I hope this message finds you and your four-legged companions in good health and high spirits. Every fall, we make a point to take a moment to share some important information about common canine illnesses, their symptoms, and preventive measures you can take to keep your beloved pets happy and healthy.
Canines, like us, can experience a range of health issues, but with love and guidance, we can work together to ensure their well-being. Having social dogs is like having kids in school. Communicable illnesses are likely inevitable, which is why it's our mission to maintain high standards in health and cleanliness. Today, I'd like to share some insights into common canine communicable diseases, their symptoms, and simple preventive measures you can take.
Canine Distemper: A highly contagious, airborne virus that targets the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system. The wide range of symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing, and, in advanced cases, neurological signs such as seizures and muscle twitches. The canine distemper vaccine is considered a "core" vaccine, recommended for every dog, and is a very effective vaccine to protect your dog from this deadly disease.
Canine Influenza: A relatively new disease in dogs that is spread through respiratory secretions and contaminated objects (surfaces, dishes, leashes, toys). The virus can survive for up to 48 hours on surfaces and up to 12 hours on people's body. Symptoms include coughing, fever, and nasal discharge, very similar to kennel cough. The canine influenza vaccine is available and is effective on many strains of the virus.
Kennel Cough: A canine cough that can be a viral or bacterial infection. The primary causative agents include the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and several viruses, including the canine parainfluenza virus. Symptoms include a persistent, dry cough sometimes accompanied by a retching, hacking, or honking sound. You can think of this like the human common cold. The Bordetella vaccination is extremely common, can be effective, and is recommended for any social dog.
Leptospirosis: Caused by the Leptospira bacteria which is shed in the urine of infected animals. Other animals, including dogs and people, usually become infected after coming into contact with contaminated water, soil, or food. Symptoms include fever, weakness, vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain. There is a vaccine for Leptospirosis, which is most often administered as part of the canine distemper combo vaccine (e.g. DHLPP is a five-way vaccine).
Papillomas: Otherwise known as "puppy warts", these are benign growths caused by the canine papillomavirus. Symptoms include small, raised, and sometimes cauliflower-like masses that appear on a dog's lips and mouth. It is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or contaminated surface and usually affects young dogs or those with weakened immune systems. Treatment is only necessary if it interferes with eating or causing complications, otherwise, the sores typically heal on their own over time.
Parasites: Internal and external parasites can be picked up regardless of social exposure. Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms lay eggs that are passed in the dog's stool. They can spread to other dogs that come in contact with the contaminated surface then lick their paws or fur. Ticks, fleas, mange, lice, mites, heartworms, Coccidia, and Giardia are all examples of parasites. Symptoms of internal parasites may include changes in appetite, weight loss, and gastrointestinal distress. There are many, very effective, prescription and over-the-counter preventatives for internal and external parasites.
"The Mystery Respiratory Illness": It's in the news now, but has been reported in some states since the middle of last year. This illness represents itself very similarly to Kennel Cough but is resistant to most antibiotics. Without proper treatment, it can progress to pneumonia. Reports indicate that the illness has been contracted by dogs that are social and by those that have not been exposed to other dogs. 14 states have reported the illness, PA, WV, and OH NOT included at this time. The cause is currently unknown. However, as of November 28, 2023, it has been reported that a lesser used, "last-resort" antibiotic has been noticed to treat the illness successfully. Oxygen therapy and nebulization are also known to help.
Here at The Indoor Dog Park, we take health and cleanliness very seriously. After all, the Park was built to protect our small dog, Josie, who contracted many illnesses greeting unknown dogs at regular dog parks. To protect your dogs and ours, we maintain very strict Park Rules. No unknown dogs are allowed. The Park is for vetted dogs only, as a first defense to protect us from health and safety risks. Our security and access system helps, too. If any dog at the Park exhibits any symptoms of illness, we're able to identify and inform anyone else that may have been in contact. Being indoors with synthetic grass means everything is able to be sanitized. We have a routine protocol to sanitize all surfaces and disinfect the air. In addition, our HVAC system includes air-purifying filtration. Our ability to quickly and completely remove pees and poops from the play area ensures we and our dogs are not spreading it around the park and tracking it home. Even the dog fountains are designed with health in mind. They're empty by design and only fill for each use, then automatically drain completely to prevent stagnant water. Like we hear from our Veterinary advisors, we've "thought of it all" and our diligence in upholding our standards rewards us in continuing to be a safe place to play and exercise.
Prevention is a team effort and we need your help. Here are a few things you can do to help:
Schedule regular vet check-ups to ensure timely vaccinations and stay diligent on administering preventatives.
Ensure your dog is on a healthy, balanced diet to fortify their defenses.
Consider supplementing your dog's diet with immune-boosting supplements such as vitamins (C and E), omega-3 fatty acids, colostrum, turmeric, and probiotics.
Provide regular exercise to promote healthy movement of their lymphatic system.
Avoid contact with unknown dogs, wild animals, and untreated water sources.
Provide regular grooming. This gives you and/or your groomer a chance to inspect the coat, skin, ears, and paws.
Regularly clean bedding and toys.
Provide proper socialization and training to reduce stress and anxiety, contributing to a healthier mental state.
For all of our members, we appreciate your continued help in preventing the spread of illnesses and, as a reminder, please report to us if your dog exhibits any symptoms so we can take extra measures in eradicating any potential infection before it spreads and always seek veterinary care for diagnosis and treatment. As always, we are committed to staying on top of any news related to health, safety, and wellness and will always share new and helpful information with you, especially as it pertains to the mystery respiratory illness currently in the news. While it's essential to be aware of health risks, do not live in fear. Channeling your energy into living a normal, healthy, happy life and being proactive on preventative care actually reduces the likelihood of illnesses. Please feel free to share this message with your friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues. Peace and Blessings this Holiday season! Jon and Sarah (and Josie and Hazel)