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)

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

GID: causes, treatment and prevention

GID is a common disease in dogs. But such problems can be avoided if you vaccinate your pet regularly. Dr. Hitesh Swali gives tips to take care your pet’s health.

Gastrointestinal diseases (GID) often occur in puppies till 6 months of age, although adults can also be affected to a variable percentage. The common symptoms of GID include frequent diarrhoea and vomiting.

It is utmost important to reach the underlying cause for the disease, some of which include:

  • Viral Bacterial
  • Parasitic
  • Diet
  • Environmental


Viral Gastroenteritis is the most commonly occurring disease in puppies till 3 months. Of this, Canine Parvo Virus (CPV) and Canine Corona Virus (CCV) are mostly prevalent in puppies. Clinical signs include blood diarrhoea, vomiting, high temperature (103-105oF) and dehydration. This disease lasts for 3-5 days and requires extensive treatment. Treatment?:?Main aim in treating Viral Gastroenteritis is fluid therapy. Dogs suffering from this disease should be fed with lots of clean water. Fluid therapy should be done i/v or s/c to check dehydration. Puppies should be kept in isolation to prevent the disease spreading to other pups. Avoid giving food till diarrhoea and vomiting comes in control. Pups can be given ORS solution to check dehydration. Orally Metronidazole and broad spectrum antibiotics can be given along with anti-emetics such as Metaclopromide according to body weight till your vet can start his treatment.

Prevention?:?CPV and CCV can be prevented by regularly vaccinating the pups. Modified live virus and freeze dried vaccines such as Vanguard-5L, NOBIVAC DHPPiL available in the market should be administered to pups at 6-8 weeks of age after proper deworming has been done. Repeat booster vaccines every 21 days till 3 months of age and thereby annually.

Both male and female dogs should be vaccinated to help pass the passive immunity to the offsprings.


Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Campylobacter are the common bacteria responsible for the diseases in dogs. Characteristic symptoms include vomiting, dysentery with lot of strain during passing stools. Fever is usually mild or absent. This usually happens during travelling or if there is a change in climatic conditions or for puppies who have been exposed to bore well water or have had sea water during picnics. Treatment?:?Usually dogs do respond very well to broad spectrum antibiotics and anti-diarrhoeal. Checking dehydration level is must. Examination of faeces should be done to rule out parasitic involvement.

Prevention?:?Preventing pups from drinking stagnated water is the best way. Pups like to drink water directly from the bathroom which should also be avoided. Carry home water along with you while travelling and during dog shows.

Internal parasites:

The most common round worm is a potential health hazard to humans, you must ensure that the dog is routinely dewormed as they can also act as an intermediate host to certain tape worms, that can pass to humans. In addition to round worms and tape worms, dogs can become infested with more serious intestinal hook worms and whip worms or by microscopic parasites that cause diarrhoea. Treatment?:?Regular deworming for puppies every month till 6 months of age and thereby every 2 months using broad spectrum dewormers such as Drontal plus @1 tablet per 10 kg body weight. Deworming should be done to breeding dogs prior to mating.

Prevention: Regular deworming and examination of stools should be done by the vet at regular intervals. Avoid feeding table scraps and half-cooked meat to pups.


Diet plays an important role in the growth of the pup. Any change in diet can lead to lot of Gastroenteritis disorders. Avoid feeding pure milk to puppies. Orphan pups/recovering dogs from chronic diseases should be fed commercially available prescription diet for intestinal disease (for pups Royal Canin-V diet is prescribed).


Dogs and pups are very sensitive to any change in the climate. Owners should take care of pups during summer season and they should give them lots of clean water as summer diarrhoea is very common. Monsoon are the major worry for Bacillary Dysentery/Amoebiosis and Viral Gastroenteritis. Exotic breeds such as St. Bernard, Mastiffs and other giant breeds have lots of problem during summer. If you do spot any of the above symptoms, do contact your veterinarian immediately. Breeds such as Pugs, French Bull dogs, English Bull dogs undergo lot of stress during summers leading to summer diarrhoea and respiratory problems.

(Dr. Hitesh Swali, B.V.Sc & A.H. (Bom) is a veterinary physician and surgeon at Veterinary Dispensary & Antirabic Centre, Mumbai. He can be contacted at 9821120058 or 9821237566.)