A routine vaccination regiment will significantly increase your dog’s chances of living a normal, healthy life. Some, once life threatening, canine diseases have all but been eliminated due to scientific advances and medical research. Keeping your dog’s vaccinations current and following your veterinarian’s advice can help to eliminate the risk of contracting most canine diseases. Annual booster shots, monthly Heartworm pills and applications of flea and tick repellants will also help to reduce the chances of your dog contracting a more serious disease. Below is a list of the most common diseases to vaccinate against.
Rabies is probably the most feared of all the animal diseases. Once known as "Hydrophobia", the rabies virus can be passed on to humans through an inflicted wound such as a bite. Most dogs become infected with the virus from the bite of an infected wild animal. The virus spreads by infected saliva and attacks the central nervous cord and brain. There are two classes of rabies: the first, "Furious Rabies", is characterized by symptoms of depression, then aggression followed by paralysis. The first symptoms can appear in as little as a few hours to several days. The dog will be agitated and appear unable to become comfortable. He will lose his appetite and begin to lick and bite; swallowing foreign objects is not uncommon. Other symptoms during this phase include spasms, wild-uncontrolled behavior; including running. The dog will show no signs of fear and will bite anything in sight. If confined, the dog will fight and bite his cage, often breaking teeth and occasionally fracturing his jaw. He will develop a strange howl. In the final stages, the animal’s lower jaw becomes paralyzed and hangs down, the dog my appear to be "foaming at the mouth" or drooling incessantly. He begins to stagger as he walks and dies within four to eight days after the onset of the paralysis. The second class of rabies, known as " Dumb Rabies", is characterized by the dog developing a stiff-legged, bear-like walk. The canine’s head will be held down and the lower jaw will be paralyzed, preventing the dog from biting. The dog will also appear to have something caught in his throat. If a dog bitten by a rabid animal is treated by a veterinarian and with a series of injections immediately after being exposed, the prognoses can be favorable. However, once the symptoms appear, rabies is 100% fatal in all cases. Local health officials must be notified of all suspected rabies cases as it posses a serious threat to all who come into contact with the infected canine. The best prevention is to keep your dog current on their rabies vaccinations. Rabies vaccinations are usually given twice during the puppy’s first year of life and then once every three years for the remainder of the dog’s life. The laws in all 50 United States require rabies vaccinations.
Canine Distemper is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory and nervous systems; it is often fatal. Primary vaccinations should begin at 6 weeks of age to help prevent Distemper. Symptoms include loss of appetite, depression, fever and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose. Dogs that do recover often develop a paralysis, have convulsions, spasms and other neurological disorders.
Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
Canine Parvovirus (A.K.A "Parvo") is a contagious viral infection, which usually causes severe diarrhea and vomiting in dogs of all ages. Parvo attacks the intestinal tract, white blood cells and heart muscle. Parvo can be especially fatal to puppies, fatality rates usually being 75% within two days of exposure. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea within five days of exposure to the virus. Discolored stool, blood in the urine, dehydration, depression, loss of appetite and fever are indications of the virus. Death may occur within 48-72 hours of the appearance of the symptoms. Parvo is believed to be contracted mainly through canine-to-canine contact, usually from the fecal matter of infected dogs. The disease can also be transmitted on the hair and feet of dogs, as well as the clothes and shoes of people. Once an area or kennel is infected, it can be very difficult to eradicate, as the disease is capable of existing for many months in different temperatures. Annual booster shots, disinfecting kennel areas with a one-part bleach (sodium hypochlorite) to thirty-parts water solution and avoiding other dog’s fecal matter will help avoid Parvovirus.