Dog Virus Facts

There are many ways for a dog to become ill and one of the most common ways is by contracting a dog virus. Some viruses are easy to manage and treat, while others are complex and often deadly, with little to no option for cure. It's important to know how to spot symptoms and when you should consider your dog's condition to be an emergency. 


Canine distemper is a dog virus that is fatal in a majority of cases. This virus is highly contagious and can be spread quickly by contact with infected dogs, infected feces or even through the air. There is no cure for distemper and treatment options are limited. Prevention is the best option and this can usually be implemented with the proper vaccines or homeopathic remedies, depending upon your preference. Symptoms of distemper include weight loss, nausea, vomiting, lung congestion and eye and nasal discharge. If left untreated, distemper can cause seizures, paralysis and death.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is the most common dog virus in the country. This disease is also highly contagious and is usually transmitted through infected feces. Vaccinations are available, but some strains of this virus can still be contracted, even with proper shots. Prevention methods should also include removal and regular cleaning of soiled floors and bedding and avoidance of areas where many dogs have done their business. Symptoms may not show up for 1 to 2 weeks after contracting the virus, but dogs will show varying degrees of illness.

While most cases infect young puppies, this disease can spread rapidly to adult dogs as well. When parvo infects the intestines, you will likely notice severe vomiting, diarrhea, rapid dehydration and blood in the feces. Other types of this dog virus can affect the heart, causing inflammation. This disease progresses quickly and death may occur only a few short days after it is contracted. Supportive treatments are the only programs available, as there is no cure for this disease.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is usually, by itself, a less deadly dog virus. This virus produces a dry, hacking cough due to inflammation of the respiratory system, and can be prevented with vaccination and treated medically with a decent success rate. This virus usually doesn't affect the dog's health in any other way, and while it can resolve by itself, it's highly contagious and dogs with weakened immune systems may experience complications. Kennel cough may turn into pneumonia, however, or it may be a symptom of a more serious, underlying disease. Look for additional symptoms.


Hepatitis, or canine adenovirus, is a dog virus which affects the liver and other bodily organs. It is contagious and spread through bodily fluids such as infected urine or nasal discharge. Eyes may appear cloudy and the dog may experience a cough. As the disease progresses, the kidneys and liver may fail and you will notice vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and seizures. Death can be sudden, as early as hours after contracting the disease. There is no cure and treatment is aimed at supporting other conditions, such as dehydration and regaining proper organ functionality.