Educational Articles

Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • Chagas disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, is an infection that is primarily observed in Latin America. In recent years, however, this infection has been observed at various sites in the Southern United States. Chagas disease is spread by the bite of certain insects, including the Mexican Kissing Beetle and other related insects. The clinical signs of Chagas disease are variable and non-specific. There is currently no consensus on the best method of treatment for Chagas disease.

  • Cheyletiellosis is an uncommon but highly contagious skin parasite of dogs, cats and rabbits caused by Cheyletiella spp. mites. It is also referred to as walking dandruff due to the appearance of the large, whitish mites as they crawl across skin and fur, and the excessive scaling that accompanies the infection.

  • Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a single-celled organism (protozoa) called coccidia. Some infections in dogs are not associated with any detectable clinical signs; however, puppies and debilitated adult dogs may have severe watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. The most common drug used to eliminate coccidia is a sulfa-type antibiotic, sulfadimethoxine. Reinfection of susceptible dogs is common, so environmental disinfection is important. Good hygiene and proper disposal of dog feces are important in minimizing the risk of transmission of all canine parasites to humans or other animals.

  • SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus that has not previously been identified. This virus is not the same coronavirus that can cause the common cold in humans, nor is it the same as canine coronavirus (CCoV). At this time, there is no evidence that any animal or pet can infect humans with the new coronavirus. Because this is a new virus and information is still being collected, as a precaution, restrict contact with your pets if you are diagnosed with COVID-19. Currently, a vaccine for this new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is not available.

  • Discospondylitis is a bacterial or fungal infection of the intervertebral disks and the adjacent vertebral bone. This infection may reach the intervertebral disk via one of three routes: hematogenous (blood borne), direct contamination, or migrating foreign body. Discospondylitis can often be diagnosed based on X-rays, but advanced imaging and other diagnostic tests may be required. Treatment and prognosis depend on the causative organism.

  • Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic dogs and other animals such as ferrets, skunks, and raccoons. It is an incurable, often fatal, multisystemic (affecting multiple organs) disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. The disease is spread mainly by direct contact between a susceptible dog and a dog showing symptoms. The main clinical signs are diarrhea, vomiting, thick yellow discharge from the eyes and nose, cough and, in severe cases, seizures and neurological signs. As with most viral infections, there is no specific treatment. Fortunately we have highly effective vaccines to prevent this deadly disease.

  • Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne disease primarily from the brown dog tick. Clinical signs can sometimes be missed and can vary from very subtle to severe, even possibly leading to death. Effective treatments are available and depending on the severity of the disease blood transfusions may be required. Many tick preventives are available to prevent this disease from occurring in your dog.

  • Giardiasis is an intestinal infection in humans and animals, caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite. The parasite occurs worldwide and is a common cause of "Traveler's Diarrhea" in people. Outdoor enthusiasts who inadvertently consume contaminated water may develop "beaver fever", which is another name for giardiasis in people.

  • Heartworm disease or dirofilariasis is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is caused by a blood-borne parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. Treatment usually consists of several parts including an injectable drug to kill adult heartworms, antibiotics, and treatment to kill microfilaria. There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare.

  • Hepatozoonosis is a disease caused by a protozoan (a small, microscopic organism) known as Hepatozoon. There are two species that cause hepatozoonosis, Hepatozoon canis and H. americanum, and there are differences in the course of disease and treatment depending on which species is the cause of the disease. Both species are spread by ticks; the most effective method to prevent hepatozoonosis is the regular use of an effective tick prevention.