The six major infectious diseases of dogs are distemper, hepatitis, parvo disease, rabies, para influenza (kennel cough), bordatella and leptospirosis. Distemper. hepatitis, parvo disease and rabies are all caused by viruses, and all four can kill. Canine distemper can affect dogs of any age. It produces a range of symptoms varying from loss of appetite and high temperature, to fits and death.
The few dogs that do not die from distemper usually suffer long-lasting side effects, including paralysis, nervous twitches and deformed pads.
Canine hepatitis can also affect dogs of any age. It is less common than distemper but just as dangerous. The virus affects the liver; animals that survive an attack usually suffer from permanent liver damage. The virus of canine hepatitis does not cause human hepatitis.
Parvo disease is a new viral disease which can affect any dog. It is particularly fatal in young and very old dogs. The virus attacks the heart muscle and the intestinal tract, causing a fatal bloody diarrhea.
Rabies is a viral disease affecting the brain and making the animal aggressive towards other animals and humans. There are two types: furious rabies, and dumb or paralytic rabies. In both the animals become very excited and aggressive, but in the dumb or paralytic form this phase is very short and the disease progresses rapidly to paralysis and finally death. It is almost impossible to eradicate rabies once it exists in a country, hence the strict quarantine laws by rabies-free countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Para Influenza (Kennel Cough)
Leptospirosis is caused by an organism that can penetrate the skin or mucous membrane, multiply rapidly in the blood and cause fatal anaemia. There is no effective treatment for any of these diseases. Antiserums are available, but by the time an animal is seen to be sick the diseases have often progressed to the point where treatment is ineffective. Antibiotics are useless against viruses. The only safeguard is prevention by vaccination.
Because these diseases are transmitted by infected dogs through contact with their urine, saliva and feces, or through contact with the dogs themselves, you can protect your dog by keeping it in isolation. This is essential for the pup too young to be vaccinated, but is obviously impractical for the older dog, whether it is a working dog, a sporting dog, a show dog or just :he family pet. The only practical and effective way to protect your dog is have it vaccinated by your veterinary surgeon.
Modern-day vaccines do not generally have any after-effects and most can be given from six weeks on. Because various vaccination program are available, it is best to consult your veterinary surgeon about the best time – start the vaccinations and the frequency of booster shots. Pups under elven weeks of age require a special course of vaccinations. Vaccination causes the production of antibodies which circulate in the blood and protect :he dog against infection.
A whelping bitch passes antibodies to her pups in the first milk (colostrum) within twenty-four hours of whelping. This is why it is so important :hat pups suckle immediately after birth. The antibodies the pups receive from their mother disappear gradually over a twelve-week period, leaving :hem unprotected unless immediately vaccinated. Some breeders have them injected with gamma-globulin at three weeks of age as a temporary protection against distemper and hepatitis. This is not vaccination. It pro- :tots the pups against infection for two to three weeks only.
When purchasing a pup it is always important to find out what immunization it has had and, if possible, obtain its vaccination card so your own vet an determine which of the several different varieties of vaccine it has been given and when it needs the first booster.
As vaccinations do not work immediately, but take from three to seven days to build up adequate protection, keep your dog away from other dogs for a couple of weeks after vaccination.