Can dogs get AIDS

Infectious diseases in dogs and cats

Canine parvovirus

Canine (occurring in dogs) parvovirus is also called acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome (previously: acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis). This is possibly the most serious and common infectious disease in dogs, especially puppies. This disease is a big problem because due to the extreme resistance and infectiousness of the responsible canine parvovirus, it still breaks out regularly everywhere. The disease begins unexpectedly with vomiting and foul-smelling, bloody diarrhea, and leads to rapid dehydration and collapse. The heart can also be attacked by the virus. The death of the pet occurs very quickly, sometimes within 24 hours. The younger the affected pet, the more serious the disease. Some breeds such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, and Pinschers show extreme susceptibility to this virus. Upon contact with this virus, the disease has a high probability of a fatal outcome.

Pets are protected against numerous infectious diseases by antibodies, which are present in the breast milk (colostrum) that they receive in the first hours of life. This protection from maternal antibodies generally lasts for 2-3 months ... and that's why puppies become prone to parvovirus around 8 weeks of age. The virus is so resilient that even if the puppy is at home, the virus can get in and contaminate the house from outside (shoes, clothes, hands). There is almost no way to use total disinfection against this virus ... so it is very likely that the pet will become infected.

The best protection is vaccination. Parvovirus vaccines are safe and effective if they are not neutralized by the remaining maternal antibodies in breast milk. This is the reason why vaccination plans cannot be implemented immediately after birth. There are many different vaccines available for parvovirus, but their effectiveness can vary widely.

Canine infectious hepatitis

Canine (found in dogs) infectious hepatitis is a disease caused by an adenovirus that attacks the liver and other organs, such as the kidneys. In acute cases, pet death can occur within 24-36 hours. The dog initially loses appetite, then develops jaundice (yellowing of the mucous membranes) and towards the end a severe hemorrhagic (bleeding-related) fever. Those pets that do recover from the disease can become carriers and pass the virus through their urine for several months, potentially infecting other dogs.

Infected dogs and many wild carnivores such as foxes can spread the virus through the urine. This virus is very resilient in the environment and dogs can be infected simply by walking through an area of ​​contaminated urine.

Vaccination against canine adenovirus quickly provides extremely strong protection against canine hepatitis.

Canine distemper

Canine distemper is also called canine pulp. This disease is highly contagious and is often fatal. The various symptoms are shortness of breath, nasal and eye discharge, gastroenteritis (gastrointestinal inflammation) and nervous disorders. If pets survive the virus attack, they are often left with disabilities such as deformed teeth, nervous twitching, or a susceptibility to frightening epileptic seizures. Treatment is often unsuccessful because of the long incubation period - often around three weeks - and when the disease breaks out it is usually too late for vaccination.

Cases of distemper are more commonly reported in damp or cold weather (the dog can become infected through exposure to the distemper virus on the street as the virus can survive outdoors in such conditions). Furthermore, dogs can carry the virus and infect other dogs directly, regardless of the environmental conditions.

There is no way to treat the disease when it occurs, and if a dog recovers, sequelae will remain. The only good protection is prevention through vaccination.


Canine leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria called Leptospira in contaminated water. There are different bacterial strains of Leptospira, which are pathogenic in dogs, and some cause more serious illnesses than others. The main symptoms appear 3 to 5 days after infection. At first it looks like a fever syndrome with loss of appetite and depression and after that it becomes painful and the dog is reluctant to move. In the most severe cases, the dog dies of hemorrhagic syndrome and kidney failure after a few days. The diagnosis is difficult.

Most Leptospira are excreted by rodents and dogs when they urinate. The bacteria pass through the dog's skin while walking around in rat urine contaminated water.

Vaccination can be against the most disease-causing strains of Leptospira protect in dogs. However, there is no vaccine that can protect against all strains. The criterion for choosing a good vaccine is not only to prevent the clinical signs in the dog, but also to show the decrease in mortality and the avoidance of excretion of the bacteria in the dog's urine. Few long-lasting immunity vaccines exist against these disease-causing strains, and even fewer are able to prevent the asymptomatic excretion of the bacteria.


Rabies is a zoonotic (animal-to-human and human-to-animal transmissible) viral disease that occurs in humans, as well as domesticated and wild mammals. The virus causes neurological disorders that are accompanied by changes in behavior. Often times, a normally calm dog will get angry and extremely aggressive, trying to bite any other animal or people close to it. Rabies always causes various changes in behavior from angry behavior to paralysis. Once the symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans.

The virus is transmitted to other animals and humans through close contact with the infected animal's saliva (i.e., through bites, scratches, licking injured skin and mucous membranes). In Europe, foxes play a key role in the transmission of rabies to dogs, and every year people (mostly children) die after being bitten by a rabid dog. Bats are also responsible for transmitting rabies and can infect dogs even when they are at home.

A rabies vaccination is the most effective way to prevent rabies. The recommended vaccination protocol may differ depending on national legislation, but it starts with 1 injection at the age of 3 months.

