How to Treat Respiratory Infections in Dogs

Respiratory infections in dogs are common and most dogs will develop a respiratory infection at some point in their lifetime. Some dogs will also have recurring respiratory infections throughout their lifetimes. These facts make it important that pet owners learn how to treat respiratory infections in a dog.

Most respiratory infections are caused by cold viruses and the most common types of respiratory infections are dog influenza and kennel cough. If not detected and treated early, these minor infections can develop into full blown pneumonia.

Symptoms of respiratory infections include the following:

* A nasal discharge which is usually yellow but may also be transparent depending on the cause and type of infection.
* Discharges of clear fluid from the eyes, often accompanied by swelling of the eyes. A dog may also develop conjunctivitis (pink eye).
* Coughing which becomes more severe at night.
* High fever.
* Sneezing or wheezing.
* Lack of appetite.
* Salivating excessively.
* Dehydration.
* Lethargy.

These symptoms are usually more severe in puppies and senior dogs.

A respiratory infection can be diagnosed by a veterinarian based on the dog’s symptoms and testing to determine if the infection is bacterial, viral, or fungal.

Minor respiratory infections in dogs usually last between 5 to 10 days and require no treatment. During this time it is important to keep the dog hydrated and well fed. If the dog is severely dehydrated and undernourished, the vet may need to administer IV fluids and/or antibiotics.

Care must be taken with your pet because respiratory infections in dogs are highly contagious and can easily be transmitted through the air or through saliva from dog to dog. These infections are not transmittable to humans so you needn’t worry about infecting yourself or your family.

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Canine Distemper

For many years canine distemper was one of the most deadly viral diseases affecting dogs. Since the introduction of a vaccine to combat the disease, the incidence of distemper infections has dropped considerably.

Good vaccination practices in the U.S. have played a major role in the reduction of distemper cases in this country, but unfortunately, canine distemper is still a huge problem in other parts of the world.

The canine distemper virus is an RNA virus. A variation of the canine distemper virus causes measles in humans.

Canine distemper can affect dogs of any age but is more likely to affect younger puppies rather than older dogs. This may be due to an acquired immunity resulting from a canine distemper vaccination, or to exposure to the virus, resulting in the dog developing an immunity to the virus.

The wide range of clinical signs accompanying an infection of distemper often makes it very difficult to diagnose a young dog with distemper. In some dogs, a temporary fever and a lack of appetite, sudden lethargy or mild depression, are often the only signs of the onset of distemper. Some dogs infected with the distemper virus may have discharges from the nose and eyes in addition to coughing, a fever, lack of an appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. It is not uncommon for an infected dog to display some but not all of the symptoms associated with canine distemper.

Distemper infections often go undiagnosed when an owner believes the dog just has a cold or some other non-life threatening illness. The unfortunate consequence of misdiagnosing a dog’s distemper symptoms could result in the death of the dog.

Some dogs are able to survive the initial viral infection but later develop neurologic signs in one to two weeks after becoming infected. These signs include seizures, sudden and strange changes in behavior, and constantly walking in circles. Many dogs who develop neurologic signs develop rhythmic motions or twitches. Sometimes an affected dog will act as if it’s chewing on something due to continuous contractions of the head muscles. If a dog is able to survive the initial viral infection and does not display any neurologic damage, it does not mean the dog is completely in the clear. A distemper infection can also lead to retinal damage and discoloration of the dog’s cornea. Sometimes, the dog’s skin, nose and foot pads will become very hard.

There is a period of time that the virus remains dormant after a dog is infected. The clinical signs of distemper will begin to show approximately 10 to 14 days after infection. If a puppy is vaccinated against distemper but has already been infected with the virus, the vaccination will not be effective in preventing the disease.

Currently there is no specialized treatment that can kill the distemper virus. Prevention of infection is the best way to guard your puppy or dog against canine distemper. Be sure your new puppy is vaccinated at approximately 6 weeks of age. The vaccinations will need to be continued until the puppy reaches 12 to 16 weeks of age. The distemper vaccinations are given in 3 to 4 week intervals. Injection of the vaccine has to be repeated due to interference with the vaccine from antibodies in the mother’s milk being passed on to the puppies. These antibodies prevent the vaccine from being effective in about 75% of all puppies vaccinated at six weeks of age, approximately 25% of puppies vaccinated at nine weeks of age, and only a small number of puppies vaccinated at twelve weeks of age.

