Environmental Causes of Canine Illness

Canine illness may be brought about by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, prior medical conditions and environment. A study of canine epidemiology reveals that bacteria, viruses or toxins in the dog's environment bring about a large number of dog diseases. As a pet owner, it's important to recognize the environmental causes of canine illnesses in order to better defend your dog against them.

Bacteria, Viruses and Other Airborne Causes

Dogs are susceptible to airborne diseases that are transmitted via microscopic bacteria or viruses. These bacteria and viruses can cause influenza, distemper, respiratory disease and many other common canine illnesses.

Minimize your dog's contact with sick animals. If you have multiple pets and one of them should fall sick, keep the infected pet isolated from the other animals in your house in order to better prevent the spread of airborne disease.

Parasites and Other Vectors

Dogs that play or run outside are susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by parasites. Depending upon the regional parasite density in your area, your dog may be in contact with ticks, worms and other canine illness vectors.

If your dog spends time outdoors, check him regularly for ticks, fleas and any other parasites that can transmit disease. All dogs are susceptible to worms, and many are born with roundworm larvae already in their system. Worm larvae are typically transmitted through fecal matter, and often must be ingested in order to damage your dog's intestinal tract. Your veterinarian can check your dog's stool for signs of worms.

Poisonous Materials and Foods

Antifreeze is one of the most common poisons that cats and dogs ingest. Many pets find the taste attractive, but antifreeze is poisonous and almost always fatal if ingested. There are many other household items that are poisonous if consumed by a pet. Know the most common dog poisons and handle them carefully if you have a pet in the house.

Dogs test new objects by smelling and tasting them. If a chemical spills in your home, clean it up immediately to prevent your dog from eating or drinking it. Car-related chemicals leak in the garage or on the driveway, or cleaning chemicals are left out inside the home. These chemicals may have dire effects on an animal that ingests them, and may result in death.

Dogs cannot eat many of the same foods that humans do. Although many pet owners share table scraps with their dogs, these foods may contain harmful chemicals that your pet is unable to process properly. Some of the most common human foods that are toxic to dogs include:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Fatty foods and meat
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Mushrooms
  • Sugar-free foods
  • Avocado

To be completely safe, only feed your dog food that is approved by a veterinarian or manufactured specifically for pets. Take precautions to limit the environmental factors that may contribute to canine disease, and you will help to guard your dog against damaging and potentially fatal illnesses.