Prevention is always better than cure!

Prevention is always better than cure!–Understanding canine vector-borne diseases

Canine Vector Borne Diseases (CVBD) have become a global issue.Many of the parasite transmitted diseases affect humans as well as animals. The dog as man’s best friend plays an important role being effected by and serving as a host for some of the zoonotic pathogens. Here’s more on the CVBDs.

The vulnerable dogs…

Blood-feeding parasites can transmit a variety of pathogens to dogs. These arthropods including ticks, fleas, flies and mosquitoes can transmit bacteria, protozoa, viruses or helminths to dogs which can lead to infections such as babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, leishmaniasis or heartworm disease. Some vectors such as ticks can transmit more than one pathogen. Besides, different Canine Vector Borne Diseases show similar clinical signs which, ultimately complicate the diagnosis and treatment.

Various factors predispose dogs to infections with two or multiple vector transmitted pathogens:

  • Dogs living in areas that are highly endemic for several vector borne pathogens.
  • Animals living predominantly outdoors thus facilitating enhanced vector transmission.
  • Irregular or no use of ectoparasiticides.
  • A suppressed immune response (due to old age, underlying infection or immunosuppressive therapy).

Tick-borne pathogens…

Ticks are one of the most important vectors that transmit CVBD as they harbor the largest number of different pathogens. Ticks are especially suitable for pathogen transmission, by attaching securely to their hosts and facilitating effective transmission of infectious pathogens over a couple of days. Many of the diseases caused by these tick-borne pathogens possess a wide variety of clinical features and share non-specific signs such as wasting, weight loss, fever and poor appetite or anorexia all making it a challenge to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

In co-infections with pathogen that have different clinical signs, the extent to which different infections might influence each other’s pathophysiology is not clear.

The life-cycle of ticks…

Tick-borne pathogens are a cause of animal and human suffering. A large number of different pathogens are transferred from infected ticks to dogs following tick attachment and feeding. However, transmission of tick-borne disease agents does not appear to occur immediately when the tick begins feeding for the first time in a given life cycle. A reactivation period is required for the pathogens to begin replicating, migrate to or be activated in, the salivary glands and be transmitted to the host when the tick regurgitates excess fluid back into the bite wound.

In most tick-borne disease systems, an initial attachment and feeding period of at least 24-48 hours is thought to be required to allow reactivation of tick-borne pathogens and subsequent transmission. Time is required for e.g. the spirochetes to be activated, increase in numbers and migrate for the midgut to the salivary glands. Partially fed ticks will readily reattach to new hosts and resume feeding, similarly if a tick infected as a larva or nymph to one host and then moves on to the second host for next life cycle stage, faster transmission time is likely to occur.

Pathogens are transmitted to dogs by a variety of different species of hard ticks (ixodid) or soft ticks (argasid). The hard ticks, for example, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, commonly known as the brown dog tick, spend all three stages of its life cycle on dogs and require a blood meal prior to sexual maturation and mating. Ixodes spp. are responsible for transmitting Borrelia burgdorferi and Anaplasma phagocytophilum to dogs.

Canine infection occurs when salivary secretions form the tick contaminate the attachment site during ingestion of a blood meal, Adult R. sanguineus are capable of transmitting E. canis for at least 155 days following detachment from the host.

Control programme…

There is a need for a comprehensive control programme for vector borne pathogens, due to the new distribution patterns of vectors.

Prevention of arthropod bites is mainly achieved by preventing the attachment and thus further blood feeding, if possible. Broad spectrum ectoparasiticides with repellent properties such as the pyrethroid insecticide, are ideal compounds to achieve this goal, as they prevent the biting of different vectors like ticks, flies, fleas and mosquitoes and therefore minimise the host parasite interaction, thus decreasing the risk of disease transmission. A regular treatment with these compounds during the transmission period is crucial for the prevention of single and multiple canine vector borne diseases.

Prevention: Apart from babesiosis & borreliosis, there are no protective vaccines available to prevent dogs from the above-mentioned infections. To overcome this dilemma, pet animals (especially dogs) should be protected against ectoparasite infections in the first place. Besides husbandry measures, such as keeping dogs indoors in endemic areas, effective prophylaxis may also be provided by regular use of ectoparasiticidal products with a repellent, as well as insecticidal & acaricidal action.

