COMMON DOG DISEASES
Here is a list of common dog diseases.
- KENNEL COUGH
Dog mange is a skin condition that creates severe pain and itching for dogs. Along with the discomfort, mange can also lead to scaling and scabbing that can become infected. The root cause of dog mange is the presence of mites that burrow into the skin and cause the body to attempt to expel the invaders and relieve the itching and general discomfort.
While mange is normally associated only with dogs, it is also possible for the condition to be passed on to other mammals as well. This is partly due to the fact that pus may drain from the exposed skin of a dog suffering with mange. Tiny mites may be found in the pus and be passed on to a new host. When this occurs, the mites burrow into the skin of the new host, leading to the loss of hair and reddish scales on the exposed skin.
Along with the loss of hair and the development of the red hue on the surface of the skin, dog mange also can cause the development of pimples in the infected area. Dry patches of skin may also develop, eventually becoming thicker in texture than the surrounding areas. The dog will also often develop scaling around the mouth, eyes, and the front legs as the condition continues to worsen.
The type of mite that has invaded the skin often determines the exact course of treatment for dog mange. Sarcopticthe mites are round shaped while demodectic mites are elongated and have an appearance that is somewhat like that of a cigar. In both cases, the mites move around under the surface of the skin and create an itching sensation that is almost unbearable for the host.
In minor cases, dogs may be able to scratch and dislodge the mites before they become too settled into the skin. When this happens, the mange normally clears up in a few weeks. However, it is usually a good idea to take the animal to a veterinarian and initiate treatments immediately. Treatments may include the administration of medications to kill the mites from within the body or shampoos and body washes that treat the skin from the outside and eventually kill any mites still present.
Use only medicated shampoos recommended by the veterinarian, as these will not harm the dog, but will begin to heal the skin while still killing the mites. We also administer Divectilack via needle and in food to quickly erridicate the mite and relive the dogs of the pain.
Canine scabies, also known as sarcoptic mange, in dogs, is caused by the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei. These microscopic mites can invade the skin of healthy dogs or puppies and create a variety of skin problems, the most common of which is hair loss and severe itching. While they will infect other animals and even humans, sarcoptic mites prefer to live their short lives on dogs. Fortunately, there are several good treatments for this mange and the disease can be easily controlled.
Who gets canine scabies?
Canine scabies can infect all ages and breeds of dogs. While it prefers to live on dogs, this particular mite will also infect cats, ferrets, humans, and fox. Cats, fox, and humans all have their own particular species of mite within the Sarcoptes family. Each species of mite prefers one specific kind of host (e.g.; dog), but may also infect others.
What is the life cycle of Sarcoptes scabiei?
The mites usually spend their entire life on a dog. The female mite burrows into the skin and lays eggs several times as she continues burrowing. These tunnels can actually reach the length of several centimeters. After she deposits the eggs, the female mite dies. In 3-8 days, the eggs hatch into larvae which have 6 legs. The larvae mature into nymphs which have 8 legs. The nymph then molts into an adult while it is still in the burrow. The adults mate, and the process continues. The entire life cycle requires 2-3 weeks.
The mites prefer to live on the dog, but will live for several days off of the host in the environment. In cool moist environments, they can live for up to 22 days. At normal room temperature in a home, they will live from 2 to 6 days. Because of the mite’s ability to survive off the host, dogs can become infected without ever coming into direct contact with an infected animal.
What are the symptoms of canine scabies?
The symptoms of canine scabies are varied, but usually include hair loss and severe itching especially on the elbows, ears, armpits, hocks, chest, and ventral abdomen (belly). The mites prefer to live on areas of the skin that have less hair. As the infection worsens it can spread over the entire body. Small red pustules often develop along with yellow crusts on the skin. Because of the severe itching and resultant scratching, the skin soon becomes traumatized and a variety of sores and infections can develop as a result. The itching seems to be much worse in warm conditions such as indoors or near a stove or heat vent. If the infection goes untreated or is mistakenly treated as an allergy, the skin may darken due to the constant irritation, and the surrounding lymph nodes may become enlarged.
