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The main canine diseases

Whether your dog is your work companion, a dog show winner, a hunter or just a good friend, the best and most caring thing you can do for him is to provide him with the right health care. Knowing about the main canine diseases and the right prevention and treatment measures can help you provide that care.

Disease prevention

Some major and serious canine diseases are now no longer the most common due to vaccination. However, these diseases still threaten dogs whose immune systems are not very strong. Vaccinations are given to puppies as young as 4-6 weeks of age, depending on each situation and the recommendations of the vet. Puppies receive disease-fighting antibodies through their mother’s milk, which lasts about 6-16 weeks. Then the vaccine takes effect. The medication must be given to the dog every year for its entire life. Here are some of the main dog diseases for which vaccines have been developed.

canine distemper. Canine distemper is caused by a highly contagious, airborne virus. It affects the dog’s respiratory tract, digestive tract and nervous system. Initial symptoms include watery eyes and nose, fever, cough and often diarrhoea. Nerve irritation, paralysis and convulsions may follow.

Hepatitis. (Adenovirus). Canine infectious hepatitis is a viral disease spread through the urine, faeces or saliva of infected animals. It affects the liver, kidneys and blood vessels. Symptoms include fever, swelling of the tissues and bleeding. Treatment may require blood transfusions and continuous nursing. Treatment is often unsuccessful.

Canine cough. Infectious canine tracheobronchitis is caused by several viruses and bacteria. It is a highly contagious disease that attacks the respiratory tract and causes a chronic, dry cough. It is a relatively mild disease, but in puppies and old dogs it can develop into dangerous pneumonia.

The disease is treatable. Rabies. Rabies – an infectious disease of all mammals, including humans. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. The virus infects the central nervous system and causes an infection of the brain, which is always fatal. Once symptoms appear, the disease is not curable in either dog or human. However, if the disease is detected in time and a vaccine is given, human life can be saved.

Internal parasites

Tapeworms. Tapeworms are long worms whose body is divided into incisions. They are produced when a dog ingests a worm larva, which may be on a flea or on the raw flesh of small mammals. A dog that hunts alone or has fleas is very likely to become infected with tapeworms. Tapeworm segments can be seen in the dog’s faeces or around the anus. Special bowel cleansing is done as part of the treatment.

Roundworms. This group includes a wide variety of worms including ascarids, nematodes and heartworms. Intestinal worms are caused by the ingestion of worm larvae or the ingestion of soil containing larvae or worms.eggs. Heartworms are infected through other vectors, such as mosquitoes.

The vet carries out a special microscopic examination of the larvae (for intestinal worms) or the blood (for heart worms). Treatment and prevention are usually effective, but should be carried out regularly and the dog should be monitored for re-infection with worms.

external parasites

External parasites are those that live on the outside of the dog’s body. They not only cause irritation but can also spread disease or cause illness in humans.

Fleas. These can easily be spotted on a dog’s coat. They are the size of the head of a pin, brown, compressed at the sides and seem to be in constant motion. They are most easily seen at the base of the tail, between the ears or on the abdomen, where the coat is shorter. Even if fleas cannot be seen, black specks of excrement are visible. There are many ways to combat fleas, but it is important to treat the environment as fiercely as the dog, as fleas spend even more time in the dog’s environment than on it.

This problem needs to be tackled as soon as fleas are spotted, as they multiply very quickly and a small problem can turn into a big one in a couple of days. Although most dogs dig for fleas, some are also allergic to their saliva. For them, a single flea bite can mean severe skin inflammation. Such a dog will definitely need special medication to eliminate the skin inflammation.

Ticks. These are most prevalent in early spring and are most common in dogs that spend a lot of time in the undergrowth or woods. Ticks carry diseases and must be removed very carefully. The head of the tick should be grasped with tweezers and pulled firmly out of the skin. Do not try to kill the tick with fire or chemicals beforehand. Disinfect the site with alcohol. Ticks are dealt with by daily coat checks and removal of any ticks found. In case of heavy infestation, a chemical disinfectant can be used.

Lice. These are small, light-coloured parasites that are spread from oneand a dog on another. Lice can be seen at the roots of the hair. Signs of lice infestation include rough, dry fur, tangled hair, and digging and biting the skin. There are a number of chemical lice treatments available from your vet.

Other main problems

Ear infections. These are common in many dogs, especially in breeds that have drooping ears. The infection is caused by bacteria or ear yeasts that appear for some reason when the normal ear medium changes.

Signs of an ear infection include shaking of the head, scratching of the ears, pain, redness or inflammation of the ear canal, and a foul smell from the ear. To prevent ear problems, you should check your dog’s ears at least once a week; try to avoid getting water in the ears when bathing your dog; and seek advice from your vet on routine ear cleaning.

Dental problems. These occur frequently and should be addressed. Saliva and bad breath coming from the mouth is a signal.

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