(Contributed by Dr Mandar Deshpande, Business Manager – Companion Animal Products, Bayer Pharmaceuticals Pvt Limited)

Swim for cure

Did you ever think that water can have a calming, soothing and therapeutic effect on your canine? Hydrotherapy for canines is gaining popularity not just for health benefits, but also for emotional and spiritual gains. Here’s more on this amazing therapy.

The benefits of swimming and moving in water on the physical body are well known and have been used for centuries. The buoyancy of water supports and lessens stress on the joints, encourages free movement and Complete Careprovides a safe environment for exercise.

Canine hydrotherapy is helpful for pooches suffering from geriatrics and arthritis, paralysis and other mobility issues, pre and post surgical rehabilitation, injury prevention and rehabilitation, helping obesity, dysplasia, increasing body awareness, balance, and coordination and to just plain help fitness and muscle tone.

The health benefits…

Water both stimulates and relaxes and can affect all systems of the body on the physical level.

Let’s see how:

The wonderful water... Hydrotherapy or water therapy is the use of an underwater treadmill or swimming for rehabilitation of dogs who have had surgery or injuries. It can also be used as a conditioning programme for healthy dogs. The session…
You work with the dogs in the water until they are comfortable. Motivation is a key element; so you find what motivates each dog to optimise their work out. The benefits…
It is non-weight bearing, thus eliminates stress on the joints. The coolness of the water allows for extended cardiovascular work outs, since there is resistance in each direction of movement MANY muscle groups are worked-vs.- on land. Dogs who are paralyzed on land most often begin paddling as soon as they are put into the water.

The tools…
A lift/platform to get them in and out safely, lifejackets, leashes and toys! You also need a filter and pump to circulate the water and keep it sanitary.

The diseases cured…
Hip and elbow dysplasia, post-op for total hip replacements, torn cruciate ligaments, herniated discs as well as degenerative myelopathy, strokes, injuries, arthritis and obesity.

–Trish Penick

Integumentary System: This system speaks of our skin, the largest organ of the body which wraps and protects our entire being. Water increases circulation which can help skin and coat condition, besides stimulating all the touch receptors.

Muscular System: Water increases relaxation which can help reduce pain and spasms. When moving in water, the resistance is 15 – 20 times that of moving in air so muscles are being used without the stress of weight bearing. An efficient and safe way to exercise and build muscle!

Nervous System: Water can calm and sooth the nervous system, thus decreasing stress. Water can stimulate the sensations of joint position and re-establish sensation channels.

Circulatory System: Warm water can increase body temperature, causing blood vessels to dilate and increase circulation and detoxification, delivering nutrients and oxygen and carrying away wastes.

Endocrine System: Water can increase metabolic functions and hormones which regulate many processes in the body.

Lymphatic System: Water can increase lymph drainage, decrease inflammation and improve the immune system.

Respiratory System: Water can increase the depth of respiration through pressure on the lungs, providing oxygen and disposing off carbon dioxide.

Digestive System: Water can increase smooth muscle activity (digestion) which provides nutrients to cells and eliminates through the feces.

Urinary System: Water can increase blood flow through the kidneys (which filters the blood), the body gets rid of toxins (including anaesthetic) and removes waste products. This process can help regulate and balance water and electrolytes in the body.

The emotional benefits…

The healing potential of immersion in water on the emotional body is profound. Anyone who is in pain knows how soothing it is to slip into warm water. A sense of well-being flows over the body and the mind begins to relax. We were all (canines too) held in warm fluids for the first part of our lives. This was a time of safety and being taken care of. The influences at the cellular level of being held in warm water are intensely profound on the emotional body.

Back to canine water therapy, there are two sets of emotions involved here. We have our canine friend who may be getting older, losing mobility, has become disabled in some fashion, has some fear or pain around recent surgical or medical procedures, etc…. and then, just as important, we have that dog’s guardian – the person who is seeking options for help for their best friend who is in need. The bond that usually exists between a dog and their pet parent can be beyond words and any pain or disease can bring up fear and emotional pain for the person.

Japanese author Masaru Emoto has shown how the molecular structure of water changes with emotion. He has photographed molecules of water which have been infused with an emotion and his photographs show how water is alive and highly responsive to every one of our emotions and thoughts and takes on its environment.

