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Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease of humans that was first discovered in late 2019. The illness is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, which is a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. Certain animals can be infected by the COVID-19 virus, but it appears to be an infrequent occurrence. If you contract COVID-19, you will need to remain quarantined on your property which may make caring for dogs a bit more challenging. If you suspect that you may have COVID-19 (with or without a positive test result), you should minimize contact with your pets. Just as you would quarantine yourself from the other human members of your home while sick, you should also quarantine yourself from your pets. If you are hospitalized and your pets must be cared for by a boarding kennel or pet sitter, inform the kennel or pet sitter that you are ill, allowing them to take the necessary precautions.

  • Chagas disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, is an infection that is primarily observed in Latin America. In recent years, however, this infection has been observed at various sites in the Southern United States. Chagas disease is spread by the bite of certain insects, including the Mexican Kissing Beetle and other related insects. The clinical signs of Chagas disease are variable and non-specific. There is currently no consensus on the best method of treatment for Chagas disease.

  • Cheyletiellosis is an uncommon but highly contagious skin parasite of dogs, cats, humans, and rabbits caused by Cheyletiella spp. mites. The most important clinical sign of cheyletiellosis is scaling or dandruff. Due to the large size of the skin mite, it is easily seen under a microscope set on low magnification. Cheyletiella mites are susceptible to most topical insecticides and the prognosis is excellent.

  • Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a single-celled organism (protozoa) called coccidia. Some infections in dogs are not associated with any detectable clinical signs; however, puppies and debilitated adult dogs may have severe watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. The most common drug used to eliminate coccidia is a sulfa-type antibiotic, sulfadimethoxine. Reinfection of susceptible dogs is common, so environmental disinfection is important. Good hygiene and proper disposal of dog feces are important in minimizing the risk of transmission of all canine parasites to humans or other animals.

  • 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.

  • 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 is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic dogs and other animals such as ferrets, skunks, and raccoons. It is an incurable, often fatal, multisystemic (affecting multiple organs) disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. The disease is spread mainly by direct contact between a susceptible dog and a dog showing symptoms. The main clinical signs are diarrhea, vomiting, thick yellow discharge from the eyes and nose, cough and, in severe cases, seizures and neurological signs. As with most viral infections, there is no specific treatment. Fortunately we have highly effective vaccines to prevent this deadly 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.