The 5 Most Frequent Dog Virus Infections

It is common for dogs to catch a dog virus during their lives. A dog infection can range in seriousness from mild to very serious, as in the case of dog rabies. Always seek veterinary attention so that the proper dog medication and treatment can be administered. The following six viruses are the most common dog viruses your pet can to catch.

Dog Rabies

Rabies has actually become extremely rare in dogs in the United States, but only because of laws requiring the rabies vaccination. The rabies virus is fatal once symptoms appear. Dog rabies is contagious to humans as well as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, cats, and other mammals. Dogs can also catch rabies from other mammals who are infected. Most states and counties require a rabies vaccine by law. Some vets use a three-year dog rabies vaccine. In areas with dog rabies outbreaks, a yearly booster may be required.


The American Veterinary Medical Association believes that canine distemper is the most concerning dog infection to threaten the world's canine population. Canine distemper is fatal in 80% of infected puppies and 50% of adult dogs who have contacted the disease. Symptoms include nasal discharge, weight loss and vomiting, diarrhea, congested lungs, and a build-up of material in the eye. As the disease worsens, this dog virus attacks the nervous system and can cause partial or complete paralysis and seizures. Distemper is highly contagious, and dogs catch it through the air or by direct contact with objects or animals that may hold the virus. Distemper can be prevented through vaccination but cannot be cured with dog medication once the dog infection takes hold.


Symptoms of the parvo virus manifest five to seven days after a dog has been exposed. The most common symptoms include loss of appetite, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and depression. A canine with this dog infection eliminates feces that are generally light gray or a yellowish gray and may contain streaks of blood. Puppies under the age of 6 months are the most susceptible so early vaccination is key. The only dog medication once infected is to prevent a secondary infection, and the main treatment is nursing care to help replace fluids.

Bordatella and Canine Parainfluenza Virus

The term kennel cough includes the Bordatella virus and canine parainfluenza virus. The last is related to the canine distemper virus. Symptoms of these dog diseases range from a dry hacking cough to inflammation of the trachea, larynx, and bronchial tubes. 10 to 20% of the infected dogs develop pneumonia. Kennel coughs are highly contagious and often spread throughout kennels or shelters due to the close contact with other dogs and stress on the immune system. Vaccination is recommended, and there is dog medication to alleviate the symptoms if caught.

Canine Adenovirus or Hepatitis

Often, the term kennel cough also includes the canine adenovirus. Hepatitis is another name for the canine adenovirus type 1. It is ingested or inhaled by the dog and once in the bloodstream attacks major organs such as the liver and kidneys. Only supportive treatment for hepatitis is available. Sometimes the disease is present with little symptoms, while other dogs can show symptoms such as fever and a reddened mouth and die within 24 hours. The disease is often moderate, and some puppies recover within a week. Vaccination is very important and usually required by vets.