Although a therapist cannot change someone’s emotions but can create an environment to help facilitate a change in their emotions, an environment that encourages thankfulness, joy and reduces stress.

It is at the top of my list of priorities in a hydro-therapy session that the dog in my arms feels safe. I am also aware of this dog’s person at poolside and I am mindful of being respectful and nurturing to their emotions as well. Finally, I take special care of my pool water in a respectful way so that it can partner with me on my mission to do what I can to help restore health.

(Cindy Horsfall owns and operates La Paw Spa ( based in Carlsborg, Washington where canines and their companions receive pampering, understanding and therapy. Trish Penick is an expert in deep water swimming who establishes Cutting Edge K9 Rehab ( receiving referrals from vets throughout San Diego, LA and other counties).

Sarah’s gift… a new definition of ‘Canine Water Therapy’

It was one of those good days, the kind that makes you glad to be alive.

It began when I met Sarah and ended as I drove home under a beautiful sunset sky that matched the warm glow inside of me.

Sarah is a six years old lab who has had some spondylosis in her spine. She is a perfect candidate for water therapy and enjoyed her session today, but that’s just part of the story that made this day such a good day.

People often ask me: “What is canine water therapy?” My response has always been something about tennis balls, splashing retrievers, warm water massage and devoted canine companions. I have always known how profound this work can be, but now, thanks to Sarah, an entirely new dimension of this work has emerged…. one that truly encompasses the power of love, family and that network of existence and support of which we are all a part.

Sarah is lovingly taken care of by two devoted and amazing people. The husband of this team was left brain damaged in a terrible climbing accident 18 months ago and neurologically impacted to the point where he is unable to use his left arm and leg without excruciating pain. The rehabilitation specialists have suggested that he try warm water therapy, but he is afraid and has resisted this idea.

He read an article about how water therapy can help our canine friends and when he read this story, he decided he wanted to have his Sarah be in the warm water… and that perhaps he would get in the water with her so that she wouldn’t be so afraid.

That was that day.

They all arrived at the spa today for Sarah’s session. I carried Sarah into the water and this man’s devoted wife and my wonderful assistant helped him into the warm water to be near his dog. I held Sarah close to him and she gave him kisses as he found his balance in the water. Over the next hour, he began to move his arm and leg without pain. He even tried to walk and venture out into the water with his beautiful, loving dog at his side leading the way. He laughed and told me his story and we all enjoyed the warm soothing waters of the spa together.

I fought back the tears many times during that session as a new, larger definition of water therapy grew in my mind. A definition that includes canine angels leading their beloved people to where they need to be… and the many gifts this work gives to me and my clients, gifts that aren’t wrapped in paper or tied in ribbons, but held in the heart with a warm glow that matches the sunset at the end of a really good day. Thank you Sarah.

–Cindy Horsfall

Viral infection in canines: prevention and cure

Our doggies too suffer from dreaded viral infections. One of the highly contagious viral diseases is caused by Canine Parvovirus-2. Here’s how to prevent, diagnose and treat it.


What is parvovirus gastroenteritis?

Canine Parvovirus gastroenteritis is a viral infection caused by Canine Parvovirus-2 (CPV-2) in dogs. It is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that occurs in carnivorous animals with dog as a principal host. The disease mainly affects gastrointestinal tract and heart of the dogs depending upon the age of the affected dog.

Dogs at risk

Generally dog of any age and sex can be affected by CPV-2 infection. Some breeds including Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers and German Shepherds are more predisposed to the disease than other dogs. But most severe form of the disease is observed in puppies of less than three months of age. Adult dogs are comparatively resistant to CPV-2 infection and develop only mild syndrome.

Transmission in dogs

The CPV-2 is very stable in environment and resistant to most of common disinfectants. The virus is transmitted to susceptible dogs by direct contact with the infected dog. Virus is also transmitted indirectly through contamination of the fomites, food by feces of infected dogs. The virus is shed in feces by infected dogs for at least three weeks after infection.

Signs of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

CPV-2 has affinity towards actively dividing cells in host body. So, virus attacks the actively dividing cells of the body which includes bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, intestinal epithelium and myocardial cells in puppies less than three month of age. Affected dogs show dullness, anorexia, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. The gastroenteritis is more severe in young pups below 20 weeks of age. The clinical disease is exaggerated by concurrent infection with opportunistic intestinal pathogens like Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Campylobacter, Coronavirus or worms.

