Common Canine Health Conditions
tend to be more of a seasonal concern being the
most prevalent in the summer and early fall. Often
the first time you might notice fleas is when they
bite you and your family, so watch closely for the
symptoms of fleas on your dog and use protective
measures to prevent them.
The warning sign of
fleas are excessive biting, scratching, and rubbing
by your companion animal, small but visible fast-moving
brownish-black bugs, multiple skin irritations caused
by the flea bites and noticeable "flea dirts;" these
are the small black feces of the flea.
To test for fleas moisten
a sheet of white paper and hold it under your dog.
Briskly comb the dog's fur. Any "flea dirt" which
falls onto the paper will produce a visible red
To prevent fleas keep
your dog away from unfamiliar animals, especially
wild animals. Vacuum and clean the carpet, furniture,
and the dog's bedding repeatedly to remove fleas
and eggs. Fleas on your dog can be controlled with
many different treatments available from your vet.
All animals in the home must be treated for fleas
as well. Ask your vet for the best way to treat
your home and yard for fleas.
Ear mites are insects
that are too small to see with the naked eye. If
the condition goes untreated, ear mites may cause
a secondary infection that must also be treated.
Ear mites are transmitted by direct contact between
your pet and another infected animal, so be sure
to keep your dog away from other animals that have
ear mites. Symptoms are the vigorous shaking, scratching,
or rubbing of the affected ear and a thick black
crust formed in the ear canal of the animal.
If you suspect your
dog may have ear mites, it is advised that you have
your veterinarian check your dog's ears. Your veterinarian
can recommend the appropriate treatment since many
forms of treatment can be effective. The pet should
be immediately isolated from other animals until
completion of the treatment.
Kennel cough is a highly
contagious viral disease, especially for dogs, which
are closely confined, under a lot of stress or in
the cold or drafts. See your veterinarian to make
sure your dog is vaccinated against kennel cough,
especially is your dog will be in close contact
with other dogs as kennel cough requires direct
contact with an infected dog to be spread.
Symptoms first appear
five to ten days after the dog has been infected.
Kennel cough is characterized by harsh, dry coughing
which may be followed by gagging and retching. This
is sometimes accompanied by sneezing and a clear
watery discharge from the nose. Although the cough
is described as "dry" it is common for dogs to cough
up varying amounts of saliva and mucus. Kennel cough
may cause a secondary infection, which will produce
a fever, loss of appetite and depression.
In most cases of healthy
dogs, the viral disease runs its course in 10 to
12 days. Any secondary infection should be treated
with an antibiotic from your veterinarian. A healthy
dog will get over kennel cough; much like a human
gets over the common cold. Kennel cough can, however,
be fatal to puppies, aged or debilitated dogs. Humans
cannot catch kennel cough. If the cough does not
subside in 21 days, contact your veterinarian.
Otitis occurs when
moisture collects in the ear canal resulting in
decreased air circulation, inflammation, and eventually
infection. Factors contributing to Otitis include
excess hair in the ear canal, a history of allergies,
floppy ears or wet ears. Typically you will notice
your pet scratching at his ears or shaking his head.
Additionally a strong odor about the face or ears
may be detected as well as redness in the ears or
an increase of wax in the canal. If severe or left
untreated, the infection can result in rupture of
the eardrum, excessive growth of the tissues of
the ear canal, and even deafness. To prevent Otitis
it is helpful to remove excess hair from the ear
canal. This can be done by a groomer, veterinarian
or by the guardian if properly trained. For dogs
with floppy ears it is important to clean the ears
every two to three months. Dogs that are in the
water frequently should have their ears dried by
swabbing with a dry cotton ball. If you notice any
redness, discharge, or foul odor of the ears it
is important to contact your veterinarian for proper
care and treatment of your pet's ears.
is a blood parasite that can be transmitted to dogs
through a mosquito bite. After a six-month incubation
period, the adult worms, which can reach a length
of 11 inches, can be found in the heart and main
blood vessels to the lungs. This can cause severe
respiratory signs, heart failure, and death. Treatment
is available and is successful in most cases but
does present certain risks. Luckily, heartworm disease
is preventable! Monthly medications are available
that will prevent heartworm but it is important
to have your veterinarian blood test your dog, since
a heartworm positive dog should not be started on
the preventative medication. Preventative medication
is usually given in the months that mosquitoes are
more prevalent, typically April through November.
Due to milder winters in the recent years some veterinarians
may advise to give heartworm preventatives all year
long. Please talk to your veterinarian about the
prevention of this serious disease.
Often called "Parvo,"
parvovirus, is contagious to dogs only-not to cats
or people. Signs include vomiting, fever, and bloody
diarrhea with a very foul odor. The younger the
dog, the greater the chance it will NOT recover.
virus may attack the heart muscle causing inflammation
of the heart muscle. Dogs with canine parvovirus
infection shed massive amounts of virus in the feces.
Parvovirus is transmitted through the feces of an
infected dog. It can be carried on dog's hair and
feet as well as live on contaminated rugs, bedding,
shoes, and other objects. An effective cleaning
disinfectant is 4 ounces of bleach in one gallon
Dogs remain highly
susceptible to parvo until two weeks after the last
injection of the immunization series. Death from
parvo may result from dehydration, overwhelming
bacterial infection from the pet's lowered resistance,
blood loss from internal hemorrhage or possible
heart attack from invasion of the heart muscle by
parvovirus, the pet often becomes "dehydrated" from
the vomiting, diarrhea, and inability to consume
fluids. Life is NOT possible when 12-15% of the
normal body fluids are lost. This is the reason
fluid therapy is so important in treating parvovirus.
Treatment is aimed at maintaining the normal body
composition and preventing secondary bacterial infection.
We have no cure for any animal virus, just as there
is no cure for any human virus.
suspect an illness, infection or virus of your dog,
please contact your veterinarian.