The 5 Most Common Infections in Dogs

Infections in dogs can range from minor to major illnesses that can often be fatal. Owners who are educated on the most common infections in dogs and their symptoms can catch them early on and acquire necessary treatment. Catching infection in its early stages is the owner's best defense against severe illness and fatality.

1. Rabies

Although preventable, rabies is still one of the most common infections in canines. Symptoms of rabies may not become apparent for days or even months after the infection has been contracted. Signs include refusal to eat or drink, fever, seizures and foaming at the mouth. Some dogs experience "mad dog syndrome." A dog with this syndrome may become extremely aggressive and attack humans or other animals. It is the law to vaccinate your pet against rabies. Failure to do so could result in your pet contracting this infection from another infected dog or wild animal. Rabies is always fatal and there is no cure. 

 2. Parvovirus

Parvovirus is extremely contagious among dogs, which is why it is a required vaccination in puppies and is given annually to all dogs. It is most commonly contracted through exposure to infected feces. Symptoms of parvovirus include lethargy, bloody vomit or diarrhea and loss of appetite.

 3. Ear Infections

Ear infections are most common in floppy eared dogs and dogs who live primarily outdoors. Symptoms include excess wax build up, foul odor and pawing at the ear. You can help prevent ear infections by using a drying cream found at your local pet store. The cream can be inserted into the dog's ear and rubbed. The cream acts as a drying agent and soaks up excess moisture. You can use creams on a regular basis or after the dog has been bathed, swimming or out in the rain. Although ear infections are treatable, you must always see your veterinarian for proper treatment.

4. Distemper

Distemper is highly contagious and affects the respiratory, nervous and gastrointestinal systems. Like parvovirus, infection usually takes place when an animal is exposed to feces containing the virus. While all dogs are at risk of distemper, young puppies under four months of age are particularly susceptible. There is no cure for distemper, only medications to help manage the illness and keep it from becoming worse. Dogs who survive often have severe brain damage. Distemper is a required vaccination for puppies and all dogs on a annual basis.

5. Upper Respiratory Infection

URI's (also known as the common cold for canines) are most commonly caused by the bordatella virus (kennel cough). Upper respiratory infections affect a dog's lungs and sinuses. Symptoms include nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing and pawing at the face. You can help prevent a URI by providing your dog with adequate shelter and a healthy diet. Dogs with strong immune systems often fight off the infection before it becomes serious enough for veterinary care. Though highly infectious, it's treatable when caught early.