The follow-up vaccinations provide protection to almost all puppies who receive the vaccine.

Canine distemper virus is found in all the body secretions from an infected animal. Raccoons and skunks are often carriers of this deadly disease, so it’s a good idea to watch your dog carefully when venturing into areas where these animals are often found. Living in the city does not automatically exclude the possibility of an infected raccoon or skunk because these animals love to raid neighborhood garbage cans when foraging for food.

Fungal Infections in Dogs

Blastomyces dermatididis is a fungal organism that causes Blastomycosis, a fungal infection in dogs. The fungi is found in sandy, acidic soil in close proximity to water. It can cause severe respiratory problems and may lead to blindness. The first symptom of this disease is the appearance of crusty sores on the skin.

Blastomycosis is a serious systemic fungal disease that primarily infects dogs as well as people and can cause respiratory, eye, and skin lesions. It can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly. Even with proper treatment many dogs do not recover from the infection.

The disease is usually found only in the area of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio River valleys, the Mid-Atlantic States and parts of Quebec, Manitoba, and Ontario.

A blastomycosis fungal infection in dogs happens when the animal inhales the blastomycosis spores found in the soil. The spores then travel down into the airways of the lungs and an infection develops. Once it infects the dog’s lungs it spreads throughout the body to the skin, eyes, bones, lymph nodes, subcutaneous tissue, and brain.

The symptoms of blastomycosis include lack of appetite, fever, depression, weight loss, coughing, eye problems, lameness, or skin problems. These symptoms may be present for a few days or a few weeks.

Approximately 85% of dogs who have blastomycosis also have lung lesions and 40% have eye lesions. Skin lesions are found in 20% to 40% of infected dogs.

The most common treatment for this disease is oral administration of the antifungal drug Itraconazole. This drug needs to be given to a dog every day for 60 to 90 days. It is the safest and most effective way to treat the disease, but the drug was meant for humans and is very expensive. An injectable drug, Amphotericin B, is also prescribed by some vets, and must be given intravenously several times a week by the veterinarian.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect against blastomycosis.

Histoplasmosis is a fungus found in dust that causes infection in dogs under four years of age. The result is a swelling of the lymphatic nodes in the neck and armpits. The fungus is found in the soil and enters the body through a dog’s lungs, causing a range of respiratory and intestinal symptoms. Some animals are able to recover from the infection without any medication while others require treatment with an antifungal medication.

Infections are more common in dogs who live outside or spend a good amount of time wandering around forested areas. Dogs become infected by inhaling the spore-like particles of the fungus present in the soil. The symptoms are varied and depend on the severity of the infection. Many healthy dogs recover from minor respiratory infections on their own. Dogs with a weak immune system may develop a more severe infection that can spread to its intestinal system, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, or even the eyes.

The most common symptoms are weight loss, fever, and loss of appetite. A dog may also have a cough and experience difficulty in breathing. X-rays of the chest and abdomen are usually necessary to detect the organisms in infected tissue. A biopsy of infected tissue may be done because the tissues often contain some of the small fungal organisms.

In simple cases of the respiratory form of histoplasmosis, treatment may not be necessary because the dog will often clear the infection on its own. However, the risk of the infection spreading or becoming more severe is very real.

Ringworm Infections in Dogs

There are several types of fungal skin infections in dogs, each having a different cause. It is not difficult for a dog to contract a fungal infection from dirt, other infected dogs, and even from another dog’s feces. Ringworm is the most common type of fungal infection affecting a dog’s skin. This infection is not caused by “worms” as its name implies but is caused by fungi. The name “ringworm” derives from the appearance of a dog’s skin which develops red circles and hair loss when infected.

A ringworm infection can easily be transmitted to humans and should be treated as soon as it appears on a dog’s skin. Never touch these sores with your bare hands, instead always wear gloves when handling a dog infected with ringworms.

