Preventing Common Canine Diseases

Many diseases common to dogs can be prevented by having your dog vaccinated according to the City of Long Beach regulations and your veterinarian's advice.

Common canine illnesses include the following:

Rabies. Rabies is a scary disease that is spread mainly through the wild animal population in an area. The signs are foaming at the mouth and behavior uncommon to the animal. However, Rabies can be difficult to diagnose and any abnormal behavior in a dog should be viewed with suspicion. Vaccination for Rabies are State of California, Los Angeles County, and City of Long Beach laws.

Canine Distemper. Canine distemper is a disease that attacks the nervous system of a dog. It usually causes death and can affect dogs of all ages. Since puppies are the most common victims of this dreadful disease, the vaccination program every three weeks is designed to help prevent distemper. Distemper is a virus that can develop pneumonia as secondary bacterial infection takes over the body. The distemper virus attacks the brain within a few weeks and death or euthanasia is generally the outcome. Vaccinations are very effective in preventing this disease.

Canine Hepatitis. Canine Hepatitis is a viral disease which affects the liver. Fortunately, Hepatitis is rarely seen to day due to the effectiveness of vaccinations. Most all distemper vaccines are combined with hepatitis vaccine to control most diseases.

Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that usually affects the kidneys and other organs of the body. If the kidneys are affected the puppy usually dies. Leptospirosis like hepatitis is not seen often. The bacteria is most often carried in the urine of rats. The disease was seen more often in farm dogs that could be exposed to rat urine. Distemper vaccine does not always have leptospirosis vaccine included.

Parvovirus. Parvovirus is an intestinal virus in dogs. The virus can remain in the area for months and can be transmitted on your shoes or other articles. Your dog does not have to be around a sick puppy to get parvo virus. The symptoms include depression, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The treatment is aggressive supportive care with I.V. fluids and medicines for vomiting. Without proper veterinary care this disease is most often fatal. Vaccinations are generally very effective in preventing the disease. dogs over one year of age rarely will contract the disease, but vaccinations are recommended as an insurance that the disease will not strike your dog.

Parasites. Intestinal worm checks are tests done on a dog's bowel movement to see if there are any worm eggs present in the dogs' body. In South Georgia we see hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, tapeworms, and Giardia. Only two of the six worms common to Georgia can be seen without the aid of a microscope. Hookworms can be spread through a dog's feces or can penetrate the dog's skin, or travel through the milk to nursing puppies. They attach to a dog's intestines to feed on the blood. Hookworms can cause major blood loss which is sometimes fatal to puppies. The baby stage of hookworms are called sandworms. These baby worms can penetrate the skin of people and migrate under the skin causing a human health hazard.

Roundworms can be spread for mother to puppies or through soil that has eggs in it. They can cause bloated bellies and diarrhea and vomiting. Roundworms can be transmitted to people also and can cause some serious health problems relating to loss of sight. Whipworms can cause diarrhea, weight loss and dehydration. They are very hard to detect and also to eliminate. Whipworms do not lays eggs very often so they can be overlooked during the worm checks performed by a veterinarian.

Heartworm. Prevention of heartworm disease is very simple. Heartworm preventative for dogs is usually started between 2-3 months of age and the preventative is given once each month for life (a daily heartworm preventative is also available). Heartworm originally was confined to the Southeastern United States, but since heartworms are spread by mosquitoes the parasite has been diagnosed in the Southern California area. Due to our climate in coastal Southern California, the preventative should be given all year long. Heartworms are the most life threatening parasite dogs can have. The microfilia (baby heartworms) are deposited in the dog's body by a mosquito bite. These baby worms grow and move to the heart where the damage to your pet's health is done. Symptoms of heartworms do not show up sometimes for years. but early tests performed by your veterinarian will diagnose the disease before much damage is done. Your dog should be on the medication every month for life with once yearly testing to make sure the preventative is doing it's job.