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Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • Ringworm infections in cats are caused by a fungus, not a worm. They can be easily recognized, though definitive testing by fungal culture is recommended. Ringworm is highly contagious and can be spread between animals and from animals to people. The clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and risks are explained in this handout.

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is spread by various species of ticks and is not confined just to the Rocky Mountain regions of North America. Clinical signs can be non-specific and affect multiple body systems. Early diagnosis and treatment give the best prognosis for recovery after treatment with antibiotics. Prevention of tick bites and prompt removal of ticks is important.

  • Roundworms are parasites that live freely in the intestine, feeding off of partially digested intestinal contents. Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina are two important species of roundworms in dogs. Infected dogs shed the microscopic roundworm eggs in their feces. Other dogs may become infected by sniffing or licking infected feces. There are many safe and effective preparations available to kill adult roundworms in the intestine.

  • Salmon poisoning is caused by a type of bacteria found within parasitic flatworms that infect the tissues of wild fish found in coastal streams of the Pacific Northwest.

  • H1N1 influenza virus emerged in pigs as a genetic sharing of DNA from both human and swine influenza viruses. It caused a deadly pandemic in 2009 and continues to be an important cause of illness today. Pets including cats and dogs can be infected from their owners and become ill. It is not yet thought to transfer from pets to humans. Because influenza viruses appear to be capable of swapping genes, there is potential for new variants of influenza viruses to be generated at any time leading to another pandemic of severe disease in humans and other animals. Good hygiene and exposure restriction should be taken immediately if there is any sign of influenza-like infection to restrict spread between humans and between humans and their pets or domestic animals.

  • Tapeworms are parasites that infect the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, other animals, and humans. Several types of tapeworms are known to infect pets, but the most common species observed in dogs is Dipylidium caninum, which is transmitted through fleas. Risk factors, clinical signs, treatment, and prevention are explained in this handout. Other, less common types of tapeworms that affect dogs and humans are also covered.

  • Tetanus is a medical condition caused by a toxin. This toxin, produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, affects the nerves, spinal cord and brain, leading to hyperexcitability resulting in muscle spasms. Dogs are less susceptible to the effects of tetanus toxin than humans and horses. Tetanus is typically diagnosed based on exam findings. Dogs with tetanus require intensive nursing care. Most dogs develop localized, self-limiting disease, which will respond to appropriate early treatment.

  • **This article has been specifically written for dog walkers and how they can reduce their exposure to COVID-19.** COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease in humans, initially discovered late in 2019. Although all coronaviruses are related, they are not all the same virus; SARS-CoV-2 cannot cause canine coronavirus infection, and vice versa. As a dog walker, it is important to limit direct contact with your clients. People can shed the virus without showing any symptoms of disease, so it is important to practice physical distancing even with clients who appear healthy. It is also important to limit your contact with potentially contaminated items in your clients’ homes, whether they are at home or not. The most important things you can do to minimize your risk of infection, and minimize the risk of transferring infection to your clients, is to be cautious when interacting with clients and when touching anything that could be contaminated. Communicate with your clients regularly during this pandemic. Having information about your clients’ health can help you avoid taking unnecessary risks. Finally, if you develop any signs of COVID-19, including cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, it is important that you stay home from work.

  • **This article has been specifically written for pet sitters and how they can reduce their exposure to COVID-19.** COVID-19 is a new respiratory disease in humans, initially discovered late in 2019. Although all coronaviruses are related, they are not all the same virus. As a pet sitter, it is important to limit direct contact with your clients. People can shed the virus without showing any symptoms of disease, so it is important to practice physical distancing even with clients who appear healthy. It is also important to limit your contact with potentially contaminated items in your clients’ homes, whether they are at home or not. The most important things you can do to minimize your risk of infection, and minimize the risk of transferring infection to your clients, is to be cautious when interacting with clients and when touching anything that could be contaminated, wear a mask, and maintain at least 6 feet distance from your clients. Communicate with your clients regularly during this pandemic. Having information about your clients’ health can help you avoid taking unnecessary risks. Finally, if you develop any signs of COVID-19, including cough, fever, and/or shortness of breath, it is important that you stay home from work.

  • Tularemia is an infection of the bacteria Francisella tularensis and is most common in rabbits and rodents. Infection in dogs occurs from ingestion of an infected animal, contaminated water, or the bite of a blood sucking insect. Tularemia causes mild illness in healthy dogs. More severe clinical signs include enlarged lymph nodes and draining abscesses. Diagnosis includes physical exam, bloodwork, and urinalysis, as well as paired serum titers. PCR can also be used to identify the bacteria in a blood sample. Treatment includes antibiotics, surgical removal of any draining abscesses and any other supportive warranted by the dog’s condition. Tularemia is a reportable zoonotic disease.

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