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Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Current evidence suggests that person-to-person spread is the main source of infection. While there is evidence of transmission from humans to dogs and cats, it does not appear to be a common event at this time. If you suspect that you are ill with COVID-19, you should practice the same precautions with your pet as you would with people: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and avoid cuddling and other close contact. If your pet needs veterinary care while you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to your veterinary clinic yourself.

  • A cutaneous histiocytoma is a common benign (harmless) tumor of the skin in dogs, typically younger ones. Their development, appearance, diagnosis, and treatment are explained in this handout.

  • Diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying problem that may be minor or very serious. Some cases may resolve on their own or with minimal treatment, while other cases require in-depth diagnostic testing and more aggressive treatment to address the underlying condition. The possible causes, diagnostic tests, and treatment protocols for diarrhea in dogs are numerous and are explained in this handout.

  • Discospondylitis is a bacterial or fungal infection of the intervertebral disks and the adjacent vertebral bones. It primarily affects dogs, though rarely can affect cats. It affects large breed dogs more often and generally starts clinically as back pain. The diagnosis and treatment of this condition are outlined in this handout.

  • Distemper virus is a highly contagious disease that can affect multiple body systems and is potentially fatal. Puppies are most susceptible, and respiratory, gastrointestinal, or neurologic signs may be seen. Vaccines are available and are highly effective at preventing disease.

  • Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne bacterial (Ehrlichia) infection spread by the brown dog tick found in many areas of North America. There appear to be three stages of disease: acute, sub-clinical, and chronic or clinical. Abnormal findings on initial lab work include thrombocytopenia, anemia, hyperglobulinemia, and proteinuria. In-clinic ELISA tests can be used to screen for exposure but will be negative if the infection is new. Blood can be sent for PCR testing to demonstrate infection and to determine the species of Ehrlichia. Prevention includes minimizing exposure to ticks and use of tick prevention medication regularly.

  • Flea and tick prevention consists of a variety of products used to control flea and/or tick infestations on your pet and to prevent infestations inside the home. Fleas and ticks can be found worldwide. Fleas can live in many climate zones, but they prefer humid and shady areas, such as under leaf litter. Ticks can also live in many climate zones, and prefer humid and shady environments, especially areas with woods, shrubs, weeds, and tall grasses. Prevention is key to avoid infestations in your home, severe allergic reactions (in both pets and people), and to prevent disease. Many flea and tick preventives are available. Your veterinarian will help you find an appropriate product that works best for your and your pet.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic protozoan. These parasites attach themselves to the intestinal wall, and the damage causes an acute, sudden onset of foul-smelling diarrhea. Diagnosis may be by routine fecal flotation or presumptively based on clinical signs. Fenbendazole and metronidazole are the drugs most commonly used to treat giardiasis.

  • Heartworm disease is serious and potentially life-threatening to dogs. Treatment involves several components to combat potential bacterial infection, kill the heartworm larvae (microfilaria), kill the adult heartworms, and then test to confirm successful treatment. Complete rest for a dog undergoing treatment is essential. The prognosis for dogs after heartworm treatment is generally good if the pet owner follows all veterinary recommendations closely.

  • Hepatozoonosis in dogs is caused by ingestion of one of two organisms: H. americanum and H. canis. Both parasites are more common in the southern United States. The clinical sign and treatments for dogs with hepatozoonosis differ depending on the parasite species causing the infection. In either case, with appropriate treatment, the prognosis is generally good.