Several different fungi can cause ringworm. The ringworm fungus is most prevalent in hot, humid climates even though most cases of ringworm occur in the fall and winter.

Ringworm infection can be transmitted by direct contact with the lesions of another infected dog or by contact with a surface contaminated with the spores such as grooming equipment or brushes. Ringworm spores can survive for long periods in the environment, making it possible for a dog to contract ringworm just about anywhere other dogs or cats have been. Young dogs are most often infected, and dogs with a suppressed immune system caused by other diseases or overuse of steroids, are also more susceptible to contracting the disease.

Most healthy adult dogs have some resistance to ringworm and will never develop symptoms from the fungus.

Dogs with ringworm often display a distinctive set of symptoms, most often a small round lesion without hair. The lesion will often have scaly skin in the center and sometimes small abscesses appear in the lesion. The lesion may start as a small spot and continue to grow in size and it may or may not be irritated and itchy. The lesions are most common on the head but can also occur on a dog’s legs, feet, or tail.

The best and most accurate way to identify a ringworm infection is by collecting scales and crust from the dog’s skin and coat and have them cultured by a veterinarian.

Most small, isolated lesions on healthy dogs and puppies will heal on their own within 4 months. In more severe cases, several different treatments are used. Isolated lesions can be treated with an antifungal medication such as miconazole cream, Lotrimin cream, or 1% chlorhexidine ointment which need to be applied to the infected areas twice a day. More severe lesions need to be treated with antifungal shampoos such as 0.5% chlorhexidine shampoo, ketoconazole shampoo, 2% chlorhexidine solution, or 2% miconazole shampoo applied every two to four days.

There are currently no dependable vaccines to prevent ringworm infection in dogs.

Kidney Disease in Dogs

Kidney disease in dogs can be caused by several factors; it can be a causal effect of the dog’s age, severe dehydration, a new or past trauma to the kidneys, or even tick borne diseases.

There are a lot of valuable pieces of information your veterinarian will be able to obtain from analyzing your dog’s urine sample if he suspects kidney disease. The vet will interpret the results of the urine test by reviewing the history of your pet, completing a physical exam – sometimes including blood work, and depending on the severity of the kidney disease, further testing may necessitate x-rays or ultrasound.

If obtaining a urine sample from your dog is difficult, try one of these different ways to collect the sample: The most common way to collect a sample from a larger dog is to use a clean, dry container, (you can even use an aluminum pie pan or cake pan, or a deep plastic dish that will hold the urine). After your dog has urinated, pour the sample into a clean container and seal it. Be sure to save the urine sample in a clean, dry container you can easily transport to your vet. The sample should be delivered to your veterinarian’s office immediately. If you are unable to deliver the sample immediately, refrigerate it but never freeze a dogs urine sample.

If your vet requires a sterile sample of urine to test for kidney disease you will need to take your dog to the vet’s clinic to undergo a procedure called “cystocentesis,”. The vet will insert a small needle directly into the dog’s bladder through the body wall. This procedure will not take long and will provide a sample uncontaminated by bacteria from anything outside the dog’s bladder, including its fur.

In addition to checking for kidney disease, a urinalysis will also provide information about your dog’s bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

A complete urinalysis of your dog’s urine involves three steps:
1. Checking and recording the color, cloudiness, and how concentrated the urine is.
2. Completing a chemical analysis of the urine.
3. Centrifuging a small quantity of the urine sample and examining the sediment under a microscope.

Normal urine is amber-yellow in color and clear to slightly cloudy. Concentrated urine will be a darker yellow. White blood cells can also make the urine cloudy. If there is blood in the urine it will have a reddish-brownish shade.

Many of the chemical tests for kidney disease can be done using only a small quantity of urine. A dipstick is used to transfer a small amount of urine to special medical pads containing chemical reagents that test for a particular material in the urine. When the urine comes in contact with one of the reagents a chemical reaction occurs and the color of the pad will change based on how much of the substance is in the urine. The vet will then compare the pad with a color chart to determine approximately how much of the substance is in the urine. Some medications may interfere with the chemical tests causing false results and your veterinarian will need to know about any medications or supplements your dog is taking.

