In taking care of our furry friends, we always want to make sure we protect them from the ugliest viruses. Whether it’s from sniffing feces, playing in the park, roaming outside, or saying hello to another pet, YOUR pet is at major risk of contracting a life threatening virus.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and at Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital, we would like to educate you on keeping your pets properly vaccinated. Whether its the suggested 6 month bordetella booster for your pup or the state required 3 year rabies vaccine, these immunizations have a specific schedule that should be maintained to provide a happy long life for your pet. According to k9 or feline, one should be familiar with the common viruses that your pet can be protected against.
Bordetella (6 months) – The bordetella vaccine is given to prevent the highly infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as Kennel Cough disease. This is a disease that affects the respiratory system of your dog. This will create major inflammation of the trachea and bronchi in the lungs, causing your dog great discomfort. Some symptoms to look for are, dry hacking (which is most common), honking cough, dry heaving retch, and slight nasal discharge. In mild cases, dogs likely remain active with normal appetite, but in severe cases the symptoms can include pneumonia, inappetence, fever, lethargy and can eventually become fatal.
Distemper (12 months/Annual) – Distemper virus is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in dogs globally. The primary source of the virus is via inhalation as it is shed through feces and urine. Distemper has also been known to be carried in raccoons which are commonly seen in Los Angeles. The distemper virus attacks cells that line the skin, conjunctiva, mucous membranes of the respiratory, gastrointestinal tract, and brain cells. Half the dogs who become infected with distemper virus begin with mild signs of illness or no signs at all. This virus comes in stages with the first stage being a fever spike, second being loss of appetite, listlessness and discharge from eyes and nose (similar to a cold). The second occurs two to three weeks after the onset of the disease. This nasty disease in second stage can lead to involvement of the brain expressed as attacks of excessive drooling, head trembling, and chewing movements of the jaws (as if your dog were chewing gum). This is a highly infectious and fatal disease. There is NO treatment for this infection and many dogs die or have to be put to sleep.
Parvovirus (12 months/Annual) – Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that infects rapidly dividing the cells of the gastrointestinal tract and lymph nodes. The intestinal lining then begins to slough which causes severe diarrhea leading to dehydration. The virus attacks, destroys the lymph nodes, and then causes secondary infections, resulting in septicemia and endotoxemia. This virus is usually contracted through oral contact of stool from infected dogs. Parvo can be carried on a dog’s fur and feet, as well as contaminated crates and other objects such as toys. Dogs of all ages can contract the virus. This illness begins with depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and occasional fever. Your dog’s condition can rapidly decline and death will be eminent if he is not treated immediately.
Adenovirus 1 – This virus causes infectious canine hepatitis and is transmitted through infected urine via oronasal route. It infects the tonsils and the lymph nodes, then spreads to the liver, kidneys and eyes. Symptoms of this viral infection include fever, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged liver, abdominal pain, bruising of the skin, pinpoint red dots, and swollen lymph nodes.
Leptospirosis – Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria called spirochetes, and is an important zoonotic disease that can infect both dogs and people. Wild animals such as rats, raccoons, skunks, and opossums act as carriers of leptospirosis. Those who go hiking, camping, or even have their dogs exposed to areas where these carriers live, should definitely be sure to vaccinate for this bacteria. It is commonly spread through urine and makes its way into water sources remaining infective in soil for up to 6 months! These spirochetes enter a dog’s system through a skin lesion or being consumed via contaminated water. Most infections begin to show signs 4-12 days after exposure with a fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, depression, muscle pain, and death due to kidney or liver failure if not treated immediately. It is important to emphasize that Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease and it can be transmitted to people from their infected dogs. Leptospirosis is endemic in certain parts of the US.
Canine Parainfluenza – Parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that causes kennel cough in dogs. This virus infects the respiratory mucosal cells of the nose, trachea and bronchi. This can lead to secondary infections with the bordetella bacteria. Symptoms include, coughing, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy and loss of appetite (similar to when we have the flu). This virus can easily be picked up through shelters, rescue centers, kennels, daycares, groomers, dog parks and daily hellos from other pups on the streets.
