Preventable Diseases In Dogs And Cats

DOGS

PARVOVIRUS (Cat Flu – Katgriep)

This highly contagious disease of dogs, usually under 1 year of age, has symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, severe depression and dehydration.  The name “Cat Flu”, is a misnomer, as there are no “flu” symptoms and it is a disease of dogs.  Parvovirus can be caught from any direct or indirect contact with a sick or early recovered dog.  This is a frequently fatal disease and should be treated as soon as the symptoms appear.  It can be a protracted process, usually involving hospitalisation, intravenous fluids, and numerous medications, and may still ultimately end in death.

DISTEMPER (Hondesiekte)

This often fatal disease usually occurs in two distinct phases.  Initially, there is a fever, with a runny nose and cough, which can proceed to a decrease in appetite, diarrhoea and vomiting.  This clears up and the dog appears normal for the duration of a few days to a month.  The dog then develops “nervous symptoms”, such as fitting, muscle twitches, paralysis, blindness, followed by coma and then death.  This disease is spread by inhalation of infected particles (as with flu) or by close contact between dogs.   The dog should be given supportive and antibiotic treatment as early as possible, in an attempt to prevent the progression of the disease, unfortunately this is often unsuccessful.

INFECTIOUS CANINE HEPATITIS

This disease can vary in severity from a mild fever, resulting in liver damage to a fatal disease.  It can be spread from a sick dog, by contact with its urine, or by indirect contact – that is if someone touches it, then touches a healthy dog.  The early symptoms include fever and coughing, followed by jaundice, seizures and terminal coma.  Although this disease is not common, if contracted, it usually results in death.

PARA INFLUENZA

This disease is not usually fatal, but in young dogs, it can cause runting, stunting syndrome.  It is spread by inhalation of infected air particles, and also by dogs which are in close contact with one another.  Clinical signs include a copious nasal discharge, fever, tonsillitis and a non-productive cough.

RABIES

This is a fatal disease, which is spread by biting, licking of fresh wounds, scratching and by splashes of infected fluids, into the eye or mouth.  Mere contact offers no risk!  The incubation period (that is the time taken from exposure to the clinical signs) is anything between 15 days to six months.  There are two forms of Rabies – the “Furious Form” and the “Dumb Form:, both starting as a dramatic change in behaviour.

Furious Form”          Depraved appetite, salivation, inability to swallow, biting and chasing moving objects.  This is followed by paralysis and death.

Dumb Form”:           Rapid depression, salivation, paralysis and death.  Once symptoms start, there is no known treatment

It is important to note that all mammals, including man, are susceptible to Rabies.

 

CATS

SNUFFLES

This is a flu-like disease, which can result in fatalities in very young cats, and in cats which stop eating. This is as a result of not being able to smell their food.  A cat’s sense of smell is very important when it comes to eating.  If a cat cannot smell its food, it won’t know that it is food, and to them, it would be like chewing on cardboard.  There are numerous causes of Snuffles – viral, bacterial and protozoal (a multicellular organism).  The Calici Virus (viral) and Chlamydia (protozoal) are the most dangerous, and these are the two against which we vaccinate.

PANLEUKOPOENIA

This is the cat equivalent of parvovirus.  Clinical signs are fever, diarrhea, persistent vomiting and dehydration.  This disease can be spread by direct contact between cats and by flies and fleas.  This highly infectious disease is frequently fatal.

All these above mentioned diseases are preventable.  A simple series of vaccinations, from 6-8 weeks of age, for puppies and kittens, and a yearly booster, will protect your pets from the disastrous consequences of contracting these illnesses.  By law, a yearly Rabies vaccination is required, but although the other diseases are not “controlled”, it is advisable to prevent these too.

IT IS CHEAPER TO PREVENT THAN TO TREAT!

 

KATHERINE BARKER (BVSc)

 

 

 

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