The following substances are just a few of the chemicals that are tested when performing a routine urinalysis to test for kidney disease:
Urine pH – (a reading of how acidic or alkaline the urine is).
Protein – (healthy dogs usually don’t have any protein in their urine, although sometimes trace amounts may be present but that is normal.
Glucose – (sugar in the blood being significantly higher than normal.
Ketones – (substances formed in the body during the breakdown of fats).
Bilirubin – (a pigment made by the liver from dead or dying red blood cells).
Urobilinogen – (Big word for a compound formed from bilirubin by intestinal bacteria).

Blood cells in the urine are normal, but a larger than normal quantity indicates a problem.

An examination of the urine sample under a microscope tests for several problems and larger than normal numbers of white blood cells may indicate inflammation from a bladder or kidney infection.

Kidney disease is a very serious health problem for dogs, just as it is for humans. If you are concerned that something is just not right with your dog, you definitely should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

 

Thyroid Problems in Dogs

Thyroid problems in dogs are often difficult to recognize because the symptoms are so subtle. You might notice a change in the level of your dog’s energy, weight gain, or severe skin problems, but not associate these changes with anything serious that you should be concerned about. To detect thyroid problems a dog needs a blood test before the symptoms can be correctly diagnosed as a thyroid problem.

Hypothyroidism Kennel Cough in Dogs is a common illness in dogs and occurs when not enough thyroid hormones are produced in the animal’s body. The thyroid hormone has many functions and the most important is to regulate metabolism. Weight gain then becomes one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Approximately 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases are caused by a genetic autoimmune disease called thyroiditis, which produces anti-thyroid antibodies in the dog’s body. Sometimes the disease will develop as early as puberty even though the clinical signs won’t appear until later in a dog’s life.

Hypothyroidism most commonly affects dogs from four to ten years of age, especially large breed dogs. Miniature and toy breeds are very seldom affected.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight loss, an elevated heart rate, increased urination, hyperactivity, lethargy, excessive hair loss and shedding, an intolerance for exercise – especially in colder weather – a low heart rate, and sudden changes in behavior such as increased aggression. All dogs suffering from hypothyroidism don’t display the full range of these symptoms, and some may exhibit only a few mild symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

In more serious cases, a dog may have seizures, chronic hepatitis, cardiac irregularities, or a loss of smell or taste.

To detect and diagnose hypothyroidism, a vet will do a blood test called a T4 panel which measures the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. A dog that tests positive for thyroid disease will require medication to regulate the thyroid hormones for the rest of its life.

More than 50 different breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed to developing thyroid problems. No matter which breed of dog you have, if these symptoms become noticeable and last for a protracted period of time, you should have your dog tested before the disease can cause serious damage.

 

Types of Cancer in Dogs

Cancer is one of the primary killers among all breeds of dogs but some breeds are more susceptible than others to certain types of cancer. Cancer can occur at any time in a dog’s life but it usually doesn’t rear its ugly head until a dog grows older. Treating dogs with cancer can be difficult for a veterinarian because the correct diagnosis can be challenging with the large number of different types of cancer that affect dogs.

Canine cancer can easily spread through a dog’s body, meaning that early detection and treatment is of paramount importance to a pet’s health and longevity.

One of the more common types of cancer found in most dog breeds is oral cancer. These cancers can be identified by the gradual, or sometimes sudden growth of tumors in a dog’s mouth. If these growths are cancerous and malignant, the dog may suffer considerably before any outward symptoms are seen. Even when the growths are benign rather than malignant, they can still be dangerous or deadly to a dog.

Liver cancer is the most common cancer affecting the major organs in the body. Tumors of the liver can develop quite suddenly, but usually take months or even years to fully develop. It’s very possible that a dog may be suffering from liver cancer for quite some time until the tumor becomes large enough that it begins to cause symptoms that indicate the presence of a cancerous growth in a dog’s body.

Bladder cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer in many dogs. Like other kinds of urinary tract diseases, bladder cancer can develop without the owner realizing it, and when it reaches a certain stage of growth it can have very painful consequences for a dog. This form of cancer is one of the most difficult ones to treat, partially because surgical removal of the infected tissue is difficult or even impossible.

