Infectious diseases in dogs

Posted on October 10 2018

Infectious diseases in dogs

Dogs are exposed to various pathogens and therefore to the risk of contracting an infectious disease. Here are the main ones, their mechanisms, their treatments (when they exist) and the methods of prevention.

A disease is said to be infectious when it is caused by the transmission of a virus , parasite , bacterium , fungus , protozoan or other microorganism . Infectious diseases are more or less contagious. Some of them are transmissible to humans through direct contact or through various vectors (mosquitoes, droppings, etc.). There are treatments available in some of them, but prevention  and vaccination against these diseases always remains the most effective and reliable measure.


The rage has almost disappeared in France thanks to systematic vaccinations in all dogs. A viral zoonosis , it can be transmitted to humans as a result of a bite by the infected dog, a scratch or licking (if the skin is damaged by a lesion).

The symptoms appear on average 4 weeks after infection. It usually consists of: fever, local inflammation, modification of the dog's behavior, then dilation of the pupils, change of the voice of the animal, aggression, convulsions, excessive salivation, respiratory insufficiency ... All these signs can lead to a state comatose, then death .

It is therefore important to vaccinate your dog against rabies, just like other diseases that are systematically vaccinated.

Square disease

Viral and highly contagious , distemper is more severe in puppies for which the levels of antibodies transmitted by the mother are decreasing. The transmission of Carré's disease is by air. The virus responsible for it belongs to the same family as measles.

It is manifested by respiratory (coughing, nasal discharge), ocular (discharge in the eyes), digestive (diarrhea and vomiting), behavioral (depression, loss of appetite) and dermatological disorders (hyperkeratosis: thickening of the skin on the skin). truffles and pads). Of seizures may occur in some infected dogs.

There is no cure for distemper, but preventive vaccination of the animal and disinfection of the environment can prevent it.

Kennel cough

The kennel cough or canine infectious tracheobronchitis attack the respiratory tract of the animal. This highly contagious disease is transmitted by the close contact between dogs in kennels and all kinds of gatherings.

Older dogs and puppies are vulnerable to kennel cough, which is caused by various pathogens: Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), Canine parainfluenza virus (CPi), Adenovirus 1 and 2 (CAV-1 and CAV-2). The sick dog gives a hoarse and dry cough. He has nasal and ocular discharge, sneezing and fever. Fatigability and loss of appetite are also gaining. The veterinarian will then prescribe antibiotic treatment with a cough suppressant.

Canine parvovirosis

A particularly resistant virus , canine parvovirus is the cause of parvovirosis , which is one of the common diseases in animals that have not been vaccinated. Transmitted through canine droppings, it can be carried by parvovirus CPV -2a and CPV -2b.

Parvovirosis can lead to a severe form of gastroenteritis  : dejection, loss of appetite, vomiting and haemorrhagic diarrhea , with severe dehydration that can lead to death of the dog. Since there is no cure, prevention is the only way to protect your dog from this disease. He must be vaccinated at a young age , then regularly throughout his life.


Zoonosis (transmissible to humans) is serious, it is driven by Leptospira interrogans , a spirochaete bacteria that is transmitted through the urine of infected dogs. The symptoms of this disease are of various intensities, ranging from depression to liver or kidney damage, to abdominal pain. The most severe cases can lead to the death of the animal.

The main form of treatment is a specific antibiotic, but the results are not always at the rendezvous. In some very serious cases, a blood transfusion may indeed be required. The prevention, via a regular vaccination (renewed every year) concerning the 4 strains of leptospires raging in France, helps to protect the dog effectively.


The piroplasmosis or babesiosis is a disease parasite . Transmitted by ticks , it is caused by a protozoan (Babesia canis canis) that attacks red blood cells. Fatigability, fever, loss of appetite, and dark urine are some of the signs that may suggest such an infection, which is often accompanied by anemia and a weakening of the immune system of the infected dog.

Treatment involves both acting on the anemia and eliminating the parasite. The preventive vaccine against piroplasmosis is associated with the protection of the animal against ticks. These must be removed systematically by means of a pull-tick , for example, and removed with external pest control products (spray, pipette ...).

Rubarth Hepatitis

The hepatitis Rubarth is a contagious viral disease particularly dangerous because it can kill the dog in just a few hours . It attacks the liver, kidneys, but also the eyes and lungs. As with leptospirosis, it is through the urine of infected dogs that it is transmitted from one animal to another.

It causes loss of appetite, fever, change of mucosal color, conjunctivitis, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. A corneal opacity can also be observed. Again, there is no treatment. Preventative vaccination is the only way to fight this virus.

Canine leishmaniasis

The leishmaniasis is carried by the sand fly , a midge present everywhere on the Mediterranean and carrier of the parasite Leishmania that the dog inoculated by pricking.

The disease greatly weakens the animal's immune system, where symptoms can appear long after infection (sometimes years). The dog can lose weight and hair, especially around the eyes, have a high fever, suffer from anemia or eye disorders.

Its treatment is both difficult and without guarantee of effectiveness. Its prevention is essentially to protect the dog against sandflies during their period of activity (May to September), via a collar pest control , for example.

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