Sarcoptic mange is a somewhat common infection and many cases have often been misdiagnosed as severe atopy (inhalant allergy). Any time we see a dog who does not have a prior history of allergies and develops severe itching, or if the itching is not seasonal but year-round, we have to suspect canine scabies.
The intense itching caused by the sarcoptic mite is actually thought to be caused from a severe allergic reaction to the mite. When dogs are initially infected with Sarcoptes they do not develop itching for several weeks. If the animals are treated and then reinfected at a later time, severe itching starts almost immediately, which indicates the itching may be due to an allergic reaction. However, the standard treatments for allergies generally will not decrease the symptoms of scabies, and will do nothing to cure the disease.
How is canine scabies diagnosed?
Trying to make a diagnosis of canine scabies can be very frustrating. The standard method is to perform a skin scraping and then identify the mite under the microscope. Unfortunately, on average, only twenty percent of the infected dogs will show Sarcoptes mites on any given scraping. Therefore, if a dog has a positive skin scraping, the diagnosis is confirmed but a negative scraping does not rule out sarcoptic mange. Therefore, most diagnoses are made based on history and response to treatment for scabies.
How is scabies treated? There are several ways to treat scabies. In the past, the most effective treatment had been to clip the dog if he had long hair, bathe him with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo to cleanse the skin, and then apply an organophosphate dip (Paramite). Amitraz dips and Mitaban (also organophosphates), and lime sulfur dips (Lymdip) have also been used effectively. The dogs are usually dipped once every two weeks for two to three times. While effective, these dips are very unpleasant to apply for both the owner and the dog. Because the dip must come in contact with the mites and many mites live on the face and ears of dogs, great care must be exercised when applying these dips to these sensitive areas. The dips can be toxic to humans and are not suitable for very young, old, or debilitated animals. In addition, there are some reported cases of resistance to these dips in some cases of sarcoptic mange.
Fortunately, there are several other products that have been extremely effective, safe, and convenient in treating sarcoptic mange. Selamectin (Revolution) is a topical solution that is applied once a month and also provides heartworm prevention, flea control, some tick protection and protection against Sarcoptic mange. Frontline Plus, Frontline Top Spot, and Frontline Spray are also labelled for use as aids in controlling sarcoptic mange. Liquid ivermectin is an off label alternative that is sometimes used. It is used at much higher concentrations than are found in heartworm preventives (e.g., Heartgard). Ivermectin should not be used in Collies or Shetland sheep dogs and should be used with caution in the herding breeds. In dogs that are sensitive to ivermectin, some veterinarians have been having success using milbemycin oxime (Interceptor) at an off-label dose. All of these products should only be used under direct veterinary supervision and care.
In addition to treating the dog, the environment such as the dog’s bedding can be treated with a residual insecticide. Since Sarcoptes scabiei is easily transmitted between animals, all dogs in contact with an infected animal should also be treated. Because of the length of the life cycle and ability of the mite to live off of the animal, treatment must continue for a minimum of 4 weeks.
Because of the damage to the skin in sarcoptic mange, many dogs also have bacterial and or yeast infections. These need to be treated as well.
How is canine scabies prevented?
Because your dog does not have to come into direct contact with an infected dog to contract scabies, it is difficult to completely protect him. Places where large numbers of dogs congregate are obviously more likely to harbor the mange mite. Since fox and the environment in which fox may spend a large amount of time can transmit the mite to dogs, keep dogs away from fox and these areas.
Can I get scabies?
Yes, although when humans get Sarcoptes scabei from animals, the disease is generally self-limiting, causing only temporary itching. There is a human species of Sarcoptes, which is transmitted from person to person. This human species of sarcoptic mite causes a rash on the wrists, elbows, or between the fingers. In infants, the rash may appear on the head, neck, or body.
There are a number of different worms that can affect your dog: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms. Some live in the intestines and some in the tissue. Many worms do not pose a problem for your dog at all, and you will not even be aware that they are even there. Some worms can be tolerated in small numbers, but in high numbers can create serious problems.
