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Infectious diseases of dogs   arrow

What is vaccination?

Vaccination is an essential preventive care for pets. Through vaccination, dogs can now be protected from numerous disease risks, including distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and others.

Below is the overview of the common infectious diseases that attack unvaccinated dogs.

Remember: All these diseases can be prevented through VACCINATION.

Parvovirus Infection

Parvovirus is a serious, deadly threat to the unvaccinated dogs. The virus is very stable in the environment and able to withstand wide pH ranges, light and temperature. Rottweilers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherd Dog appear to be at increased risk of disease. The virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected dogs. Indirect transmission, eg, by faecal-contaminated fomites, is also an important source of infection.

In most cases, parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and causes symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and lethargy. The severity of clinical signs may vary. Some dogs may recover within a few days with appropriate supportive care; others can die within hours of the onset of clinical signs.

Vaccination is critical in controlling the disease. The high-titer canine parvovirus vaccines (eg: Merial’s RECOMBITEK vaccine) can effectively protect puppies against viral challenge, even during the period when maternal antibody titers remain high enough to interfere with active immunization but have declined enough to predispose pups to infection. Three doses of vaccine are recommended at 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age (The vaccination schedule may vary with different type of vaccines and veterinarian’s recommendation).

Canine Distemper Virus

Canine distemper is a highly contagious, systemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastro-intestinal and nervous system of dogs. Canine distemper virus spreads through the aerosol droplets and through contact with infected body fluids including nasal and ocular secretions, faeces, and urine. Some infected dogs may shed virus for several months.

There is no specific treatment for canine distemper and the prognosis is grave. The best prevention against canine distemper is through vaccination. Although it is very rare, but modified-live canine distemper vaccines can produce post-vaccinal illness in some immuno-suppressed dogs. A recombinant canarypox vector vaccine expressing distemper virus protein is available. It does not contain the whole virus and without the potential risk of modified-live distemper vaccine.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis Virus

This disease is an acute liver infection in dogs caused by canine adenovirus type-1. The disease is spread through the faeces, urine, blood, saliva, and nasal discharge of infected dogs. The main target organs are liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. Chronic kidney lesions and corneal clouding (“blue eye”) result from immune-complex reactions after recovery from acute or subclinical disease. In recent years, the disease has become uncommon in areas where routine immunization is used.

Clinical signs vary from a slight fever to death. The mortality rate is highest in very young dogs.


Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. Humans and dogs become infected through contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from infected animals. In dogs, transmission most commonly occurs by drinking puddle, pond, or ditch water contaminated by urine from infected wildlife or rats. The liver and kidney are most commonly damaged by leptospirosis.

Canine coronavirus

Canine coronvirus is a highly contagious, rapidly spreading intestinal disease that is most severe in very young puppies, however dogs of any age, sex and breed are susceptible. Signs vary greatly. Most infections in adult dogs are inapparent. Pups, however, may develop severe and fatal enteritis (diarrhoea). Mortality rates from Canine Coronavirus infections are low. But, mortality in pups with concurrent infections (e.g., parvovirus with coronavirus) is exceptionally high.

Puppies and dogs under stress appear to be at greatest risk. Sporadic outbreaks have occurred in dogs attending shows and in kennels where introductions of new dogs are frequent. Crowding and unsanitary conditions appear to promote clinical illness.



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Prevention is better than cure!