Dogs, just like humans, can spread diseases to one another. Even if a dog does not come in regular contact with other animals at a kennel or park, they are still susceptible to contagious illness. These are the top seven diseases dogs spread to each other that pet owners should be aware of.
A highly contagious virus, canine distemper can infect dogs through particles in the air or through respiratory secretions. Symptoms include runny nose, eye discharge, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, seizures and even paralysis. Distemper is a life-threatening illness, but it is preventable through regular vaccination.
Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)
Parvovirus attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal system and causes vomiting and very serious, bloody diarrhea. The virus is spread through direct contact between dogs, or through touching contaminated stool, food bowls, water bowls, leashes, surfaces and human hands and clothes. The virus itself is very hardy and can survive in soil for many years. Parvo is often fatal, but it is preventable through regular vaccination.
Just like human influenza, “dog flu” is spread through respiratory secretions or contact with infected surfaces. Symptoms include coughing, fever and runny nose. Like human flu, canine influenza cannot be cured with medication, it can only be treated. Infected dogs can develop secondary infections, and should be treated as soon as flu is suspected.
Kennel cough is highly contagious, but preventable through vaccination. Infected dogs will show symptoms that include congestion, runny nose and the disease’s signature hacking cough. A dog with Kennel Cough should be treated by a vet immediately to prevent spreading to other dogs and to reduce the chances of the dog developing a serious secondary infection.
All mammals are susceptible to the deadly virus that causes rabies, which is why most local and state governments require pets to be vaccinated regularly. Rabies attacks the nervous system and is spread through saliva usually through a bite or contamination of a skin wound. Rabies is transmittable across species, including wildlife and it is fatal once signs of the disease are present. When a dog has been bitten by another animal, it should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.
While many fungal infections are spread through the air, some, like ringworm, can be spread from dog to dog. Dogs can spread fungal infections through contact. Different fungal infections have different symptoms, but they typically present in the form of extreme skin irritation and hair loss around the affected area. Most all fungal infections of the skin can be easily treated.
Intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms can be spread through contact with infected feces. Dogs typically contract intestinal parasites by stepping in infected stool, eating contaminated soil, drinking out of a contaminated bowl or licking their paws after coming in contact with a parasite. Some may contract parasites through fleas or eating infected rodents. Parasites cause malnutrition and can lead to blood loss, however they are easily treatable through de-worming medications.
While owner can never prevent their dog from catching every contagious illness floating around, many can be prevented through vaccination and responsible pet ownership. Visit your vet regularly to ensure your dog stays up to date on shots and when your dog comes inside from the outdoors, wipe down his paws with a washcloth and mild soap. Keep an eye out for symptoms of illness, and always call your vet if you dog appears to be sick.