Generally a dog should be treated every six months for roundworms and tapeworms. They are the most common, with roundworm being the bigger problem.
Puppies should be treated at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 weeks regularly, about every two weeks up to the puppy reaching three months old and again as advised by your vet, and with vet recommended medicine. Be sure to deworm the dam. Talk to your vet.
Tapeworms and roundworms can infect people.
In all areas where there are dogs, there are roundworm eggs.
Roundworms: (Toxocara canis)
Roundworms, also called ascarids, are of whitish color. They look just like a piece of cooked spaghetti, and live in your dog’s intestine. They can reach up to eight inches in length (20cm) and feed off of your dog’s food, in the intestine. Roundworms shed eggs continually. You can either treat your dog for roundworms every six months, OR you can have it tested and only treat if your dog has them.
Roundworms migrate throughout the blood into the lungs, are coughed up, and usually re-swallowed. Sometimes the larvae can travel through the liver and brain.
You may never see these worms, and one day one may come out in the dog’s stool. They can cause bloating, diarrhea and vomiting. Your dog may stop eating, after passing a stage of overeating, and always being hungry.
In young puppies untreated roundworms can cause the bowel to rupture. Puppies get roundworms from their mom, as the larval worms migrate into the womb, or into her teats. A pregnant dam can be treated for roundworms, and should be. Ask your vet. Dogs should be discouraged from pooping where kids play, as roundworms are especially dangerous to children. Roundworm eggs can lie dormant in a sandbox for years. Once they enter the child host they can migrate to the child’s liver, lungs, eyes or brain and become permanently encysted.
Tapeworms (Taenia and dipylidium species)
Tapeworms look like a piece of rice on the stool but not in it, or sometimes can be seen sticking like little white eggs to the dog’s anus.
There are a few different varieties of tapeworms. Fleas carry tapeworms, so if your dog has fleas, or had fleas, there is a good chance he could have tapeworms (see flea write-up). Also if the dog eats the flea he could have tapeworms.
Standard wormer doesn’t always kill tapeworms, so a stronger wormer is needed.
Many vets recommend worming for tapeworm and roundworms every 6-12 months.
You cannot treat a pregnant or nursing dam, or puppies for tapeworm.
Like roundworms, people can also get tapeworms. People can get tapeworms from ingesting a flea from a dog, which is not hard; considering a flea is so small, it could easily land on your plate, or your hand, and be ingested unnoticed. A tapeworm is not that dangerous to a dog, it is referred to by some as the smart parasite, but it can be dangerous to people, causing serious liver disease.
The tapeworm actually consists of many white segments, joined together like a tape. They tape together and can get to be several feet long. Then they drop off to multiply. It is the segments that are seen as they shed. These segments contain the eggs which look like wiggling grains of rice.
Hookworm (Ancylostoma coaninum)
Looks like roundworm, but has teeth at one end that grab onto the dog’s intestine and attaches itself. It changes the attachment site at least six times per day. There is blood loss to feed the bloodsucking worms, but most blood is lost at the spots of detachment until they heal, thus causing anemia and iron-deficiency. Hookworms and whipworms are bloodsuckers. These can make a puppy anemic.
Heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels. They are about six inches long. They are spread by mosquitoes. The tree-hole mosquito, which breeds in oak trees, is very good at spreading heartworms. They live in areas where oak trees thrive. If you have oak trees in your area, you most likely live in an area where there are heartworms. Heartworms show no symptoms at all until the disease is very advanced. When symptoms do appear they are the same as the symptoms for congestive heart failure—sometimes causing fainting, coughing, difficulty breathing, dull coat, lack of energy, and an enlarged abdomen. Heartworms can be prevented. Dogs should be tested for heartworms, then given a preventive medicine. It is not wise to wait until symptoms appear before treating this dangerous worm. Talk to your vet.