Bone cancer is more commonly found in larger dog breeds who tend to have a higher rate of bone cancer and at an earlier age than smaller breeds. It is believed that the reason for this statistic is that the bones of larger breeds are growing and reproducing much more quickly than the bone cells of smaller dogs, allowing mutations to develop which can result in cancer.

A responsible pet owner will want to watch their pet for the ten early warning signs of cancer in a dog:

* Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
* Sores that won’t heal
* Weight loss
* Loss of appetite
* Bleeding or discharge from any opening of the body
* Offensive odor
* Difficulty when eating or swallowing
* Reluctance to exercise or loss of stamina
* Persistent lameness or stiffness
* Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

It also helps to be aware of known and suspected cancer causing agents which include:

• herbicides
• insecticides
• second-hand smoke
• radiation exposure
• certain viruses
•chemical additives and preservatives in food

No one wants to lose a pet to cancer. When the unthinkable does happen it can be as devastating as losing a member of the family to cancer. Learn to watch for the early warning signs and keep your dog away from all known cancer causing agents.

Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is a serious condition that causes seizures in dogs. Once the disease is diagnosed, epilepsy becomes manageable. Epileptic seizures are dangerous for a dog as it can easily be injured and fall into unconsciousness with no control over its muscles.

Recognizing canine epilepsy symptoms will help you treat the ailment in its early stages by getting the proper medication from your veterinarian and knowing how to keep your dog safe the next time it has a seizure.

Canine epilepsy becomes apparent when your dog has seizures that occur suddenly and without any warning signs.

Seizures can be triggered by something as simple as loud noise, bright lights, or a stressful situation.

When a dog has a seizure, it may fall down, stagger and have spasms. The dog may or may not lose consciousness, but either way it will have no control over its muscles and limbs. The dog will be breathing with great difficulty and will salivate excessively. There may be foaming around its mouth due to its fast breathing.

Most canine epilepsy seizures last less than a minute, although it’s not that unusual for one to last for 5 or 6 minutes. Apart from seizures there are no other symptoms of canine epilepsy.

Epilepsy may be caused by a genetic disease, tumors, blood clots in the dog’s brain, or damaged brain tissue caused by a previous injury. Seizures can also be caused by a heat stroke, poisoning, a calcium deficiency, or low blood sugar level.

If your dog has muscle spasms or suddenly falls down, it’s a good indication that a seizure is occurring. It’s important that you don’t hold your dog’s tongue during a seizure, because you could accidentally be bitten. Dogs usually don’t swallow their tongue during a seizure.

If your dog has a seizure, wait until it completely calms down and then let it rest for a while.

If your dog’s epileptic seizures only happen once or twice a year, medication is usually not recommended because of the somewhat severe side effects. If your dog has seizures on a regular basis, an anti-epilepsy drug should be prescribed by a vet.

Canine epilepsy is a rare but extremely severe disease and I sincerely hope it never happens to your pet.

Liver Disease in Dogs

There are some man-made chemicals that are toxic and can cause liver disease in dogs as well as humans. The list of these chemicals includes phosphorus, selenium, carbon tetrachloride, insecticides, and toxic amounts of arsenic, lead and iron.

Most people are not aware that liver disease in dogs can also be caused by some over-the-counter medicines and also prescription medications. Antibiotics, antifungals, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, dewormers and diuretics can all cause adverse reactions in a dog and possibly lead to liver disease if an excessive dosage is given or there is prolonged use of the medication.

Another cause of liver disease in dogs can be traced to a dog consuming certain plants and herbs. These include some mushrooms, blue-green algae, and the mold aflatoxin that grows on corn. If aflatoxin accidentally manages to enter the dog food manufacturing process it can contaminate any canned or dry dog food it comes into contact with and can result in severe liver damage. The damage comes from gallstones, tumors, and liver flukes that form and block the dog’s bile ducts.