Kennel cough

Kennel cough is bronchitis characterized by a harsh, dry cough that most often sounds like "something stuck in my dog's throat." It is similar to bronchitis in humans and can develop into a serious illness under special circumstances (see below); generally it goes away on its own.

Kennel cough occurs when the lining of the airways has been attacked. Environmental influences can attack these mucous membranes:

  • Transport stress
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Stress in the crowd
  • cold temperatures
  • Exposure to heavy dust
  • poor ventilation.

When the dog comes into contact with infected dogs, contagious viruses can easily be transmitted and then attack these mucous membranes:

  • These viruses are distemper virus, infectious laryngotracheitis virus, and canine parainfluenza virus. More less common ones may also be involved. (for example the canine herpes virus)
  • In some cases, a bacteria such as Bordetella Bronchiseptica can make the infection worse.

First and foremost, prevention consists in avoiding exposure to aggressive environmental conditions. Furthermore, a vaccination against the most important viruses involved builds up a strong barrier against kennel cough. Such vaccination should be given to all dogs.


Canine piroplasmosis (also called canine babesiosis) is caused by a blood parasite called babesia. It is transmitted by ticks a few days after the tick attaches to the dog's skin. This disease is widespread across Europe and has been moving northwards for a number of years, possibly related to climate change.

Incubation generally lasts 3 to 5 days, after which acute fever, general weakness, and loss of appetite are the first signs observed, and after that the dogs excrete dark brown urine. The disease causes liver and kidney failure and can be fatal within a few days. Sometimes the parasite wakes up after an incubation period of several months and the disease can break out even if no tick has been noticed in the past few weeks.

Vaccination and checking for tick infestation are ways to prevent canine piroplasmosis.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is also called borreliosis. This disease affects both dogs and people and is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia. This bacteria is transmitted by Ixodes ticks that are native to the forest. Although difficult to diagnose, common cases are reported across Europe. The first symptoms are not characteristic: mild fever, loss of appetite, lameness. After that, more serious symptoms such as arthritis (inflammation of the joints), heart failure, or neurological disorders may appear.

Treatment is carried out with long-term antibiotics. Prevention is possible through annual vaccinations and Ixodes control using parasite control.

Canine herpes virus

Canine (found in dogs) herpesvirus is caused by a virus that is specific to dogs. It is transmitted through genital or oronasal (snout) contact between dogs. If the disease breaks out during pregnancy, it affects the embryo or fetus and causes an abortion (miscarriage). When the virus is passed on to newborn puppies, it causes mortality in the first two weeks of life. This disease is often asymptomatic in adult dogs, and canine herpes virus is sometimes implicated in kennel cough syndrome.

Vaccination of the mother may be suggested for passive protection in puppies.

Panleukopenia (cat disease)

Typhoid is a highly contagious viral disease that is often fatal. Kitties are especially vulnerable. With this disease, the cat first gets a high fever, then diarrhea and finally immunosuppression (suppression of an immune reaction). At times it can cause neurological damage. The virus responsible for typhoid is a parvovirus that is extremely resilient in the environment. Therefore, it is entirely possible that a cat owner could carry the virus home in their shoes after walking through a contaminated area (places with unvaccinated cats).

Infectious upper respiratory syndrome

This is a syndrome caused by various viruses and bacteria that act alone or in interaction with each other. The main viruses involved are the feline (found in cats) herpes virus and the feline caliciviruses. Feline herpes virus causes a high fever and severe oculonasal (eyes and nose) infection with localized inflammation and discharge, which can lead to secondary infections. The cat never fully recovers from it, and when the clinical signs disappear, the virus remains latent (dormant) in the nervous system. The recovered cat becomes a latent carrier and relapses are likely in stressful situations.

This is why regular vaccination of every cat is recommended throughout their life to minimize the risk of the herpes virus recurring, even if the cat is not in contact with other cats. In connection with the feline calicivirus one should speak of feline caliciviruses, since numerous variants of this virus exist which can infect various organs including the upper respiratory tract and food tract. Some strains of calicivirus are considered "hypervirulent" (highly contagious) and can cause a fatal infection within a few days.

Vaccination against feline calicivirus is strongly recommended, but there are a few mutants (variants) that may escape vaccination protection.

Chlamydia is also a part of the substances involved in upper respiratory syndrome. Chlamydia (or Chlamydophila) is a bacterium that is responsible for severe conjunctivitis, especially in young cats and in boarding houses. Infected cats can be treated with antibiotics given topically or orally for several weeks. Such an option is delicate and does not preclude the wearing of residual bacteria.

Feline leukemia

This disease should not be confused with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) or "feline AIDS," although it is caused by a retrovirus closely related to FIV. The infection can cause tumors and immunosuppression (suppression of an immune reaction). The cat can become infected through direct contact with a cat that has the virus and is likely to shed the virus. After infection, there is a chance that she may remain seropositive (that is, antibodies to a specific antigen have been found in her for months or years) before symptoms appear (weight loss, fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, etc.). Treatment is not available.

Vaccination against leukemia provides a good level of protection for FeLV negative cats and must be recommended for any cat who may come into contact with other cats with unknown FeLV status.