Common Canine Virus Symptoms

A canine virus can make a dog feel very ill. It’s important for dog owners to know the symptoms of a virus, so medical attention can be provided.

Fever, Respiratory Rate and Pulse

A fever is one of the first signs pet owners look for to let them know a dog is sick. A dog's normal body temperature is higher than a human's (around 100˚F to 102˚F), but a temperature reading above 102˚F is considered a fever. Fevers are a sign that a dog is fighting a viral infection, inflammation or a problem within his immune system. As a result, a fever may cause a dog's behavior to change and make him feel very tired.

Normally, a dog's rate of respiration is 10 to 30 breathes per minute. A virus can raise the respiratory rate. A dog's rate of breathing can be measured by counting how many times his chest raises as a result of him taking a breath. If you wet your finger and place it by the dog's nose, you'll be able to feel him breathing on it.

The heart rate can also be altered when a dog has a virus. A dog's normal pulse can be anywhere from 60 to 160 beats per minute. A dog's heart rate can be measured by resting a hand on his chest or on the inside of the hind leg.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Vomiting is not uncommon. Sometimes a dog will vomit if he ate too fast or too much. However, vomiting can also be a sign of the flu, distemper or another viral infection. As a result, it's not unusual for a dog to experience weight loss, especially if his appetite has diminished. Abdominal pain can accompany a virus along with constipation or diarrhea. When a dog is vomiting or has diarrhea, he can easily become dehydrated, which will make his condition worse.

Upper Respiratory Symptoms

Dogs can have symptoms of a virus that manifest themselves in the upper respiratory tract. Canines are more likely to get viruses that are extremely contagious when in close quarters. This is why dogs in shelters easily contract parvo or kennel cough.

A dog could develop a runny nose from a viral infection. If a dog has mucus dripping from his nose that's clear, you should keep an eye him to see if it persists or if other symptoms develop. If a dog's mucus is yellow or green in color, it may be a sign of a viral infection. A persistent cough is also a sign that the dog could have a virus.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

The typical rule of thumb is to take a dog to a veterinary clinic after symptoms have persisted for 24 to 48 hours. Many symptoms of a virus are similar to symptoms of other diseases. If this should be the case, treatment should begin sooner rather than later.

Knowing the symptoms of a canine virus can help owners know what's normal and what's not. The earlier symptoms are addressed, the earlier the dog can recover from a virus.