Medicine is always advancing, for both human and animals. And while that means that many of these diseases aren’t as prevalent as they once were, you should still be aware of any disease your dog may be exposed to, whether at the dog park, daycare kennel, or elsewhere. Here are 5 of the most contagious dog diseases.
1. Canine Parvovirus
Parvovirus is one of the first things puppies get vaccinated for—and with good reason. Puppies with parvo can get severe diarrhea, vomiting, and regurgitation, which can lead to dehydration and death. Vaccination for parvovirus is highly effective.
The virus is spread orally, through fecal/oral transmission. If a dog becomes infected, it’s important to keep them hydrated and make sure they’re getting nutrients. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) notes that parvo is highly contagious and suggests a thorough cleaning of toys, food and water bowls, and other surfaces with a bleach and water solution if a dog with parvo has been in contact with them.
2. Canine Influenza
Dog flu is spread very much like the human flu, through coughing and sneezing, recovery is also similar to humans in that dogs should be kept warm and comfortable while they recover naturally. The canine flu is mostly transmitted these days in animal shelters, so it’s not spreading widely among dogs in general.
Dogs that don’t frequent places like day care and boarding don’t necessarily need the vaccine—though many of those places now require it.
3. Canine Distemper
Distemper is deadly and used to be seen much more decades ago, before it became the first big vaccine for dogs. The disease is spread by bodily secretions and causes three issues: gastrointestinal upset, upper respiratory issues, and then it affects the neurologic system, after which dogs could have seizures and die.
Luckily the vaccine is safe and effective. For the most part a good job has been done in controlling a very devastating disease.
Leptospirosis is often spread through wildlife, so veterinarians used to think of it as a more rural disease. That’s not the case anymore, though it’s hard to tell where exactly a dog might get it since the disease is transmitted through urine. When dog diseases can affect humans, they’re extra worrisome for society. It can cause liver and kidney failure in both humans and animals. In fact, it could even lead to infected humans needing a kidney transplant.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) says that the signs of leptospirosis vary from dog to dog, but could include fever, vomiting, thirst, jaundice, and either frequent urination or lack of urination. It also notes that, if treated early, dogs can recover. However, recovery could take months, and some dogs might never fully recover.
Like canine influenza, coronavirus is spread from dog to dog through coughing and sneezing, according to the AMVA. It can be hard to diagnose.
Corona is a virus looking for a vaccine, meaning there’s a lot of corona out there but it may not clinically do very much. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but some veterinarians have stopped vaccinating for it in an effort to reduce the number of vaccines a dog receives overall.