Rabies (3 years) – This disease has been successfully eliminated from Los Angeles County through our vaccination program. It is now extremely rare for your dog to contract this disease in California. This disease when contracted is very severe and typically fatal… This disease affects the dog’s brain and its central nervous system. Once the virus enters the body, the infected cells replicate in the muscles then spreading to the closest nerve fibers including, all peripheral, sensory and motor nerves. This virus is slower moving and can take up to a month to develop, but once the symptoms set, the virus progresses at a rapid rate. Symptoms of rabies include: Pica, fever, seizures, paralysis, hydrophobia, dropped jaw, inability to swallow, change in tone of bark, muscular lack of coordination, shyness or aggression, irritability, paralysis in the mandible and larynx, and excessive salivation.
This infection has zoonotic characteristics and therefore can be transmitted to humans. Bats are animals that are most commonly found to be carrying rabies in our country. So far, in 2014 only 21 rabid bats have been found in Los Angeles County. Rabies is endemic in certain parts of the US. These states require annual rabies vaccines.
Rattlesnake (Optional Annual) – Do you hike with your pup? Do you live in the hills? If your dog is in high contact of rattlesnakes, this immunization is definitely recommended. This vaccine does not mean that if your dog is bit, he will not need medical attention. The shot will actually give you more time to take your pet to the nearest animal hospital to be admitted into critical care. The vaccine works by helping neutralize rattlesnake venom by producing protective antibodies.
Lyme Disease (Optional Annual) – Tick disease… ew! No one likes ticks to begin with, nasty little buggers. Lyme disease is most commonly diagnosed as a tick borne disease and is transmitted by another bacterial spirochete called the Borellia. Lyme disease is most commonly transmitted through the deer tick. The tick must be attached to the host for at least 48 hours in order to transmit the Borrelia bacteria to the host. Symptoms of the tick disease include, inflammation of the area in which the tick bit your dog, fever, general malaise, shifting leg lameness, anorexia, stiff walk/arched back and sensitivity to the touch. The chronic form of the disease is characterized by chronic polyarthritis. Lyme disease is endemic in certain parts of the USA such as the New England area. People also get Lyme diseases, however, dogs aren’t the source of infection for people.
Rhinotracheitis (12 months/Annual) – This virus causes an upper respiratory infection of the nose and throats in cats. This is a highly contagious virus that can be contracted through first or second hand contact of infected cat. Symptoms of this virus are sudden uncontrollable attacks of sneezing, severe conjunctivitis, squinting of eye, eye and/or nasal discharge, ocular and/or nasal discharge, lack of appetite, fever, and general discomfort.
Calicivirus (12 months/Annual) – This virus also causes respiratory disease in cats. The virus lives in and attacks the lungs, nasal passages, mouth, intestines, and musculoskeletal system. It also causes oral ulcers and severe gingivitis. Cats typically can contract calcivirus after contact other infected cats, such as in a shelter, cattery, or boarding facility. The virus is resistant to disinfectants, so cats may come into contact with the virus in almost any environment. Some strains of calici can be very potent and fatal.
Panleukopenia (12 months/Annual) – Panleukopenia is also called feline enteritis and is a leading cause of death in kittens. This is a highly contagious virus and can spread by direct contact or through feces. This means that the infected cat can infect their food dishes, bedding, toys, litter boxes and our clothes or selves! The virus attacks the white blood cells in your cat which allows for the virus to take over. Early signs of panleukopenia include loss of appetite, apathy, fever, diarrhea and vomiting of frothy bile. This nasty virus is a strong one and can survive in carpets, cracks, and furnishings for more than a year.
Leukemia (6 months) – Feline leukemia is a fatal virus that kills 85% of infected feline within 3 years of diagnosis. FeLV can cause a multitude of disease including anemia, leukemia, lymphoma and more. However, the most common condition seen is a wasting condition. Although fatal, 70% of cats who come in contact with the virus are able to resist the infection or eliminate the virus on their own. Feline leukemia is contracted through exposure of saliva, blood and more rarely urine/feces from other infected cats. Luckily, the virus does not live long outside of the cat’s body hence it being more difficult to contract from urine or feces. This disease is actually often spread through healthy cats so even if the cat appears normal, there is no true knowing. Some of the signs seen with FeLV infection include: pallor gums, enlarged lymph nodes, infections, weight loss, weakness/fatigue, fever, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.