STDs, in this case SOCIALLY transmitted disease(s), is a very real, and often dangerous, risk for dogs that are exposed to the social world of dog parks, dog day care, interaction between just-met compadres, dog shows (even as a spectator), boarding kennels, or generally out and about.
In no particular order let’s cover some of the worst diseases:
1) “Oregon Fungus” — A new extra virulent strain of airborne fungus, Cryptococcus gattii, is evolving and adapting to local environments. It has infected many kinds of animals, from porpoises, to elk, to dogs, to humans. It is known to spread through the air, but researchers have been unable to track it outside the body of the infected animal. It is serious, but treatable. However, vets may misdiagnosis the fungus for its “sibling species C. neoformans” as it’s so new.
2) Therapy Dogs Spreading Superbugs — “Superbugs” are infectious organisms that make patients sick, and may even cause death because it’s very difficult to kill them with existing drugs. A study of canines used for pet therapy, who were kissed and handled by, or on the beds of patients, determined the presence of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) or C. Difficile (Clostridium difficile) being carried by the dogs on their fur and paws from patient to patient and out into the world. MRSA was also discovered on the dog’s handler. “The concern is that other bacteria, such as influence and Norovirus might also be spread by therapy dogs.” (Journal of Hospital Infection, doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2009.02.019)
3) Sleeping With Your Dog — “”the risk for transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners through bed sharing, kissing or licking is real and has even been documented for life-threatening infections such as plague, internal parasites” and other serious diseases.” Yep, we’re talking the Black Death, the Plague. Along with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), meningitis, infection, salmonella, to name just a few. Make a bed for your dog on the floor and let him sleep there, he’ll be in the room with you and that is enough.
4) Canine Influenza — Unlike the ‘seasonal’ human variety, it can strike you dog any time of the year. First identified in 2003, it mutated from an equine flu virus and has spread across the U.S. It’s easy to catch, sneezing is an indicator of the possibility of the flu. The number of canine flu cases have risen dramatically. There is a vaccination for it, but it may not be applicable to all dogs.
5) Human Influenza — yep, you CAN give it to your dog. If you have the flu, stay away from Fido.
6) Canine Infectious (Viral) Hepatitis — Usually affecting pups and dogs up to 1 year in age, this is a highly contagious disease spread via urine, feces, saliva, or contaminated objects. There may be no symptoms shown by the dog. There is a vaccination available.
7) Canine Cough (Kennel Cough) — Easily spread by a bacteria from dog to dog your dog will need antibiotics and lots of rest. A Bordetella vaccine is available.
8 Coronavirus — No, we are not referring to drinking too much beer. It’s normally a relatively mild disease, however, your dog may not think so when infected and ill. It’s contracted when your pet comes into contact with the feces or other excretions of an infected dog. There is a vaccination available.
9) Distemper — Yes, there’s a vaccination for it, but it can live on clothing for up to several hours on hands, feet, and objects. You can be a carrier and not know it, putting pups or dogs with immune system issues at grave risk. Dogs surviving it may continue to shed the virus for up to 4 months. It’s EVERYWHERE.
10) The Big 3 — Leptospirosis “…documenting the re-emergence of the dangerous bacterium Leptospira, which can spread from dogs to humans and can cause kidney disease in both…CDC says disease trackers are noting increasing incidences among urban children…this strain, cropping up across North America, seems adapted particularly to dogs, which show symptoms including lethargy, vomiting, acute kidney failure and can lead to death…the bacteria can be transferred to people through pets or from swimming in infected water, camping or other outdoor activities…(it) is very much associated with raccoons. Leptospira was once a rural disease, but this strain has been found mainly in urban areas because raccoons are all around us…The bacterium lives in the kidneys of infected raccoons for their lives and spreads to dogs when raccoons urinate in water.” (Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/lifestyle/health/article/Dog-disease-can-be-passed-to-humans-vets-warn-1169743.php#ixzz1dPNTTIfK)
*** Rabies, Parvovirus. Get your dogs vaccinated.