The feces are loose and may contain mucus or in severe cases blood (melena). Fluid loss causes rapid dehydration and electrolyte and acid-base imbalance in young dogs. Affection of villous epithelium is also responsible for decrease in absorption of food. Affection of bone marrow causes reduction in white blood cells of body which might further increase susceptibility of dogs to a number of other infections. If appropriate treatment and care is provided, chances of recovery and survival increase. Occasionally affection of myocardium by virus may lead to congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema in pups less than three months old, finally culminating in death.

Diagnosis of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

Generally history of vaccination and clinical signs tell us about the Parvovirus gastroenteritis. Blood tinged diarrhoea and vomitng in unvaccinated but dewormed dogs give suspicion about CPV-2 infection. Laboratory tests like haemagglutination test, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect Parvovirus antigens in fecal sample of dogs are most commonly used for diagnosis of CPV-2 infection in dogs. Complete blood count and biochemical parameters will further tell about physical condition as well as outcome of the disease.

Treatment of Parvovirus gastroenteritis

There is no treatment as such for Parvovirus gastroenteritis. But timely supportive cares save life of dogs affected with CPV-2. In severe cases, signs of circulatory collapse blood transfusion or plasma expanders are indicated. Before transfusion of blood compatibility testing should be done with donor blood. But most commonly, fluid and electrolyte therapy remains as a mainstay of treatment of CPV-2 infection. Lactated Ringers solution and Dextrose is given intravenously to compensate fluid and electrolyte losses.

As affected dog is immunosuppressed, broad spectrum antibiotic coverage with bactericidal drug is required to check any secondary bacterial infection that might otherwise further aggravate the condition. Feeding and watering is commonly withheld till subsidence of vomition. While recovering, dog should be offered with bland diet containing rice, cottage cheese or commercially available prescription diet with gradual inclusion of normal diet should be given based on the speed of recovery.

Preventing Canine Parvovirus infection in your dogs

Premises of dogs should be kept clean with disinfectants like household bleach (1:30 dilution), formalin, gluteraldehyde, etc. Canine Parvovirus infection of dogs can be prevented totally by vaccinating your dog against CPV-2 infection at right time. But sometimes maternal antibodies which provide passive protection against CPV-2 infection may interfere with development of post vaccination immunity. The exact time of disappearance of maternal antibodies from pup is not known. So, vaccination of pups should be started at age of 6-8 weeks and continued at interval of four weeks till 14-16 weeks of age. This will help in inducing very good level of active immunity in pups against CPV-2 infection. Thereafter every year annual booster vaccination should be given.

Until your pups attend the age of 16 weeks with history of complete vaccination against CPV-2, care should be taken to prevent contact with feces of other puppies or dogs if you are taking your dogs for walk in parks and gardens. Modified live virus vaccines are most commonly available in the market for CPV-2 infections. The vaccines available in India for Parvovirus infection include single vaccines like Duramune KF-II, Megavac-P (both live and inactivated vaccine), Nobivac-Parvo-C, Parvocin, Vanguard-CPV and combined vaccines like Megavac-6, Nobivac-DHPPi, Nobivac-DH-LR, etc.

Although CPV-2 is one of serious infections of dog’s especially young pups, it can be prevented by maintaining proper hygiene and vaccinating pups at right age.

The authors are PhD scholars at Division of Medicine, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Izatnagar, Bareilly, UP.

Puppy health woes: prevention is better than cure

Pooch babies are prone to diseases, infections or defects, which can prove fatal. Responsible pet parenting calls for regular care and observation, which can go a long way in preventing diseases in our puppies. Here are a few common puppy health diseases, which can be easily averted by expanding our awareness aura…to make our cute little angels healthy and happy.

Neonatal anoxia and HypoxiaNewborn pup will either have fast breathing, fast heart rate or very shallow breathing. Compression of umbilical cord during passage through the birth canal causes physiological hypoxia (rise in carbon dioxide).Causes: False swallowing of amniotic fluid by the puppy especially when mother does not clean the puppy properly. It can also occur due to prolonged anaesthesia, posterior presentation of pup, injection of oxytocin at the premature stage of fetus, umbilical cord knotting and premature birth.Prevention: By cleaning the laryngeal junction using bulb syringe, vigorous rubbing of thorax, and stimulating the respiration.Treatment: Through respiratory stimulants by placing the pup in an incubator and inducing oxygen.

