Most dog owners do whatever is necessary to maintain the health of their pets, including taking them for annual vet check-ups and having them vaccinated. Not only is this critical to a dog’s health, but also to its safety, as vaccines help prevent diseases transmitted by dogs, such as bordetella, distemper and rabies.

Common Diseases Transmitted by Dogs

If your dog has spent any time in a group setting with other dogs, either in a kennel or animal shelter, it may contract a respiratory infection known as kennel cough. Bordetella is a bacteria that causes inflammation of the lungs. Once it’s contracted, it’s treated with antibiotics, after which a full recovery can be expected. It can also be prevented with a vaccination. If you plan on boarding your dog for any length of time, it’s a good idea to be sure your pet is protected against this bacteria.

Another disease dogs can contract is distemper. It’s one of the most common infectious diseases found among dogs. It’s also one of the most deadly, especially among puppies. The virus is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact, as well as through feces and urine of infected dogs. It attacks the brain, and can cause seizures and paralysis. A strong immune system can definitely help a dog fight off diseases such as this, but that can only go so far. It’s also important to have your pet vaccinated against this.

The Rabies Virus

Rabies is a virus that’s usually spread through saliva in an open wound. It travels through the wound and attaches to nerve cells. From there, it travels up to the brain, where it attacks the cells, which can lead to certain death for dogs. In humans it can be fatal if it’s not treated. This is one of the diseases transmitted by dogs that can be transmitted to humans as well.

It’s long been said that you can identify a rabid dog by its foaming at the mouth. While this could be a sign, alone it’s not a reason to believe your dog has rabies. However, if that’s but one symptom of many, it’s worth having your dog checked out. If your dog is acting strangely, perhaps aggressive when it’s usually good-natured, or outgoing when it’s usually shy, this could possibly be a sign that the virus has already attacked the nervous system. At this point, there’s nothing that can be done to save it. Since it’s such a dangerous disease, it’s illegal in most areas not to vaccinate your pets against it.

Another dangerous disease transmitted by dogs is parvovirus. Though it is almost certainly fatal in puppies, it can be treated in older dogs. This virus is highly contagious, and spread through contact with nearly everything associated with an infected dog: paws, fur, saliva, bedding, feces and urine. Once a dog is around another dog with parvovirus, it’s difficult to avoid becoming infected.

A major symptom is severe diarrhea, as the virus attacks the digestive system. It can also affect the heart muscle, setting the stage for congestive heart failure later. This is another disease from which it’s critical to provide your dog protection. The good news is, there is a vaccine available that will offer full protection against this.

It’s possible that your dog can contract a wide variety of diseases from other dogs, but it’s virtually impossible to predict which ones, if any, your dog will get. As a proactive measure, it’s always a good idea to know your dog’s routine. Know its daily schedule, how much it eats and when it naps. This way, you’ll be able to quickly identify whether or not it’s acting differently, and address any potential problems before it’s too late. Regular vet visits help with general well-being, but if you’re between visits, and something just doesn’t seem right, it’s never a bad idea to get it checked out.

Because you keep your dog current on its vaccines, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other pet owners do (though we’d like to think that). Pay special attention to your dog’s behavior after it’s around other dogs, even dogs you know. Many communicable diseases take time to manifest themselves, so even if your dog seems fine immediately after playing with another dog, keep watch on it for a week or two after the interaction.

Generally, it’s easy to keep your dog healthy. Be sure your pet is vaccinated, if necessary, during his regular vet visits. As studies have proven that vaccines last longer than previously thought, a three-year-rabies shot as well as a three-year distemper shot are available. Vaccinating your dog against rabies is the law. Not only that, it will protect your dog from diseases transmitted by dogs.

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