Diseases to Vaccinate Your Dog Against
Dogs get viruses that can threaten their health as well as make them miserable. Vaccinations exist for many of these illnesses. Vaccination schedules vary and are discussed in a separate article. Here are the diseases for which vaccines exist.
- Adenovirus cough is one of the causes of kennel cough. The dog’s trachea and bronchial tubes are inflamed. This causes the dog to have a dry, hacking cough followed by retching and sometimes the coughing up of a white foamy discharge. The dog often gets a secondary bacterial infection that can be life threatening. The cough also keeps the dog from resting or sometimes even eating. This lasts up to three weeks without treatment.
- Bordetella bronchiseptica Also causes kennel cough. The symptoms are the same as in adenovirus and so is the misery. If your dog goes out around other dogs, even healthy ones, he will be exposed to bordetella. It is the doggy equivalent to the common cold in terms of catching it, but can be staved off with a vaccination, or lessened in severity. This vaccination comes in both a shot and intranasal drops.
- Coronavirus is a gastrointestinal disease much like parvo. This disease primarily affects puppies or immune compromised adults. Symptoms include fever, depression, vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. This disease can be mild or deadly.
- Distemper is a major killer of dogs. It is spread through droplets that are inhaled, feces and urine. Puppies are most susceptible, but any dog can get it. Distemper attacts the gastrointestinal system, lungs, and nervous system. Symptoms are a high fever, followed by difficulty breathing and signs of neurological problems. Before vaccines, almost all dogs went through this. If the dog survived and was not brain damaged, he was named and trained. Often, though, the dog did not survive or had neurological complications and was put down.
- Hepatitis is a liver infection that causes symptoms similar to human hepatitis, although humans do not catch canine hepatitis. Most dogs recover, although they are very sick for a while. The liver swells and is very painful, dogs become lethargic, have a tender abdomen, stop eating, cough, and shows depression. They may also develop jaundice, lesions on their corneas and mouth, hepatic encephalopathy, and death.
- Leptospirosis causes weakness, fever, vomiting, kidney and liver failure, and death. There are five strains of the strains of Leptospirosis in the United States. Some veterinarians have stopped vaccinating for this disease and others do so only if there is an outbreak of it.
- Lyme disease is carried by ticks. The old practice of touching a tick with a hot match to make it back out also makes it vomit the stomach contents into the dog, potentially infecting the dog. If a tick stays attached to the dog for very long, transmission of this disease can occur. Symptoms are recurrent lameness, pain, lack of appetite and depression. The kidneys and rarely the nervous system may be damaged.
- Parainfluenza causes upper respiratory infection in puppies and dogs. The symptoms are similar to kennel cough: dry hacking cough, retching, depression, loss of appetite, and abject misery. The dog cannot sleep for coughing and often develops a secondary bacterial infection.
- Parvovirus is a gastrointestinal illness most notable for its high mortality rate and the shedding of the lining of the intestine. Dogs vomit blood and have bloody diarrhea along with high fever. They can survive with prompt medical care, but are likely to be in the hospital for close to a week. Many dogs that survive seem to have some cognitive problems — they are never “quite right” again and seem to have loss of cognitive function. In other words, the high fever associated with parvo makes them stupid.
- Rabies is a horrible disease. If you only vaccinate against one disease, make it this one. The mortality rate is so close to 100% it might as well be 100%. This disease is transmittable to humans by a bite, a lick, or other fluid exchange. Rabies takes two forms: furious rabies is characterized by behavior changes that include extreme aggression toward anything that moves. Paralytic rabies is characterized by weakness and lack of coordination. Dogs appear drunk during this phase. Dogs will develop jaw drop, an inability to swallow, fever, seizures, frothing at the mouth, and death. Dogs that are bitten or scratched by a wild animal or stray dog should be presumed to have been exposed and should be given a booster shot within 72 hours of the bite. Rabies is extremely serious and no chances should be taken.
These are the most common diseases for which dogs receive vaccinations. Only you and your veterinarian can decide what vaccinations your dogs needs based on the diseases common in your area.