There are a lot of diseases out there that can affect our pets. Hopefully you will never come across them as many, if not vaccinated against, can be fatal. Here is a list:
Canine parvovirus - Still widespread and often fatal. Causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. About 15,000 UK dogs are believed to have suffered from the disease in the last 12 months. The virus is spread in the faeces of infected dogs and survives outdoors for months or even years. Once contracted, there is no specific treatment; it can be effectively prevented through vaccination.
Leptospirosis - A bacterial disease that causes serious liver and kidney problems in humans as well as dogs (it's called Weill's Disease in humans). Spreads in the urine of infected animals, which can include rats; any animal excercised in or around ponds and watercourses is at risk. An estimated 4,000 cases are seen each year in the UK.
Distemper - Another potentially fatal disease, spread directly from dog to dog. Caused major epidemics in the 1960s and 1970s but has since been brought under control by vaccination. Causes respiratory problems, diarrhoea, vomiting, 'hard pad' and fits.
Hepatitis - This devastating disease may prove rapidly fatal. It affects the liver, and may also involve the kidneys, eyes and lungs of infected dogs. This virus is shed in the urine of infected dogs. Routine vaccination provices effective prevention against this disease.
Kennel Cough - A very common and highly contagious respiratory disease which typically results in an unpleasant hacking cough. The cough can persist for weeks, and can be life-threatening in puppies and vulnerable dogs. Spreads through coughing, sneezing and nose-to-nose contact wherever dogs meet and mix - not just in boarding kennels. Effective vaccines given as drops up the nose are available to prevent disease due to the most significant bugs responsible for this disease.
Cat flu - Cat flu still affects an estimated 160,000 cats and kittens each year in the UK. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge and sore eyes. The disease is caused by several different bugs, some of which can be spread by 'carrier animals' which show no outward signs. It can prove fatal especially in the vulnerable, and can lead to unpleasant long-term complications for affected cats. Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of disease.
Feline enteritis - Also known as feline panleucopaenia, this causes severe vomiting, loss of appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Sometimes the disease can progress so quickly that a cat may die before any signs are noticed. The virus survives outdoors for months or even years. Cats can also be infected with canine parvovirus. Vaccination of cats will offer protection against canine parvovirus and feline enteritis.
Feline leukaemia - Caused by a virus, feline leukaemia suppresses the cat's immune system and can cause cancer, anaemia and death. Spreads directly from the saliva of infected animals, to others it may meet and socialise with. Vaccination has proved effective in reducing this disease; a significant prevalence of infection in unvaccinated cats is reported.
Myxomatosis - The recent myxomatosis epidemic has been particularly marked with a devastating effect on pet rabbits and their wild cousins. Spread by fleas and other external parasites, it causes profound illness and disfiguring swellings around the eyes, face and genitalia. The disease frequently leads to death. Vaccination and parasite control are essential for prevention.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease - This is a viral disease of rabbits which usually proves rapidly fatal. Signs of the disease can be just sudden unexplained death or may include depression, collapse, difficulty in breathing, convulsions and bleeding from the nose. Rabbits can be vaccinated against this disease, although this vaccine is not included in the National Vaccination Month initiative. Please ask you veterinary surgeon for more details.
Equine Influenza - Flu in horses is a highly infectious viral disease which affects the respiratory tract including the windpipe and lungs. Widespread throughout the horse population, the virus is transmitted by direct horse-to-horse contact and indirect contact via contaminated people, tack, feed and equipment. Signs of 'flu include a dry, harsh cough, fever, nasal discharge and lethargy. Following a bout of 'flu, horses need complete rest for at least 6 weeks. Equine 'flu is not contagious to humans.
Equine Herpes Virus - Equine herpes virus is a very common viral disease which is just as contagious as 'flu. The virus can cause a severe loss of form and associated problems including abortion and paralysis and, like its human counterparts, the virus can recur time after time. The first signs are similar to those seen with 'flu and include fever, nasal discharge and coughing that can last for up to 3 weeks. Equine herpes virus is not contagious to humans. Vaccination against equine herpes virus is not available as part of National Vaccination Month
Strangles - Strangles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus equi. Horses become depressed, dull, develop a fever and nasal discharge and stop eating. The glands around the throat swell, forming abscesses. In some outbreaks and in up to ten percent of cases, these abscesses spread to other parts of the body (a condition known as 'bastard' strangles) which is nearly always fatal. Strangles is transmitted from horse-to horse and indirect contact via people, tack, feed and equipment. There is currently no vaccine available against strangles.
Tetanus - Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetanii which can be found in soil and horse droppings. Although most animals can be affected horses are particularly susceptible. The bacteria enter the body through wounds and punctures of the sole of the foot are common routes of infection. Horses will develop muscle stiffness resulting in a "rocking-horse" stance and "lock-jaw". Unfortunately this condition is usually fatal.
Many Catteries and Kennels will not accept your animal if it has not been vaccinated against the diseases mentioned above. Therefore the only alternative is to keep your pet at home and for a responsible, reliable and fully insured Pet Sitter to do the job for you. This may cost a little more than the kennels but your pet gets the security and familiarity of its home surroundings, its own routine and a new friend. Your home is also safeguarded against intruders as the property will not be left unoccupied for more than 3 consecutive hours during daylight or for 1 hour during the evening.