Haemolytic Syndrome

Puppy Health Symptoms: Its signs appear within 24-48 hrs of birth, which include weakness in some puppies from the same litter. Prevention: Further breeding of mothers of effected puppies should be avoided, irrespective of male dogs blood group.

Puppy Health Treatment: Keeping diseased puppies away from the mother. The affected puppies are kept in an incubator under medical supervision.

Water puppy syndrome (WPS)

Symptoms: Affected puppies weigh up to twice their expected weight, which results in stillbirths.

Causes: A foetus in a uterine horn fi lled with a large amount of hemorrhagic fl uid, or the after effects of a virus, the mother got during pregnancy.

Prevention: Vaccination in case of suspicion of the virus and avoiding repeated cross breeding which has already resulted in affected litters.

Treatment: No treatment, they usually die within 36 hours.

Toxic Milk Syndrome

This is an infection or bacterial poisoning of one or more puppies during feeding and the puppies affected by it whine continuously, have purplish ‘caulifl ower anus’ whereas the mother shows signs of vaginitis and painful teats. This leads to diarrhoea and enteritis in puppies and they pass straw yellow coloured faeces with a sour odour.

Causes: Haematogenous infection of milk by acute bacterial infection. Prevention: Not breeding the female dogs with recurrent mastitis.

Treatment: By reducing suckling (separate mother and litter every 3 hours), premature drying-off of the mother and artificial feeding of puppies and antibiotic treatment to the mother.

Neonatal Septicaemia

Affected pup shows the signs of isolation, apathy, and continuous whining.

Causes: Immuno-suppression (viral infection, absence of colostrums), umbilical infection, and toxic milk syndrome. Predisposing factors are maternal infections (mastitis, buccodental infections, pyoderma, metritis) and infections, which pass up the umbilicus originating from the bedding.

Prevention: By controlling nursing hygiene, disinfection of umbilical cord, bottle-feeding and separation of puppies from mother in case of maternal infection.

Treatment: Symptomatic treatment of puppies in septic shock apart from broadspectrum antibiotic therapy.

Fading Puppy Syndrome (FPS)

FPS leads to premature death before 2 weeks of age. The pup shows signs of asymptomatic disease at birth, with gradual fading away within 4-5 days.

Causes: Attributed to various causes like toxic milk syndrome, distemper, immune immaturity, etc.

Prevention: By managing the risk factors in the whelping areas, monitoring the colostrums ingestion and daily body weight gain.

Treatment: By gradual warming of hypothermic puppies (avoid infrared lamps which tend to worsen dehydration), placing affected puppies in an incubator at a temperature adjusted to 30 degrees C.

Swimming Puppy Syndrome (SPS)

SPS causes malfunctioning of motor development causing splayed fore limbs or hind limbs or tortoise like posture. Either signs are present at birth, or become obvious at about the second or third week of age, when puppies learn how to walk.

Causes: Nutritional defi ciency in mother’s food and environmental factors like slippery fl oor and over crowding. It occurs mostly in small breeds like Dachshund, Yorkshire, English Cocker Spaniel, or breeds with large thorax and short limbs like Pekingese, Cavalier King Charles, Basset Hound, French and English Bulldogs.

Treatment: By physiotherapy for 10 minutes for 4-5 times a day. Almost 90% puppies recover from this condition. Place the puppies on rough floor and stimulate the paws pads with toothbrush. Your vet might advise Vit- E and Selenium in the mother’s diet as well.

Parvo virus infection

This is one of the most common fatal infections seen in puppies in India. Symptoms: Infected pup fi rst goes off the food and become dull and starts vomiting lead to dehydration and blood stained diarrhoea and if not treated at the right time they die. This infection spreads like a infectious wave through infected stool, saliva, urine to the other puppies.

Prevention: Go through a ‘witness parvo test’ for quick diagnosis of parvo virus in the unvaccinated pup.

(Dr. R. T. Sharma is a renowned veterinary surgeon and president of PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society). He is also associated with RSPCA, London and Animal Welfare Board of India.

– by Dr. R. T. Sharma