Dog diseases caused by virus

Dog diseases caused by virus

What is a virus?

A virus is a sub-microscopic particle that ranges from 20 to 300 nanometres in size. It can infect the cells of a biological organism, such as a human or a dog, and cause anything from mild discomfort to serious, lethal disease. Viruses need to infect a host cell in order to multiply and can therefore not replicate without a suitable host.

Viruses causing dog disease

A lot of well known dog diseases are caused by viruses, such as canine distemper, canine parvovirus disease, canine coronavirus disease, canine influenza, canine herpesvirus, canine minute virus, infectious canine hepatitis, kennel cough (can also be caused by bacteria), rabies, and pseudorabies. As you can see; virus diseases in dogs stretches from milder cases of kennel cough to diseases with an exceptionally high death rate like rabies and canine distemper.   

Virus and antibiotics

Many different dog diseases are caused by viruses, and unfortunately antibiotics will not help if your dog gets infected with a virus. Some people – including dog owners – have a strong tendency to retort to antibiotics as soon as they feel ill, and irresponsible doctors and veterinarians sometimes let them have their way. If your dog comes down with a virus, demanding antibiotics is a bad idea for several reasons:

  1. Antibiotics will not cure or milder dog diseases caused by viruses.
  2. Antibiotics can cause side-effects. Now your dog has to combat a viral infection and antibiotics side effects simultaneously.
  3. Over-use of antibiotics increases the risk of antibiotic resistance development in bacteria. The more antibiotics we use, the greater the risk of cultivating bacteria that will be immune or highly resilient to antibiotics.

There are however situations where the initial viral infection opens up the way for bacteria. A common Kennel cough (similar to a human cold) can for instance lead to pneumonia in dogs, just like a cold can develop into pneumonia in humans. If this happens, antibiotics should naturally be administered since the secondary infection is caused by bacteria and not by a virus.

Virus vaccination for dogs

The best way of keeping your dog healthy is to vaccinate it against common viruses. A vaccine will produce immunity and make it possible for the immune system of your dog to successfully combat the virus from day one. The exact length of the immunity period varies; contact your veterinarian for more specific information. In many countries, vaccination of dogs is mandatory for serious diseases, such as rabies and canine distemper.

Anti-virus treatment for dogs

As mentioned above, giving your dog antibiotics will not help it if it has been infected with a virus. There are a few antiviral drugs available for dogs, but they are not a quick-fix for any type of virus. For some viruses an antiviral drug will work like a charm, but for many others there is still no cure. In many cases, the veterinarian will instead focus on helping your dog's immune system combat the virus. The veterinarian can for instance give your dog IV fluids to prevent dehydration, give it extra blood plasma from a donor, and keep the fever down if it starts to rise to dangerous levels. The vet can also make your dog feel better by giving it painkillers, cough medicine and so on, depending on the symptoms.

Virus infections in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine coronavirus in dogs
Canine distemper in dogs
Canine herpesvirus in dogs
Canine influenza in dogs
Canine minute virus in dogs
Canine parvovirus in dogs
Infectious canine hepatitis in dogs
Kennel cough in dogs
Pseudorabies in dogs
Rabies in dogs