Canine Infection: The 4 Most Common Infectious Diseases

The most common canine infections are common because they are so contagious. Canine infection can progress so rapidly through your dog's body that death can occur within a matter of days or even hours, so it pays to educate yourself about the most common canine infectious diseases.

1. Rabies

Rabies isn't just a canine disease; it can be spread to domestic and wild animals of every type, and even to humans. There is no cure for rabies, and it's deadly. Rabies is spread when infected saliva enters your dog's bloodstream, usually through a bite by an infected animal. Because rabies makes its victims aggressive, the disease spreads easily.

All dogs are at high risk for rabies, as you never know when they might come in contact with an infected animal. Rabies vaccines are required by law in all locations and are usually administered every one to three years.

2. Parvovirus

Parvovirus is one of the most deadly canine infections, and it usually strikes puppies. Puppies are vulnerable to canine infections because of their underdeveloped immune systems, and parvovirius is very contagious. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss; parvovirus infection also causes dangerous levels of dehydration.

Parvovirus spreads through contact with infected feces. The virus itself is very hardy and can survive extremes that many other viruses cannot, making it all the more deadly. Parvovirus infection is very, very painful for your dog. The survival rate is only fifty percent.

3. Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is another very dangerous canine infection. This disease goes through two stages, a mucosal and a neurological stage. The initial symptoms of canine distemper include fever, cough, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting; your dog may also display discharge from the eyes.

In the neurological stage, your dog can suffer seizures and death. While some dogs do recover from canine distemper, they may suffer permanent brain damage. More than half of dogs infected with canine distemper die from the disease, and most others must be euthanized when the damage becomes too severe.

4. Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis can kill your dog within a matter of hours without apparent symptoms. Canine hepatitis attacks the liver and can cause severe damage to this vital organ. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog may also experience abdominal swelling, bleeding gums, disorientation, coma, and death.

The Good News

The good news is, all of these common, contagious and deadly canine infections are preventable by vaccine. In fact, vaccinations against these four disease form the core regimen that veterinarians administer to all puppies and dogs with uncertain vaccination histories. That's why it's so important to make sure your dog has all his shots.