Dog:

Canine Rabies

Presentation: An acute viral disease of the central nervous system. It can be transmitted to humans and dogs through the saliva of a bite from an infected animal; dogs, foxes, raccoons, skunks and bats among others.  Once the virus enters the dog’s body, it replicates in the cells of the muscles and spreads to the nearest nerve fibers.  The vaccination is mandatory in all 50 states; however, it is believed that only 50% of dogs are really vaccinated.  Veterinary care is extremely important for an infected animal or for prevention of the virus.

Incubation period: About 3-8 weeks from date of exposure but can be as little as 9 days in rare cases.

Prognosis: Almost always fatal. Because there is no cure, when diagnosed, dog is usually euthanized.

Symptoms: Fever, seizures, paralysis, hydrophobia (fear of water), inability to swallow, lack of muscle coordination, unusual shyness or aggression, excessive excitability, excessive or frothy salivation.  Sometimes the dog dies without any symptoms.

 

Canine Distemper

Presentation: A contagious and serious viral disease with no known cure. Canine distemper belongs to the Morbillivirus class of viruses; a relative of the measles virus which affects humans, the Rinderpest virus that affects cattle and the Phocine virus that causes seal distemper.  Young, unvaccinated puppies and non-immunized older dogs tend to be more susceptible to the disease.  The disease is spread by air, or by direct or indirect contact, (i.e. utensils or bedding) with the infected animals.  The disease initially attacks a dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes.  It then attacks the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, spinal cord and brain.

Incubation period: About 7 days from date of exposure.

 Prognosis: In puppies, disease is usually fatal. In adult dogs that recover, 50% will show epileptic signs permanently.

Symptoms: High fever; over 103.5°F, red eyes, and a watery discharge from the nose and eyes. Other symptoms are lethargy, anorexia, seizures and paralysis.  Persistent coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. In the later stages of the disease, the virus attacks other systems of the dog’s body, particularly the nervous system.

 

Parvovirus

Presentation: A viral infection that is highly contagious.  The virus manifests in two different forms.  The most common form is intestinal.  This type affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  The dog becomes quickly dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid.  The less common form is cardiac, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies and often leads to death.  Most cases seen are in puppies between six weeks and six months old, and have been reduced radically by early vaccination in young puppies.

Incubation period: 7-14 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: The disease usually lasts 1-2 weeks after onset.

Symptoms: Fever, however, they can have hypothermia (low body temperature), severe bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia and sever weight loss.  The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably red and the heart may beat too rapidly.  There also may be abdominal pain or discomfort when palpated.

 

Adenovirus

Presentation: A viral disease that is caused by the canine adenovirus CAV-1, a type of DNA virus that causes upper respiratory tract infections.  The virus targets the functional parts of the organs, notably the liver, kidneys, eyes and the interior lining of the blood vessels, then spreads to the bloodstream. It attacks and uses specific white cells to replicate and damage cells that are involved in protein synthesis and storage, and transformation of carbohydrates. During this state of the infection, the virus is shed into the feces and saliva, making both infectious to other dogs.  In less healthy dogs, chronic hepatitis occurs; a severe condition, causing inflammation of the front of the eye, also known as “hepatitis blue eye.”

Incubation period: The virus begins in the tonsils around 4-8 days after exposure. In healthy dogs, the virus runs its course in about 10-14 days but will continue to shed from the kidneys in the urine for 6-9 months.

Prognosis: There is no cure for this disease and the outlook for most dogs with hepatitis is guarded to fair.  If hepatitis is diagnosed early, and if treatment is started early, survival times may be prolonged. Unfortunately, most dogs with hepatitis are diagnosed only after they develop noticeable symptoms, and this usually happens only after the disease is quite advanced. In those cases, the prognosis for long-term survival is guarded to grave.

Symptoms: Severity of symptoms depend on the immune health of the dog. Acute canine hepatitis can cause fever, central nervous system problems, collapse of blood vessels and coagulation disorders.  In very severe cases, death can occur within hours.  Immune healthy dogs will show lethargy, anorexia transient fever, tonsillitis, vomiting diarrhea, enlarged liver or abdominal pain.  Late state infection can result in eye inflammation and disease if not watched closely.

 

Parainfluenza

Presentation: Highly contagious airborne respiratory virus.  It can be transmitted by air or indirectly through the belongings of an affected dog, such as toys and dishes.  It is one of many viruses that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough.   Tracheobronchitis is inflammation of the trachea and bronchi.  It is usually passed between dogs in close quarters, such as boarding facilities.  It can be passed from cats to dogs and vice versa.

