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By Drs. Anne Brenneke and Ron Eby

Animal Advice

Animal Tips is written by Drs. Anne Brenneke and Ron Eby of St. Francis Veterinary Clinic, located at 310 County Road 706 in Green Forest, 870-423-2630.

Opinion

A guide to diseases common to pets in our region

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

As we enter a new year we wish you blessings, prosperity and good health, for you and your pets. It is easy to forget about the diseases that could affect our pets until they are sick. Dogs can be exposed to the Canine Parvovirus, Distemper, Influenza, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis and Rabies. Cats are not excluded from disease either. They can be exposed to Feline Panleukopenia, Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis (Herpes) virus, Chlamydia, Feline Leukemia, FIV and, of course, Rabies.

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal system -- usually of young, unvaccinated dogs. The symptoms caused by this vicious disease are vomiting, severe diarrhea and listless activity.

Parvo is considered to be highly contagious because it can be easily spread through contact with contaminated stool, surfaces, bowls, equipment, clothing and the hands of the people handling the pet. Therefore, your veterinarian may have a very strict protocol at their facility to prevent the spread of this disease.

The Parvo virus is very hardy and can live in the soil for an extended period of time--at least several months and maybe even years. The treatment for Parvo can be expensive, and is not always successful depending on the severity of the disease.

Canine Distemper is also a highly contagious virus. It can affect unvaccinated puppies and adult dogs. The virus is spread by inhalation of virus particles from an infected canine. Symptoms of this virus are runny eyes, fever, nasal discharge, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and paralysis. There is no treatment for this disease, which is often fatal.

Canine Influenza is spread by respiratory secretions, contaminated bowls or surfaces. Dogs with influenza may show symptoms such as coughing, fever, and snotty nose.

Leptospirosis is another disease that can affect our pet(s). Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is shed in the urine of infected animals including wildlife. Animals can be infected by drinking contaminated water or coming into contact with contaminated soil or food. Pets infected with Leptospirosis may develop fever, muscle weakness, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, and kidney or liver failure.

Hepatitis can cause liver infections in dogs. Symptoms of this disease include fever, depression, loss of appetite and icterus.

Feline Panleukopenia is a virus which attacks the cats' gastrointestinal tract causing ulcerations which can lead to bloody diarrhea, dehydration, anemia, and death. The virus is spread through contact with an infected animal or contaminated environment. This virus is very hardy and can survive in extreme conditions.

Feline Calici and Rhinotracheitis (Herpes) are viruses which affect the respiratory tract of cats. They can cause symptoms such as: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, eye or mouth ulcers or fever. Once a cat is infected with the Calici or Herpes virus it can become a lifelong "carrier" of these diseases and shed the organisms for a long period of time.

The Feline Leukemia virus is spread from cat-to-cat through bite wounds, casual contact with infected cats, or to kittens from an infected mother. We often think that leukemia only affects the "outdoor" cats, but even the cat that goes outside "every now and then" can still be at risk with even just one contact with an infected cat.

Symptoms of Feline Leukemia may include loss of appetite, poor coat condition, oral disease, anemia, diarrhea, fever, and death.

Feline Immunodefic-iency Virus is another contagious disease cat disease for which there are no effective vaccines and no cure once the cat has become infected. These cats are often chronic 'poor doers' and develop many secondary infections which their immune systems are unable to fight off.

Rabies is a virus that is capable of infecting any mammal including our domestic animals. The virus is spread by a bite from an infected animal or through saliva from an infected animal coming into contact with an open wound. Rabies is always a fatal disease but can easily be prevented in our pets through routine vaccinations.

Most of these diseases can cause severe illness or death in our pet(s) if they are not prevented and or treated; however, they are all easily prevented through routine vaccinations as well as by avoiding contact with sick animals.

So as we make our New Year's resolutions to take better care of ourselves this coming year, let us also resolve to take better care of our four-legged friends, too! Contact your veterinarian to make an appointment to update your pet(s) on their vaccinations.

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Animal Advice is written by Anne Brenneke, DVM, of St. Francis Veterinary Clinic, located at 310 County Road 706 in Green Forest, 870-423-2630.