To determine the best method of treating liver disease, a veterinarian will first order blood tests followed by ultrasound or CT scans. The scans can reveal damage to the liver but the only conclusive test is a biopsy of the dog’s liver. Whether or not a dog will recover from liver disease is dependent on how long the dog has been sick, the full extent of the liver damage, and whether surgery is necessary or if the disease can be controlled with medications. Surgical procedures are usually recommended to correct bile duct obstructions and some primary tumors of the liver.

Liver disease in dogs is a very serious condition and after treatment by a vet you will need to control and prevent any further complications such as bleeding. Your dog may also require a special diet low in protein to complete its recovery.

Liver disease in dogs is something that must be treated as quickly as possible to protect your pet and give it the ability to live a long and disease-free life.

Common dog Illnesses

Unfortunately there are many common dog illnesses and diseases that can be life-threatening to your pet. Many of these illnesses are viral and the easiest way to prevent them is by vaccination.

If you think that your pet is very ill, you’ll need to monitor your dog’s behavior and make notes on what you observe. Then call your vet as soon as possible and report your observations.

Some of the most common illnesses in pet dogs include heartworm, bloat, canine distemper, parvovirus, tapeworm, and rabies.

Heartworm is a parasitic disease that is spread by mosquito bites. Once a dog is infected, the parasitic worms grow and live inside the dog’s heart chambers. The most common symptoms of this disease are coughing, difficulty in breathing, an aversion to exercise, and congestive heart failure. Heartworm is very difficult to treat and the sad news is that many dogs don’t survive heartworm treatment. The good news is that heartworm is easily preventable by giving your dog a monthly dose of a heartworm medication available at most pet stores.

Bloat is a life threatening condition commonly found in large dog breeds like Great Danes and Mastiffs. Bloat occurs when a dog overeats or eats its meals too quickly on a regular basis. This causes gas or fluid to build-up in the dog’s stomach. The stomach can then become twisted and will cut off circulation to the internal organs. If this serious condition is not treated immediately it can kill your pet.

Symptoms of bloat include:
• Dry heaves that occur every 5 to 30 minutes
• Weakness or collapsing
• Swollen, bloated abdomen
• Restlessness or anxiety
• Lack of normal digestive sounds in the abdomen
• Tapeworms in the dog’s feces

Another common dog illness is canine distemper, a dangerous and incurable disease that can seriously affect your dog’s health and longevity. Treatment for distemper can be expensive. If your dog survives canine distemper it may suffer neurological damage for the rest of its life.

Symptoms in the early stages of canine distemper are coughing, diarrhea, and mucus discharge from the eyes and nose. As the disease progressively worsens and enters the final stage, the dog will have seizures.

Adult dogs have a fifty percent chance of surviving canine distemper but unfortunately, puppies have only about a twenty percent chance of survival. It is vital that your dog receive a distemper vaccine shot to prevent catching this deadly disease.

Parvovirus is another viral illness that is especially dangerous for puppies. The symptoms of parvovirus include vomiting, decreased appetite, bloody diarrhea and lethargy. Treatment requires lots of fluids and antibiotics. Parvovirus kills about eighty percent of the dogs that become infected with this disease, but it is preventable through vaccination.

Tapeworm is a common dog illness caused by parasites and affects many dogs. Tapeworm parasites live inside a dog’s intestines and can grow as long as eight inches. When a dog gets fleas and swallows one that contains tapeworm eggs, the condition will spread.

It’s easy to tell if your dog has tapeworms because you’ll see small white segments of the worm moving around in your dog’s feces. Tapeworms can easily be treated with medication taken orally.

Rabies is a very serious viral disease that spreads from one animal to another through saliva. Rabies will cause an animal to become aggressive, and it can easily spread the disease through bite wounds. Rabies is deadly and contagious to humans also. In all U.S. cities dogs are required to have rabies vaccinations.

The symptoms of rabies in the beginning stages include fevers, behavioral changes, and slow eye reflexes. As the disease gets progressively worse, a dog will become increasingly aggressive, bark excessively and without reason, and is bad-tempered and restless. In its advanced stage rabies leads to coma and death. Dogs who contract rabies are required to be euthanized.

No ailment in your dog should be considered just a common dog illness and left untreated. The consequences can be the loss of a dearly beloved pet.