Incubation period: 2-4 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: It is a non-life threatening cold-like condition that causes coughing and other symptoms in dogs.  However, it can have the most severe complications in very young or older dogs, both that have immature or compromised immune systems.

Symptoms: Persistent cough, retching, and watery nasal discharge.  In mild cases, dogs are often active and eating normally.  In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy.  Death can occur but is uncommon.

Presentation: Highly contagious airborne respiratory virus. It is the most common virus for kennel cough and can be transmitted by air or indirectly through the belongings of an affected dog, such as toys and dishes.  It is one of many viruses that can cause infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough.   Tracheobronchitis is inflammation of the trachea and bronchi.    It is usually passed between dogs in close quarters, such as boarding facilities.  It can be passed from cats to dogs and vice versa. This strain of the disease is the only one that can be transmitted from dogs to humans with weakened immune systems.

Incubation period: 2-4 days from the date of exposure and usually in the summer or fall.

Prognosis: It is a non-life threatening cold-like condition that causes coughing and other symptoms in dogs.  However, it can have the most severe complications in very young or older dogs, both that have immature or compromised immune systems.

Symptoms: Persistent cough, retching, and watery nasal discharge.  In mild cases, dogs are often active and eating normally.  In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy.  Death can occur in less healthy dogs, but is uncommon.

 

Lyme Disease

Presentation: One of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world.  Kidney disease appears to be more prevalent in Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Bernese Mountain dogs. In additions to kidney disease, more serious complications can also include heart or nervous system disease.  Transmission of the disease has been reported in dogs throughout the United States and Europe, but it is most prevalent in the upper Midwestern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coastal states.

Incubation period: 2-5 months after infection.

Prognosis: Non-life threatening disease and dogs respond well to treatment.

Symptoms: Recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Kidney disease can appear, as noted above, as the dog begins to have vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildup.  Other symptoms can include, stiff walk with an arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing, and fever.

 

Leptospirosis

Presentation: Bacterial infection acquired when the bacteria penetrates the skin and spreads through the body by way of the bloodstream.  The infection mainly occurs in subtropical, tropical, and wet environments. More prevalent in muddy, marshy areas that have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife.  Heavily irrigated pastures are also common sources of the infection and in the United States and occurs commonly in the fall season.  Dogs can also contract the infection from contact with the urine of an infected animal.  It can be transmitted to humans and other animals; with children being the most at risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet.

Incubation period: 2-14 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: Non-life threatening disease.  Dogs respond well to treatment in all phases of the disease.

Symptoms: Sudden fever, sore muscles, stiffness in the muscles and legs, most commonly with a stiff gait.  Animals may also have shivering, weakness, and lack of appetite.  Other symptoms can include increased thirst and urination with related dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, cough and difficulty breathing.

 

Canine Influenza

Presentation: The virus that causes “dog flu”, Influenza Type A (H3N8), was first identified in Florida in 2004.  It affects the respiratory system and is extremely contagious.  Some dogs can be exposed to the virus and fight off infection without any outward symptoms.    With a severe case, a dog can develop hemorrhagic pneumonia that affects the capillaries in the lungs.  They can also contract bacterial pneumonia which can further complicate the illness.

Incubation period: 1-5 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: With a mild case with symptoms, the virus will last usually 10-30 days and will go away on its own.

Symptoms: Coughing, sneezing, lack of appetite, fever, and sometimes a runny nose.

 

Cats:

Feline Rabies

Presentation: A viral disease that specifically affects a cat’s central nervous system.  The primary way the virus is transmitted through a bite from a diseased carrier; namely, foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats.  The virus is retained in the rabid animal’s salivary glands and is transmitted through their saliva.  Once the virus enters the cat’s body, it replicates in the cells of the muscles, then spreads to the nearest nerve fibers, then to the central nervous system.    The disease can be transmitted to humans, usually through a bite not scratches.  The vaccination is mandatory in all 50 states; however, it is believed that only 50% of cats are really vaccinated.

Incubation period: The onset of rabies from the original bite can be from days to months, however, once symptoms have begun, the virus progresses rapidly.

Prognosis: Almost always fatal. Because there is no cure, when diagnosed, dog is usually euthanized.

Symptoms:  Fever, seizures, paralysis, inability to swallow, lack of muscle coordination, unusual shyness or aggression, excessive excitability, or excessive or frothy salivation.  Sometimes the animal dies without any symptoms.

