Thanks to the vast majority of dog owners vaccinating their pets, vets see fewer cases of the major viral diseases in dogs in Australia than a decade ago.
Why do we need to vaccinate if the number of cases is low?
Although the number of cases are low, the viral agents that cause these diseases are still present. If people stop vaccinating their pets there will be a large population of un-protected pets just waiting for one of these highly contagious viruses to enter the neighborhood and cause an epidemic. These diseases are fatal and/or cause lots of suffering e.g. Distemper causes meningitis, Parvovirus causes bloody vomiting and diarrhoea.
Parvovirus is still common especially in lower income areas where people try to save money by not vaccinating. Parvovirus can also be common in many shelters, pounds and rescues as many unvaccinated dogs come through the doors every year. The virus spreads easily and can survive up to one year in contaminated soil – a dog has only to sniff where an infected dog went to the toilet one year ago to pick up the infection. It causes sudden vomiting and diarrhoea of watery blood, severe shock, acute abdominal pain and death. Treatment is prolonged, costly and not always successful. This makes vaccination a must.
Canine Distemper occurs only occasionally as it has almost been eradicated in Australia due to a very successful vaccination program. It is a highly contagious viral disease and symptoms vary but include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis occurs in the later stages of the disease.
This is a very serious viral liver disease. Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain.
Prevention of Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus
These days dogs receive annual booster to protect them from Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus as a bare minimum.
There a several “bugs” which cause Kennel Cough of which the worst are Bordetella and Parainfluenza. Dogs coming into contact with large number of other dogs e.g. boarding kennels, show dogs, are at the greatest risk of catching kennel cough and can develop a nasty throat and/or chest infection.
Prevention of Kennel Cough
Both Bordetalla and Parainfluenza are preventable by use of Vaccination. There are still a few other “bugs” which can cause a mild kennel cough.