Common Canine Diseases & Vaccinations

May 12, 2022

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Knowledge is key to understanding how best to look after our pets.  MSD Animal Health have detailed the common diseases your dog will be vaccinated against.  Read on to find out more detail on specific diseases that we look out for at The Village Vet.

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Common Canine Diseases

Canine Distemper 

Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Convulsions and paralysis may occur in the disease’s final stages. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.

Canine Tracheobronchitis (Canine Cough) 

Just as with the human common cold, this respiratory tract infection is very easily transmitted from one dog to another. It is caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses, including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2 and Bordatella bronchiseptica. You will first notice its onset by your dog’s dry, hacking cough.

Canine Parvovirus 

Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, the disease caused by this virus emerged in many parts of the world in 1978. Spread through infected faeces, the highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for more than a year. Symptoms include fever, listlessness, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this, often fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis 

Caused by Canine Adenovirus Type 1, this disease is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or faeces. Its symptoms are similar to those of the early stages of distemper. Causing liver failure, eye damage and breathing problems, the course of this disease can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.


Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs, other animals, and even people. The disease is caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called Leptospires that live in water or warm, wet soil. The disease is largely spread through rat urine which contaminates stagnant water. Dogs can present with many different symptoms ranging from lethargy, fever, diarrhoea and vomiting to kidney and liver failure. It is often fatal in dogs.

Canine Heartworm / Intestinal Worms

Heartworm is a parasitic disease that can affect any dog regardless of age, sex or habitat. It is found in many parts of Australia. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, and tends to have a higher incidence in areas heavily populated by mosquitoes. Dogs are considered the most common host for heartworms, however heartworms may also infect more than thirty other animal species (including foxes, domestic cats, ferrets).

Heartworm is the most serious common parasite in dogs because it stresses the dog’s heart by restricting blood flow and damages other internal organs. The heart may enlarge and become weakened due to an increased workload, and congestive heart failure may occur. Left untreated, the disease can be fatal to dogs. Treatment of severe disease may involve physical removal of adult worms from the heart. Blood screening tests can verify the presence of immature heartworm (microfilariae). Ultrasound and x-rays are used to detect the disease in its later stages. Prompt detection prevents needless suffering.

Because of the regional and climate-dependent nature of the heartworm cycle, it is crucial to consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your pet.

You can read a full Overview of Parasitic Infections including Heartworm/Intestinal Worms, Hookworms, Roundworms, Tapeworms and Whipworms on the MSD Website.  Article written by Chelsea Marie , PhD, University of Virginia and William A. Petri, Jr  , MD, PhD, University of Virginia School of Medicine.

How Effective is Vaccination?

Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, vaccinations cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and a clean environment, vaccination is clearly your pet’s best defence against disease. Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.

What You Can do at Home

  • Check your dog’s mouth, eyes and ears regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharges.
  • Keep your pet’s sleeping area clean and warm.
  • Groom your pet often. You’ll detect any unusual sores or lumps and keep their coat healthy.
  • Make fresh water available at all times.
  • Maintain a routine of proper nutrition, exercise and loving attention.

A Note to Remember

Remember that you know your pet best so if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is always best to give us a call so we can check your pet and advise you on the best health care path for them. Together, we can ensure we keep them happy and healthy.

Prevention is always better than cure, a proactive preventative care program for your pet will enhance their lives and reduce the risk of them having to undergo more extensive and costly treatments. Ask us for more advice on the best course of action for your pet.


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