Distemper, infectious hepatitis, kennel cough and parvovirus are four serious illnesses that are totally avoidable. Unfortunately, dogs are still contracting these illnesses every year because their vaccinations aren't up-to-date. Dogs should be vaccinated at six weeks old and again at twelve weeks old. Then, they'll need a yearly booster injection to continue being safe. Here's an overview of these four illnesses and what they can do to your dog:
Distemper is a viral illness that attacks the gastrointestinal system, nervous system, lymph nodes and respiratory system. There's no cure for distemper and any contact with an infected animal will put your dog at risk. A dog with distemper will be lethargic and be unable to keep food down. As the illness progresses, they will have seizures and succumb to paralysis. If your dog develops distemper, all your vet can do is administer intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and keep them comfortable. It's a waiting game and your dog's immune system may or may not be able to fight off the virus.
This virus targets the kidneys, lungs and liver, and your dog can contract infectious hepatitis by exposure to the bodily fluids of a sick dog. Without prompt treatment, this painful illness can be fatal. Your dog may have infectious hepatitis if they have a swollen abdomen, have a seemingly insatiable thirst and appear jaundiced. Your vet can administer pain medication and antibiotics, and if your dog is in the late stages of this illness, your vet can try giving them a blood transfusion to rid them of this virus.
All your dog has to do to contract kennel cough is inhale the water droplets from the breath of an infected dog. This illness is caused by bacteria, which attacks the lungs and causes inflammation. Signs of this illness include a hacking cough and discharge from the eyes and nose. Kennel cough can be difficult to treat as the offending bacteria need to be completely eradicated. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics and monitor your dog's response to treatment.
Parvovirus is frighteningly robust and can survive for long periods without a living host. This means an infected dog can defecate on the pavement and weeks later your dog can come into contact with the virus by simply coming into contact with the pavement. Parvovirus targets the gastrointestinal tract and can cause internal bleeding. Diarrhoea, vomiting and passing blood are common symptoms of this illness, and as there's no cure, it's often fatal. Your vet can keep your dog comfortable by giving them medication to stop them being sick and keeping them hydrated.
As you can see, contracting any of these four illnesses will leave your dog in pain and put their life at risk. Keeping your dog's vaccinations up-to-date will protect them from these serious illnesses, but it's also a requirement if you want to take your pooch on holiday or board them in kennels.