Feline Distemper (Panleukopenia)

Presentation: Highly contagious and life-threatening virus; however uncommon in well vaccinated cats.   The virus affects the rapidly dividing blood cells in the body, primarily the cells in the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and the stem cells of a developing fetus.  In the unvaccinated population, feline distemper is one of the most important and deadly feline diseases.  Kittens between the ages of 2 to 6 months are at the highest risk of contracting the disease.

Incubation period: About 14 days, however, is contagious 2-3 days before signs of sickness are shown.

Prognosis: In kittens, disease is usually fatal. In adult cats that recover, they will be immune to any further infection of the virus.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, loss of interest in food, and anemia.  They may also have a rough hair coat, hiding for long periods of time, and change in posture or coordination.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

Presentation: A virus that impairs the cat’s immune system and caused certain types of cancer.  This virus infection is responsible for most deaths in household cats.  Males are more likely to contract the virus than females, and it’s usually seen between the ages of 1 to 6 years old.  Feline Leukemia is usually contracted from cat-to-cat transmission (bites, or sharing utensils and litter pans).  It can also be transmitted to a kitten at birth or through the mother’s milk.  Kittens are much more susceptible to the virus, as are cats that have outdoor access.  There are 3 types of infection and cats can have one or all 3:

  • FeLV-A: Occurs in all cats infected with FeLV. It severely weakens the immune system.
  • FeLV-B: Occurs in about 50% of FeLV infected cats, and causes tumors and other abnormal tissue growths.
  • FeLV-C: The least common type, occurring in about 1% of FeLV infected cats. Causes severe anemia.

Incubation period: Has an incubation period of about 8 weeks. If you take in a stray who tests negative for feline leukemia it is a good idea to have the cat retested for the virus about 2 months later.

Prognosis: Is second only to trauma as the leading cause of death in cats, killing 85% of persistently infected felines within three years of diagnosis.

Symptoms: The more common symptoms to all three types are, lethargy, progressive weight loss, abscesses, diarrhea, fever, wobbly uncoordinated gait, inflammation of nose and cornea, inflammation of the gums, and specific cancers.

Feline Herpesvirus

Presentation: The most common upper respiratory virus in cats worldwide.  It causes a condition called Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, or sometimes called feline influenza.  The virus is extremely common in shelters.  Some studies have indicated positive blood titers for herpes virus as high as 90% in feral and shelter cat populations.    The virus is never truly gone, even though symptoms may disappear, it lays dormant for periods of times and then starts reproducing causing flare-ups.

Incubation period: 2-4 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: The virus usually runs its course in 4-7 days.

Symptoms: Sneezing (especially occurring as “spasms”), discharge from the eyes or nose, coughing or excessive swallowing, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, dehydration, and raised 3rd eyelid.

Calicivirus

Presentation: Common respiratory disease in cats.  The virus attacks the respiratory tract, lungs and nasal passages; the mouth, with ulceration of the tongue, intestines and the musculoskeletal system.  Cats typically acquire the disease after encountering other infected cats.  It is highly contagious in unvaccinated cats, and is commonly seen in multi-cat facilities, shelters, and poorly ventilated households.    Because feline Calicivirus is resistant to disinfectants, cats may come into contact with the virus in almost any environment.  Lack of vaccination or improper vaccination is thought to be an important risk factor, as well as lowered immune response do to pre-existing infections or diseases.

Incubation period: 2-6 days from the date of exposure.

Prognosis: The infection will typically last for 14-21 days.  During this entire time, the cat will potentially be infectious to other cats.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge, pneumonia, difficulty breathing, arthritis, lameness, pain and fever.  Cats can also develop ulcers on the tongue, hard palate, tip of the nose, lips, or around the claws.

Fenline Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Presentation: A contagious bacterial disease of cats that primarily causes upper respiratory tract infections.  Easily spread in kennels is most severe in young kittens (less than 6 weeks old) and in kittens living in less than ideal hygienic conditions.  However, any cat with a pre-existing airway disease (herpes virus or calicivirus infections) is susceptible to the disease no matter how old it is.

Incubation period: 3-10 days from date of exposure.

Prognosis: The infection will generally last 7-10 days.

Symptoms: Fever, lethargy, sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing and crackling lung sounds with moist cough and wheezing.  Infected cat can also have swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck under the jaw.

Notes:

  • Symptoms section is not an all-inclusive list.
  • Vaccinations are available for all diseases listed above. Contact your veterinarian if you feel your dog or cat is infected or sick.

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