All dogs at some time in their lives have worms, but with modern treatments, they are easily eliminated, and harmless to your pet. IF ALL dogs were regularly treated for worms, the risk to human health could be reduced greatly.
Are not visible to the naked eye. Vet diagnosis only.
Kennel cough is a syndrome affecting canines. Characterized as inflammation of the upper respiratory system, it can be caused by viral infections, such as canine distemper, canine adenovirus, canine parainfluenza virus, canine respiratory coronavirus or Orthomyxoviridae Influenzavirus, or bacterial infections, such as Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is so named because the infection can spread quickly among dogs, such as in the close quarters of a kennel.
Both virus and bacterial causes of kennel cough are spread through the air by infected dogs sneezing and coughing. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact. It is highly contagious, even days or weeks after symptoms disappear. Symptoms begin usually two to three days after exposure, and can progress to pneumonia. From recent studies, kennel cough is now believed to be a zoonotic disease, meaning it can transfer from animal to human and vice versa.
Symptoms can include a harsh, dry cough, retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting in response to light pressing of the trachea or after excitement or exercise. The presence of a fever varies from case to case. The disease can last initially from 10–20 days and can rebreak when the dog is put into a stressful situation which puts stress on the dog’s immune system. Diagnosis is made by seeing these symptoms; having a history of exposure is also helpful, but not always found, as kennel cough is easily spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as the ground, toys, and sidewalks.
Treatment and prevention
Antibiotics are given to treat any bacterial infection present. Cough suppressants are used if the cough is not productive. Prevention is by vaccinating for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella. In kennels, the best prevention is to keep all the cages disinfected. In some cases, such as Doggie Daycares or Non-Traditional Playcare type boarding environments, it is usually not a cleaning or disinfecting issue, but rather an airborne issue, as the dogs are in contact with each other’s saliva and breath. Although most kennels require proof of vaccination, the vaccination is not a fail-safe preventative. Just like human influenza, even after receiving the vaccination, a dog can still contract mutated strains or less severe cases. When dogs have kennel cough they should not be ran or walked very far to prevent it from coming back.
Parvo in dogs is a real tragedy. Once the virus chooses his victim, most dogs will suffer a great deal of pain and anguish. The virus strikes quickly in stealth; both you and your dog will not what know hit him.
One day he looks fine, and in the blink of an eye, he’s lethargic, depressed, refuses to eat or drink any liquids, he will be dehydrated because of uncontrolled vomiting along with extremely foul-smelling diarrhea that is often bloody, he may also have a fever, or chills, and will sleep an unusual amount of hours (day and night), as these are the main signs of Parvo to look out for.
Why is Parvo so devastating?
The incubation period of the virus is anywhere from 3 – 15 days. This is no hibernation period; this is a recruitment/growth period. The virus is looking for ways to become invincible. So, during this seemingly quiet time, he is gathering troops and cloning himself through rapid cell division, thus stacking the deck in his favor.
Now, all of this activity requires fuel (remember everything has a cost), so where does that come from?
The host (in this case, your beloved pet).
Parvo is going after easy food sources (such as your dog’s bone marrow, and then he’s off to shred your dog’s intestines), after all, that is one of the things he does best – find easy targets.
What is the profile of a typical host that Parvo seeks out?
He goes after animals that are weak and have vulnerabilities that he can easily exploit. Here are a few scenarios that the Parvo virus would readily seek out:
- Young immature puppies with underdeveloped immune systems.
- Sickly dogs that have low immune systems, perhaps from excessive chemicals from canine vaccines, de-wormers, commercial (i.e. poor-quality) pet food that is
- Older dogs that may have chronic problems and have been subjected to excessive chemicals.
- Dogs that have had a major illness and are recovering.
- Dogs that have parasites.
In all of the above cases, the animals have weakened immune systems for various reasons, and they become easy victims for Parvo.
- Lethargy and a lack of playfulness.
- Not eating or drinking.
- Vomit (often starting as an off-white mucus, turning later on to a yellow frothy vomit).
- Diarrhea (normally foul-smelling and frequently bloody).