Dog diseases spreading: How to keep your pet safe

POINT PLACE, OH (WTOL) - Not one, but two potentially deadly diseases for dogs could be spreading in our area.

It's something that can get away from us, remembering to take your dog to the vet.

Parvovirus is a disease that affects your dog's GI tract.

There has been a recent outbreak of the illness in the midwest, and experts worry it may hit our area.

"Dogs will fraternize with each other at doggy day cares, veterinary offices, other places, dog parks, and so if there are more dogs that are not vaccinated against parvo, and bring parvo to the area, other dogs that may not have had an issue and are not vaccinated now have an issue because there's more parvo going around," said Dr. Amanda Duggan, veterinarian at Shoreland Animal Hospital.

Parvo is very serious and can be fatal.

It is a highly contagious airborne illness your dog can contract by just sniffing, something they likely do a lot of.

It also attacks the white blood cells, so it can lower your dog's immune system, making them more susceptible to other diseases as well.

The good news is, if properly vaccinated, parvovirus is completely preventable.

"As soon as you have a puppy, about six to eight weeks we can start vaccinating them. Some vaccines can actually go earlier than that, and if you have an adult dog, continue to get that booster, it's an every three year vaccine," said Duggan.

The parvo vaccine is actually a part of a round of vaccines given all in one shot, including other things your dog needs like distemper and hepatitis.

If your dog is not vaccinated, keep them quarantined and away from other dogs, dog d roppings, and people who have interacted with other dogs until you can get them treated.

Dog flu that plagued our area last fall is also making a resurgence in our area.

Right now, Ottawa County, Michigan is seeing an uptick in cases.

Experts say that there are several ways your dog can be exposed to the virus including sniffing or licking dogs who have the virus, by sharing water or food bowls with infected dogs, or by being around sick dogs who are coughing or sneezing.

Dr. Duggan said that they take these cases seriously,

"Usually we'll do those exams outside if possible to prevent any contamination of the rooms inside. One of the most common things we want to make sure is not happening is that we have influenza that progresses to pneumonia," she said.

It is important to note that unlike the human flu, this is only a respiratory disease, not a stomach bug.

Symptoms include lethargic behavior, fever, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, and coughing.

Most cases are mild and dogs recover in a few weeks' time, but that is not always the case and they can become worse.

If you think your dog has symptoms of either of these sicknesses, contact a vet right away.

Humans cannot contract either parvovirus or canine influenza, but cats can potentially get certain strains of parvo from dogs.

Copyright 2018 WTOL. All rights reserved.