With springtime approaching in Arizona, it is hard to resist bringing your dog on adventures to hiking trails, dog parks, regular parks, and even with you on your own errands around town. Before you attach that leash to your dog’s collar, it is wise to make sure that your dog’s vaccines are current. Springtime brings elevated risks for certain canine diseases and viruses that are highly contagious and potentially fatal. Of these illnesses, parvo is particularly concerning, as it is very contagious and can live in the soil for many years, but distemper and kennel cough are serious, too. Fortunately, there are vaccines available for these illnesses to help protect your dog.
Canine parvovirus is transmitted through the fecal matter of infected dogs. The virus sheds for days before signs occur. Symptoms of parvovirus are most often severe vomiting and diarrhea. Lethargy, lack of appetite, depression, and fever are also common symptoms. Parvovirus can infect dogs of any age, but it is most common in dogs under one year old. Dogs become infected with canine parvovirus by ingesting it, so it is wise for your dog not to share food and water dishes with dogs that you aren’t certain are healthy and current on their own vaccines. If a person is in contact with a dog infected by parvovirus, it can be transmitted to other dogs by contaminated shoes and clothing or other objects contaminated by feces from an infected dog. Unfortunately, parvovirus is resistant to heat and most disinfectants, but it can be destroyed in the environment by a 1:30 bleach and water solution. There is no treatment to rid an infected dog of the virus, but supportive care (maintaining proper levels of hydration and electrolytes) can help to ensure a better outcome.
Distemper, like parvovirus, can affect dogs of any age, and can share some symptoms with parvo, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and with respiratory illnesses such as clear to green discharge from the eyes and nose and difficulty breathing. Dogs with distemper may display a sudden high fever, neurological symptoms, lethargy, weakness, and depression. Just as with parvo, there is no cure once infected, only supportive care.
Bordetella, the bacteria that causes kennel cough, is very contagious and is common in areas where many dogs congregate, such as dog parks, regular parks, and kennels. The most obvious symptom of kennel cough is a “goose honk” sounding cough, discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, wheezing, lack of appetite, and depressed attitude. Kennel cough is treated with medication.
Vaccinating your dog with all 3 of these vaccines is highly recommended to help prevent the spread of illness and potentially save your dog’s life. Whether a vaccine is current or out of date can be determined by your veterinarian. Don’t let your pet be unprotected from preventable diseases. Please give us a call to schedule an appointment.