this is commonly associated with a great deal of blood. Fluid loss and entry of bacteria into the body with a reduced ability to fight infection commonly leads to rapid deterioration and death.

Density of Reports

The map shows the density of confirmed cases of parvovirus over the 3 years to July 2020.

This density map is created using data captured by laboratories that test for disease.

It is likely that this is only a small proportion of the number of dogs that might be affected as not all dogs are tested by these laboratories. It is useful to provide an indication of disease in the UK and if vaccination rates drop, we are likely to see an increase in the number of dogs being affected by this dangerous disease.

Speak to your vet about how to make sure your dog is protected against parvovirus.

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How is it spread?

How is it spread?

The main source of infection is the faeces of infected dogs which contaminate the wider environment.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and Control

There is no specific treatment for canine parvovirus, so it is important to ensure that your dog is vaccinated in both puppyhood and adult life to stop the disease and reduce the chance of spreading infection. Unfortunately, canine parvovirus is very stable in the environment, so any animal which sheds the virus not only contaminates the environment, but poses a risk to other animals as well.

Some vaccines against parvovirus offer a duration of immunity of up to 3 years so that following a primary vaccination and a first annual booster most dogs should be protected for at least a full three years against parvovirus.

 

 

Learn more about pet vaccination

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Learn more about Vaccination Protocols

Why vaccinate

Learn more about why continuing to vaccinate your dog regularly is important

Travelling Pets

Learn more about Travelling Pets