The Six Most Common Viral Dog Diseases

Many of the dog diseases your pet is likely to catch are viruses. Many of these viral infections result in mild to moderate symptoms that can be treated. Some infections, such as rabies, are more serious. There are vaccinations for many of the most common viral dog diseases. Here are the 6 most common viral dog diseases:

1. Distemper

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, distemper poses a serious threat to the world’s canine population. The disease kills 80% of infected puppies and 50% of afflicted adult dogs. The symptoms range from weight loss, nasal discharge and vomiting. It also includes congested lungs and diarrhea. You may also notice a build-up of a thick substance in the eye.

As the disease worsens, this infection attacks the nervous system. It can cause varying degrees of paralysis and seizures. Dogs catch distemper through the air or by direct contact with objects or animals that may hold the virus. It is a highly contagious virus. Prevention is key, and vaccinating your dog will greatly decrease the chances of him becoming afflicted. Once the virus takes hold, however, it cannot be cured. The symptoms can be alleviated through medication in many cases.

2. Canine Parainfluenza Virus

The next three viruses are often lumped together in what laymen call kennel cough. This first virus is a relative of distemper.  Symptoms sometimes include an inflamed larynx and often include dry cough. The bronchial tubes or trachea can also become irritated. It puts stress on the immune system. Pneumonia develops in approximately 10 to 20% of dogs who are infected. Dogs pass the infection on to each other, especially when they are in close contact.

3. Bordatella

This is an infection that is part of what is called kennel cough. The symptoms are very similar to those that appear in the canine parainfluenza virus. The contagiousness is similar, as well as the way the virus compromises the immune system. Vaccination is recommended.

4. Canine Adenovirus or Hepatitis

This last piece of kennel cough is also called hepatitis. It's an airborne virus that attacks major organs such as the liver and kidneys once it's in the bloodstream. The only treatment for hepatitis is supportive treatment to alleviate symptoms and make the animal more comfortable. In some cases, very few symptoms appear. Other dogs, however, can exhibit fever and a reddened mouth. Some even die within 24 hours. In mild cases, puppies recover within a week. Vaccination is very important and usually required by vets.

5. Rabies

Canine rabies has actually become much more rare in dogs in the United States. This is mainly because of laws requiring the rabies vaccination. Once symptoms appear, the virus is fatal and highly contagious. It can be transmitted to humans as well as coyotes, raccoons, foxes, cats and several other mammals. Many doctors recommend vaccination every three years. In areas with dog rabies outbreaks,  the vet may require a yearly booster.

6. Parvo

This is another common virus, and symptoms show up five to seven days after a dog has been exposed. Symptoms include loss of appetite, severe diarrhea and vomiting. Some dogs can develop extreme lethargy and depression. An infected dog's feces are generally light gray or a yellowish gray, and can contain streaks of blood. Early vaccination is key because puppies under the age of 6 months are the most susceptible. The only treatment once a dog is infected is preventing a secondary infection, and nursing care to help replace fluids.