When Pandora’s Box was opened, not only were a host of diseases released upon mankind, but also plenty of illnesses that would affect dogs. Most of these diseases are dog-specific, but several of them can pass over and be spread to their owners or other people. In many cases, vaccination will prevent these illnesses in the first place, preventing the need for often catastrophic veterinary bills and possible heartbreak.
Distemper is probably the most common disease to afflict unvaccinated dogs. It is actually more likely to impact puppies, and getting your pup vaccinated early can help to prevent this disease. Distemper is spread by a virus, and includes some symptoms reminiscent of human influenza, such as respiratory distress and coughing. However, it also can cause seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting, and can result in the death of the dog.
Rabies is probably the most serious illness your dog could ever acquire. Rabies is a virus and spreads from infected saliva from a bite, and it affects the nervous system and the brain. There is no treatment for rabies and it is fatal. Rabies can be spread to humans, but is entirely preventable with vaccination.
Parvovirus is another highly contagious disease affecting the gastrointestinal system. It will include severe diarrhea and vomiting, and it can cause death. Puppies are much more likely to become ill with parvovirus than adult dogs.
Unlike the above illnesses, leptospirosis is caused by a bacterium. The infective agent can be found in water such as rivers, lakes, and even puddles. This disease affects the kidneys and liver and spreads through contaminated urine. Humans can catch leptospirosis, so cleaning up after a sick pet should always be done wearing gloves.
Kennel cough is another viral disease that causes coughing, vomiting, and a runny nose and eyes. While this disease generally goes away by itself, the owners can look forward to spending some sleepless nights tending to their sick dog.
Coronavirus is another malady that is usually more serious in puppies and younger dogs, although dogs of any age could catch it. This disease causes diarrhea and vomiting, and can be serious enough to merit hospitalization.
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness spread by ticks. This disease causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, painful joints, and possible permanent damage to the heart if left untreated.
All of the above diseases can be prevented by use of vaccines, and a consultation should be made with your veterinarian as to the correct vaccination schedule for your pet. It is best to allow your vet to vaccinate your pet in case your dog experiences a negative reaction to the shot. Allergic reactions are not uncommon with vaccinations, so ask your vet what you should be alert to in this respect.
Rabies vaccine is always administered by a veterinarian, and make sure that your vet uses a better brand of vaccine that will be less likely to cause problems. All rabies vaccines are not the same, as we found out when one of our bulldogs had an anaphylactic allergic reaction to the shot and nearly died. Iris was in the hospital, in the equivalent of intensive care, for almost 5 days and needed continued care at home, including subcutaneous fluids and antibiotic shots. The veterinary bill was enormous.
Because of the problems many dogs have experienced with rabies vaccine, some vets and dog owners suggest having a titer done on the dog to see if antibodies to rabies are still present. Keep in mind that the shot that a 300 pound Tibetan Mastiff receives is exactly the same dosage that your Toy Poodle will get.
It is always best to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s healthcare needs.