Common Dog Diseases in Arizona

Sick dog laying down on white background

It’s important for pooch parents to stay on top of dog health and be aware of dog health problems that are prevalent in their region. There are a number of common dog diseases in Arizona that have potentially devastating effects if preventative measures aren’t taken. All are treatable, though some are often fatal if not treated early, making it vital to know the signs and act as swiftly as possible.

Distemper

The prognosis for dogs who contract the distemper virus is so poor that euthanasia is recommended in most cases. The Navajo County Arizona1 website says that only 50 percent of adult dogs and as few as 20 percent of puppies who develop distemper don’t die. Even if the dog survives, his nervous system will be permanently damaged and he will likely experience paralysis and/or seizures for the rest of his life. Distemper is spread when dogs come in contact with urine, feces or other bodily secretions of infected animals. Additionally, because it is an airborne virus, even a dog who rarely goes outside or leaves his yard can become infected through an open door or window. Symptoms of distemper include:
• red eyes
• eye and nasal discharge
• vomiting
• diarrhea
• fever

The distemper vaccine is one of the basic vaccines vets give puppies so, although it is a vile disease, it’s one that’s easily prevented.

Parvovirus

Though the parvovirus is more treatable than distemper, it still poses a danger to dog health. According to the ASPCA2, the virus is passed on through contact with an infected dog’s feces. However, the virus can live on inanimate objects for months so, even if you hose down a surface, it still could harbor the disease. Bleach is the best disinfectant you can use to destroy the parvovirus. Symptoms of parvo in dogs are loss of appetite, lethargy, severe vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. If your dog shows signs of the virus, contact your vet immediately. He will need aggressive treatment to boost his immune system and alleviate the symptoms. Damage to the digestive and cardiovascular system in addition to the bone marrow, kidneys, liver, and immune system are among the long term effects of parvo.

Heartworm

A parasite rather than a disease, heartworm makes the list of common dog diseases in Arizona because of potential dog health problems it can cause. Spread by mosquitoes, heartworm larvae mature over a period of 6 months and can live and reproduce inside a dog for up to 7 years, according to the American Heartworm Society3. During that time heartworms cause severe damage to the lungs, heart, and other organs. Initially, there are no symptoms of heartworm but, the longer a dog is infected with the parasite, the more likely signs are to develop. Aversion to exercise, mild cough, activity-induced fatigue, lack of appetite and weight loss are initial symptoms you may notice. Annual blood tests can alert your vet to the presence of heartworms in your dog’s system. Treatment is available and dogs who are treated early have an excellent prognosis. Prevention is the best line of attack in areas where the parasite is prevalent. Heartworm medicine without prescription is not available, but your vet should be willing to provide one.

1 http://www.navajocountyaz.gov/Departments/Animal-Control/Vaccination-and-Diseases/Canine-Distemper
2 https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/parvovirus
3 https://www.vetinfo.com/the-long-term-effects-of-parvo-in-dogs.html
4 https://www.vfce.arizona.edu/ValleyFeverInPets/VFID-dodogs.aspx
5 https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics