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Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • H1N1 influenza virus emerged in pigs as a genetic sharing of DNA from both human and swine influenza viruses. It caused a deadly pandemic in 2009 and continues to be an important cause of illness today. Pets including cats and dogs can be infected from their owners and become ill. It is not yet thought to transfer from pets to humans. Because influenza viruses appear to be capable of swapping genes, there is potential for new variants of influenza viruses to be generated at any time leading to another pandemic of severe disease in humans and other animals. Good hygiene and exposure restriction should be taken immediately if there is any sign of influenza-like infection to restrict spread between humans and between humans and their pets or domestic animals.

  • Tapeworms are parasites that infect the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, other animals, and humans. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect pets, but the most common species observed in dogs is Dipylidium caninum, which is transmitted through fleas. Risk factors, clinical signs, treatment, and prevention are explained in this handout. Other, less common types of tapeworms that affect dogs and humans are also covered.

  • Tetanus is a medical condition caused by a toxin. This toxin, produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, affects the nerves, spinal cord and brain, leading to hyperexcitability resulting in muscle spasms. Dogs are less susceptible to the effects of tetanus toxin than humans and horses. Tetanus is typically diagnosed based on exam findings. Dogs with tetanus require intensive nursing care. Most dogs develop localized, self-limiting disease, which will respond to appropriate early treatment.

  • **This article has been specifically written for dog walkers and how they can reduce their exposure to COVID-19.** COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease in humans, initially discovered late in 2019. Although all coronaviruses are related, they are not all the same virus; SARS-CoV-2 cannot cause canine coronavirus infection, and vice versa. As a dog walker, it is important to limit direct contact with your clients. People can shed the virus without showing any symptoms of disease, so it is important to practice physical distancing even with clients who appear healthy. It is also important to limit your contact with potentially contaminated items in your clients’ homes, whether they are at home or not. The most important things you can do to minimize your risk of infection, and minimize the risk of transferring infection to your clients, is to be cautious when interacting with clients and when touching anything that could be contaminated. Communicate with your clients regularly during this pandemic. Having information about your clients’ health can help you avoid taking unnecessary risks. Finally, if you develop any signs of COVID-19, including cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, it is important that you stay home from work.

  • **This article has been specifically written for pet sitters and how they can reduce their exposure to COVID-19.** COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease in humans, initially discovered late in 2019. Although all coronaviruses are related, they are not all the same virus. As a pet sitter, it is important to limit direct contact with your clients. People can shed the virus without showing any symptoms of disease, so it is important to practice physical distancing even with clients who appear healthy. It is also important to limit your contact with potentially contaminated items in your clients’ homes, whether they are at home or not. The most important things you can do to minimize your risk of infection, and minimize the risk of transferring infection to your clients, is to be cautious when interacting with clients and when touching anything that could be contaminated, wear a mask, and maintain at least 6 feet distance from your clients. Communicate with your clients regularly during this pandemic. Having information about your clients’ health can help you avoid taking unnecessary risks. Finally, if you develop any signs of COVID-19, including cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, it is important that you stay home from work.

  • Trifluridine is an antiviral topical medication used to treat viral infections of the eye, such as herpesvirus-1 in cats. Give as directed. Side effects include eye irritation. Do not use in pets with an allergy to this medication. If a negative reaction occurs, please call the veterinary office.

  • Tularemia is an infection of the bacteria Francisella tularensis and is most common in rabbits and rodents. Infection in dogs occurs from ingestion of an infected animal, contaminated water, or the bite of a blood sucking insect. Tularemia causes mild illness in healthy dogs. More severe clinical signs include enlarged lymph nodes and draining abscesses. Diagnosis includes physical exam, bloodwork, and urinalysis, as well as paired serum titers. PCR can also be used to identify the bacteria in a blood sample. Treatment includes antibiotics, surgical removal of any draining abscesses and any other supportive warranted by the dog’s condition. Tularemia is a reportable zoonotic disease.

  • Veterinarians routinely recommend certain vaccines for all dogs(called core vaccines) whereas others are used more selectively according to the dog's environment and lifestyle. Vaccines work by stimulating the body's immune system to recognize and fight a particular microorganism such as a virus, bacteria, or other infectious organisms. Depending on the disease, the vaccine will help the body prevent infection or lessen the severity of infection and promote rapid recovery. Vaccination will protect the vast majority of dogs but under some circumstances, vaccine breakdowns may occur.

  • Valley fever is a fungal infection caused by Coccidioides immitis. In the US it is most commonly found in the southwestern states with California and Arizona being most affected. The most common method of infection is through inhalation of spores that are released by disturbance of soil such as while digging. These spores infect the lungs forming spherules. Dogs with healthy immune systems avoid serious infection by walling off the spherules; however, those that have weakened immune systems can become ill. The two main forms of disease are primary and disseminated. The primary disease occurs in the lungs causing coughing, lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, and depression. Disseminated disease occurs when the fungus migrates to different areas of the body including the bones, joints, eyes, and rarely the brain. Diagnosis includes blood tests (including titer tests) and radiographs. Treatment requires prolonged anti-fungal agents and is generally successful in respiratory or primary cases; however, patients affected by the disseminated form have a more guarded prognosis.

  • Whipworms are intestinal parasites that are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long. They live in the intestinal tract of dogs where they cause severe irritation. Whipworm infection results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. Any dog with chronic large bowel diarrhea should be suspected to have whipworms, even if the stool sample was negative. Whipworms are far less common today than in previous years, because of widespread use of modern heartworm prevention products.