If you’re like me, you do not consider dog shows somewhere your dogs can get deathly ill. I expect all show dogs to be fully vaccinated before attending a show. Well, let’s be honest, we have all heard the 3 month old Vizsla owner saying “I’m getting her used to the show atmosphere”. Little does this owner know about the many viruses and diseases her precious baby can take home. Aside from the external and internal parasites (i.e fleas, tapeworms, etc.), our babies can catch a list of other diseases! This article was written to educate owners on a few of the more popular contagious illnesses.

Bordetella: Many kennels or facilities that have a large traffic of dogs have dealt with kennel cough. It is that annoying dry cough our dogs can catch from being boarded  and exposed to a lot of other dogs, or simply going to a show. Unfortunately, it can take 3-5 days to produce any symptoms. Many cases are easily treated with proper antibiotics. By the time one dog gets over it, the cough spreads to the others. Luckily, with proper treatment and sanitizing routines, you can control it. The bordetella vaccine can protect your pet from many forms of kennel cough. I administer only the intranasal to my dogs because it takes 2 days to build immunity as oppose to the 42 days the injectable version takes!

Canine Parvovirus: We are all aware of the very contagious parvovirus that is caught by an unvaccinated dog coming into contact with contaminated feces. The symptoms include anorexia, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and lethargy. A dog can show symptoms as late as 3-5 days after begin exposed to the virus. Since the 60’s, parvo has mutated 3 times. In 2008, a new strain, known as the CPV2c, was discovered. It is believed that the current DHPP vaccine protects against even the most recent strain. The best way to protect your puppies, is to vaccinate once between 6-8 weeks old, booster between 9-12 weeks, again between 13-15 weeks, and finally between 16-18 weeks. The most important vaccine is the last. The puppy must be at least 16 weeks old to be protected for 1 year. Diagnostic tests include a swab of the anus and a Snap test that shows results within 10 minutes.

Canine Distemper: This multi-systemic viral disease can be transmitted through contact with eliminations (feces and urine) and mucoid secretions (nasal discharge, saliva, etc.). The disease attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and on occasion, nervous systems within 9 days of being infected. Most cases are treated by clinical signs and lymphopenia (very low white blood cells). Unfortunately, specific diagnostic testing may take weeks to complete, by which time the disease has taken the dog’s life, or the dog has recovered. Properly vaccinated puppies are completely protected from this disease.  Parvo and Distemper titers have proven that if properly vaccinated, a dog can be protected 3-5  years between vaccines.

Parainfluenza Virus: This airborne respiratory virus can be easily transmitted from dog to dog. It’s symptoms include, coughing, hacking, and sometimes fever, which may take up to 7 days to appear. Parainfluenza is commonly mistaken for the less serious kennel cough. Pneumonia resulting from parainfluenza is not uncommon if not treated properly.  Like many other respiratory viruses, the best diagnostic test is a swab of the throat. The test can take up to a week to return, but treatment of proper antibiotics should be started immediately in attempts to control it. The best way to protect your pet, is to use an intranasal bordetella vaccine with parainfluenza protection.

Canine Influenza: Also known as H3N8, the dog flu is a relatively new virus being identified in January 2004 during an outbreak in racing greyhounds. Like the parainfluenza, the flu can appear to be a dry cough. This cough can persist for 10 to 21 days despite therapy. Other symptoms can include nasal discharge and low grade fever. More severe cases involve pneumonia, including a high fever and increased respiratory rate and effort. Diagnostic testing include throat swabs and, again, may take a week for results. Dogs that are suspected to have the flu should begin treatment and quarantined. As of 2009, Merck Animal Health created Nobivac; the Canine Flu vaccine.  This vaccine is not considered a “core vaccine” and duration for protection has not yet been well defined.

Canine Adenovirus 1 and 2: These two versions are rare and with proper vaccination can be prevented. Type 1 causes hepatitis. It affects the liver sometimes causing it to hemorrhage. An infected dog will shed the virus through it’s eliminations. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, abdominal pain, anorexia, and vomiting.

Type 2 is related to the hepatitis virus and causes kennel cough. This type spread through bodily fluids and is airborne. Vaccinating against both types protects your pet from CAV.

Parasites: There are many great products to control, kill and even repel fleas. Some are non-pesticidal and others are simply flea sterilizers. We have always used the product Sentinel (with the exception of the several months it was taken off the market). This monthly pill prevents heart worm disease, purges the intestines of roundworms and hookworms AND sterilizes fleas resulting in a control of fleas. Currently, there are many products that combine the convenience of flea control with heart worm preventative. It is a “Do-All” pill given once a month. Because Saint Bernards are giant breeds, it is easy to disregard heart worm or flea preventative. The truth is, that if you ever have an infected dog, it is detrimental to your kennel or even fatal. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. Meaning, a couple of fleas can become an infestation very quickly. When ingested, these fleas and larvae will become tapeworms in the body. Along with tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are fairly common in any dog.

Keeping your kennel wormed with a broad spectrum dewormer (which is found in many of heart worm preventatives), can save time and money for treatment. On a side note, there is only one heart worm preventative product on the market that offers Drontal (the only tapeworm purging drug). Iverhart Max does contain the proper dose of Drontal to rid your pet of tapeworms every month. Heart worm disease is fatal and is caused by a simple mosquito bite. An infected mosquito can cause worms to grow in a dog’s heart and their larvae to live in their blood, resulting in congestive heart failure and death. There are even products that are sold in bulk to do the minimum of protecting your dogs from heart worms. Invest in a good product- it could be a life saver.

Properly sanitizing your kennel and home is crucial for the management, control, prevention and treatment. Like many veterinary clinics, I use Rocal D Plus. I dilute it by following the instructions on the bottle, put it in a spray bottle, spray kennels, crates, grooming tables, floors, doors, handles, walls….anywhere your pets have been, let dry, rinse/wipe with a damp cloth/mop, and follow with diluted bleach (1:10). Always wear gloves while disinfecting your home/kennel and do this at least twice a month. Another great product is Trifectant; I do not use simply due to its odor.

The purpose of this article is not to frighten you from dog shows, but instead to explain the importance of vaccinating your pets. There are many beliefs that vaccines cause seizures, cancer, and so many other problems. This is not supported by research and should be considered false. Please vaccinate your dogs appropriately for the safety of other pets and our precious babies.

Recommended preventative care protocol:

7 weeks old– DHPP (Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvo/Parainfluenza), deworm, start heart worm preventive with a flea sterilizer (We love Sentinel) a few days after deworming.

10 weeks old– DHPP and deworm

12 weeks old– Heart worm preventative

13 weeks old– DHPP, Bordetella and H3N8

16 weeks old– DHPP, Bordetella and H3N8

Monthly preventative- Heart worm and flea control

Every 6 months– Deworm with Drontal if your heart worm preventative does not include it.

Annual vaccines- Bordetella and H3N8





To purchase Rocal D Plus, visit:


 Disclaimer: this article is not an attempt to replace proper veterinary advice. Always consult with your own vet regarding any parasite/vaccine protocol.

Flower Jacobs, Texas

December, 2013