How to Spot if Your Dog is Infected with a Virus

Learn about the common signs of a viral infection in dogs and what you can do to prevent the spread of these illnesses.

How to Spot if Your Dog is Infected with a Virus

As a veterinarian, I have seen many cases of dogs being infected with viruses. These viruses can take many forms and have a variety of symptoms. It is important for dog owners to be aware of these symptoms so they can take the necessary steps to protect their furry friends. In this article, I will discuss the common signs of a viral infection in dogs and what you can do to prevent the spread of these illnesses.

Signs of a Viral Infection

If your dog is showing any of the following symptoms, it could be an indication that they have a virus:
  • Rash: A peculiar rash on your dog's body could be a sign of a viral infection. It is important to pay attention to any changes in your dog's skin.
  • Diarrhea or Vomiting: If your dog is experiencing persistent diarrhea or vomiting, it could be a sign of a viral infection. These symptoms can also lead to dehydration, so it is important to seek veterinary care if they persist.
  • Irritability, Aggression, and Antisocial Behavior: Dogs who are usually friendly and social may become irritable, aggressive, and antisocial when they are sick. This change in behavior could be a sign of a viral infection.
  • Lack of Appetite and Weight Loss: A loss of appetite and significant weight loss can also be indicators of a viral infection in dogs.

    If your dog is not eating or losing weight rapidly, it is important to seek veterinary care.

Ears Can Also Be Affected

In addition to the above symptoms, dogs can also develop ear infections as a result of a viral infection. This is especially common in dogs who suffer from allergies or swim regularly. Signs of an ear infection include an increase in waxy or pus-like secretions with an unpleasant smell. Your dog may also scratch their ear or shake their head due to irritation.

The inner ear flap and opening of the ear canal may appear red or swollen. Ear infections can be very painful for dogs, and they may even scream when the affected area is touched.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV)

One of the most common viral infections in dogs is canine parvovirus (CPV). This highly contagious disease usually affects puppies between six and 20 weeks old, but it can also affect older dogs.

A rare variant of CPV can be seen in newborn puppies and can cause inflammation of the heart muscle. If your home or yard has been contaminated by an infected dog, there are steps you can take to disinfect the area before introducing a new dog or puppy. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends washing your hands thoroughly after touching any dog, as the cause of this respiratory illness is still unknown. While it is unlikely for humans to contract this illness, it is better to take precautions.

The Severity of CPV

Unfortunately, due to the lack of tracking in most states, it is not known exactly how many dogs have died from CPV. Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the illness, but there are certain aspects that are considered vital for all patients. As a veterinarian, I have seen many cases where dogs have developed chronic upper respiratory tract infections that later lead to pneumonia due to a secondary bacterial infection. This is why it is important to keep your dog out of situations where they may be exposed to viruses, especially during the holidays.

In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of outbreaks of a fatal respiratory illness in dogs in animal shelters across the United States. CPV is believed to have arisen from 2 or 3 genetic mutations in the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), which allowed it to expand its host range to infect dogs. The fecal PCR test for CPV can detect small fragments of viral DNA that are specific to this virus in the feces of an infected dog. The San Diego Humane Society reported losing four dogs to a serious respiratory illness in November.

While it may take time to rule out other known causes, this does not mean that CPV should not be taken seriously. Vaccinating your dog is not an option, but rather an obligation as a responsible pet owner. If your dog is showing signs of illness, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Early testing can help with treatment and prevent the spread of the disease to other dogs.

Paul Geary
Paul Geary

Avid dog owner and trainer. As a Healthcare provider I am here to share my knowledge of health issues for pets and dogs, in particular

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