Dog Diseases and Contracted Conditions

Like humans, dogs can experience a variety of illnesses and diseases. While there are vaccinations available to protect man’s best friend from some dog diseases, there are others for which there is no prevention method or cure. Knowing the signs and symptoms of certain dog diseases and contracted conditions can help you protect your pet and keep him healthy for years to come.

Infectious Diseases in Dogs

Here are some of the more common infectious dog diseases:

Heartworm Disease: Heartworms are parasitic worms that typically live in a dog’s heart and blood vessels. Heartworms are transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an animal infected with heartworm disease, it carries the heartworm larvae and eventually transmits them into healthy dogs. The larvae that infect the healthy animal then grow to as long as 14 inches and make their way to the dog’s heart.

When an animal first contracts heartworms, there aren’t any visible signs. As the dog disease progresses, the animal may display the following signs:

  • exercise intolerance
  • nosebleeds
  • shortness of breath

Heartworm is one of the more common dog diseases. You can prevent heartworm by giving your pet heartworm medicine once a month. Talk to your vet to see which medicine is best.

If your pet has been diagnosed with heartworms, he can be treated. However, these treatments are expensive and can be dangerous.

Distemper: Distemper is a disease that affects his senses of smell, sight and hearing, along with its nervous system. Distemper is transmitted when your pet comes in contact with the feces or urine of an infected animal. Distemper mainly occurs in puppies and older dogs.

If your pooch has distemper, he might appear to be suffering from a severe cold, rather than a serious disease. You might also notice that he is squinting and has pus at his eyes. Dogs with distemper also are known to have diarrhea, vomiting and nasal discharge.

If you think your pet might be suffering from distemper, take him to your vet as soon as possible. As the survival rate of those infected with distemper is only around 20 percent, an early diagnosis is important.

If you have a new puppy, be sure to take him in for his first set of shots as soon as possible. Your vet will give him a distemper vaccine to keep him from catching the virus or other dog diseases.

Parvovirus: Parvovirus (also known as Parvo) is a highly contagious virus that is transmitted when your pet comes in contact with the feces or urine of an infected animal. Parvovirus attacks your dog’s white blood cells, the walls of his intestines and, sometimes, his heart.

Parvovirus is a dangerous virus. Dogs that don’t come in contact with other animals very often are much less likely to contract the condition than dogs that are social with other neighborhood pets.

The symptoms of parvovirus start appearing about a week after the animal has come in contact with the virus. The main symptoms are:

  • Bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea
  • fever
  • vomiting.

If your pet has these symptoms, take him to your vet immediately. Your vet might provide him with medicine to help combat the virus and will likely give him an IV to keep him hydrated.

Dogs that die from Parvo typically do so within three days of showing symptoms. Many dogs that die from parvovirus do so because they become dehydrated.

Developed Conditions

Here’s a list of developed conditions and dog diseases from which dogs often suffer:

Allergic Dermatitis: Allergic dermatitis describes a group of skin allergies that may be cause by multiple factors, including:

  • allergens in the air
  • fleas
  • food.

Most cases of allergic dermatitis begin with excessive itching. This itching often develops into a severe skin rash. Many dogs with allergic dermatitis not only itch their skin but bite it as well.

Allergic dermatitis is a non-contagious disease that typically develops when dogs are young, generally when they are less than three years old. If you think your pet might have allergies, visit your vet, who may prescribe cortisone. Sometimes vets also give allergy shots or an antibiotic to combat allergic dermatitis.

Heart Disease: Heart disease typically affects middle-aged dogs. The signs of heart disease include:

  • coughing
  • fainting
  • labored breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss.

The main form of heart disease comes in heart failure, which occurs when the dog’s heart can’t pump enough blood at a sufficient pressure to keep the animal alive.

Canine heart disease can be treated, but you need to be sure to catch the condition early. To test for heart disease, your vet will likely perform blood and urine tests.

To avoid heart disease, make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and eats a well-balanced diet.

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