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Adenovirus - There are actually 2 strains of Canine Adenovirus; 1 & 2 - often abbreviated CAV-1 and CAV-2. CAV-2 is a highly contagious respiratory pathogen that causes signs including ocular and/or nasal discharge and severe, hacking cough. This organism contributes to a disease complex most commonly known as Kennel Cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis. It is spread by nasal secretions from dog to dog. The incubation period is typically 2 weeks and is usually self-limiting in about 2 weeks time. Due to cross-reactivity, vaccination for CAV-2 will protect against CAV-1 as well. See Hepatitis for discussion of CAV-1.
Bordetella Bronchiseptica - This is another highly pathogenic respiratory virus and thought to be the key player in Kennel Cough. Its degree of infectivity is often compared to ‘the common cold in a day care.” It also mutates at a rapid rate and thus vaccination may not be truly protective. However, like a flu shot, if it doesn't protect your dog entirely it will at least lessen the severity of infection. It is spread by nasal secretions from dog to dog. The incubation is typically 2 weeks and is usually self limiting in about 2 weeks time.
Borrelia Burgdorferi - This is the causative organism for Lyme disease. The infection is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. Initial signs usually include stiffness, soreness, and generalized “not feeling well”, beginning 6-8 weeks after infection. These signs eventually resolve as the organism moves to other organ systems. In dogs, the target organ is the kidneys and will cause irreversible kidney failure. If caught early, Lyme disease can be managed well with antibiotic therapy. We do NOT cure Lyme disease and dogs with it require additional routine testing to monitor their condition.
Canine Influenza - Canine Influenza Virus (also known a H3N8) a relatively newer viral concern that was first reported in racing Greyhounds in Florida in 2004. A second strain of CIV (H3N2) has been discovered recently. Subsequent testing throughout the United States indicates that both strains of canine flu are widespread and have infected many breeds in many states. Most dogs that develop the mild form of either strain will produce a chronic cough that may last for 10 – 30 days similar to Bordetella (see Kennel Cough). Some dogs infected with CIV, however, can develop a more serious pneumonia with a high grade fever requiring hospitalization. Unfortunately a small percentage will die despite medical care. Like with humans, Canine Influenza is a disease that is easier to try to prevent than treat.
Coronavirus - Coronavirus is the second leading cause of viral diarrhea in puppies. It typically presents as profuse, watery diarrhea. It can be clinically indistinguishable from Parvovirus (see below) and is, in fact, a common co-infection. The organism is stable in the environment and resistant to common cleaning agents. When tested, many adult dogs have results indicating corona infection at some point in their lives, without necessarily manifesting clinical illness. Illness from the virus or shedding of the virus in the stool can occur when an animal is stressed (i.e. with concurrent infection, post-surgery, kenneling, etc.). Because of the organism’s stability, dog-to-dog contact is not necessary.
Distemper - Canine Distemper is caused by a Paramyxovirus. Affected dogs typically present with a significant fever and initially respiratory signs. With disease progression the virus will affect the gastro-intestinal tract, and ultimately the central nervous system. There is a severe depression of white blood cells and thickening (“hyperkeratosis”) of the foot pads and tip of nose – thus the nickname “hard pad disease.” While the virus is not stable outside of the host, and easily killed with cleaning, the disease can be lethal. Transmission is through saliva and/or nasal secretions. Those animals that do recover may shed the virus for months.
Hepatitis - Infectious hepatitis in dogs is caused by Canine Adenovirus 1 (CAV-1). Affected dogs usually have a fever and depression of white blood cells, including those involved in clotting blood. Some dogs will bleed spontaneously. While the liver appears to be the primary target organ in dogs, the lungs, spleen, kidneys, and eyes can also be involved. Transmission can be through infective urine, feces, saliva/nasal discharge. The virus is resistant to cleaning agents and can survive in the environment for months. Biting ectoparasites such as flies, fleas, and ticks can carry the virus from animal to animal. Depending on severity of the infection, this condition can be fatal. Dogs who do recover will shed the virus for up to 1 year.
Leptospirosis - There are multiple strains (serovars) of the Leptospirosis organism. The primary reservoirs are wildlife and cattle. Leptospirosis is the number one cause of acute kidney failure in dogs. However, other organ systems can be affected and many researchers believe that this disease is significantly under-diagnosed due to the fact that there is no “typical” presentation. Incubation is typically reported as 4-12 days, but can be as rapid as 2 days. Transmission is through infective urine. The organism can last in the environment, typically in standing pools or puddles of water. If caught, Leptospirosis responds well to antibiotic therapy although permanent kidney damage is possible. This condition can be lethal however and is one of the few conditions that can be spread to people from their affected pets.
Parainfluenza - Parainfluenza virus is one of the contributors to Kennel Cough (see Adenovirus or Bordetella).
Parvovirus - Parvo is the number one cause of viral disease in puppies. Affected puppies typically present with vomiting and bloody diarrhea. They may have a fever and most have a significant depression of their white blood cells. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in the body – typically the cells of the intestine however blood producing cells in the bone marrow and the heart muscle cells can be affected as well. This condition can be lethal. Transmission is through infective fecal material. The virus is resistant to cleaning and can survive in the environment for months. Dogs that do recover may become carriers, shedding the virus intermittently throughout their lives.
Rabies - Rabies causes acute viral encephalitis. Carnivores and bats are primarily affected, but any mammal is susceptible. Infected animals may shed virus and infect others before signs are apparent. Typically, behavior changes appear first – agitation, aggression, loss of fear, atypical circadian rhythms. As the disease progresses, the behavioral signs subside and a progressive paralysis ensues- which is the ultimate cause of death. Rabies is invariably fatal. The virus is spread through infective saliva. Incubation is both prolonged and tremendously variable. People can be infected and do die from Rabies as well. This is the only disease for which vaccination of pets (dogs, cats, and ferrets) is both required by law and mandated that it be administered by a licensed veterinarian.