I recently wrote about Cadel, a dog that someone called us about saying he was found and had demodex mange. One reader asked me about what other health problems to look for when bringing a stray dog into the home.
Let’s quickly go over the demodex mange. It is actually caused by a mite that one cannot see with the naked eye. According to www.pets.webmd.com, the demodex mange will occur mostly in dogs under 1. It thins the fur/hair and acts a lot like ringworm. It is mostly in puppies and adult dogs that have a lowered immune system for another reason. It typically is not contagious, however, it never hurts to be overly cautious.
Some of the diseases that one needs to worry about in strays are distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, rabies, bordatella, coronavirus, and giardiosis. Whew, a long list huh?
Well, understand many of these diseases are preventable if your dog is up to date on vaccinations and you are careful to keep the new animal away from other pets until you can pay a visit to the local vet for a health checkup.
Out of the list above, the one that is fatal is rabies. The others have treatment, but I feel you need to understand them all a little more.
Distemper is transmitted through the air, shoes, eyes and nose. Due to it being through the air, this makes is highly contagious! You should watch for runny vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, runny nose, coughing, fatigue and not eating. Mostly the one thing that you can do to help this is to help your dog get food, water and monitor him or her.
Hepatitis can actually be transmitted through feces, saliva and urine. In humans, we can control that right? Well, not so easy in dogs; after all, how do they decide where to pee? That’s right, by sniffing stool and where other dogs have peed. I have also witnessed dogs licking other dogs in the mouth. All ways for it to be transmitted. This disease would call for a visit to the vet for medication and IV fluids. This disease can rapidly progress, so make sure you get to the vet immediately.
Leptospirosis is mostly transmitted in infected urine…once again, dogs sniffing. Some of the symptoms for this would be tired, vomiting, not eating. The dog will need antibiotics to treat this disease.
Parainfluenza is transmitted through the air! Just like humans, it is through coughing and sneezing. Now, I am not sure about dogs, but humans can transmit up to 20 feet if they cough or sneeze. This is something that antibiotics will again need.
Parvovirus is very dangerous. This can go either way and be treated or become fatal. This is transmitted when a dog contacts infected stool from another dog, or on the bottom of your shoes, hands, etc. The dog will not eat, be tired, not drink, vomit and have diarrhea (often bloody). This is a disease that you need to contact and get to the vet immediately. The dog will need IV fluids and antibiotics.
Bordatella or kennel cough is transmitted through the respiratory system, such as the nose. You will notice your dog coughing. It will need to get an antibiotic.
Coronavirus is also transmitted through feces. The dog will mostly be dehydrated, have diarrhea and be tired. Most important with this is to make sure your dog is hydrated.
Giardiosis is mostly found in bodies of water where there can be animal stool in the water. Many dogs do not show symptoms of this, but will continue to carry the disease. The dog will have diarrhea, and it will smell horrible. There will also be vomiting, fatigue and weight loss. Your dog will need to be put on antibiotics immediately.
This is just a brief overview of some of the “contagious” diseases in dogs, but there is always more information on each one of these. Please do not think that I am trying to keep you from taking in and helping a dog. I would NEVER do that, but I also want to make sure you protect your own! You can quarantine the stray until you find out what is going on.
Also, if you are getting a dog from a local and reputable shelter or rescue group, the canine will have undergone a health checkup and received the necessary vaccinations prior to adoption.
About this column: "Rescue Me" features pet adoption and foster stories and important tips for dog owners. It appears every Monday.