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Canine Diseases and Inexpensive Prevention


The old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," might be better stated as, "A dollar's worth of prevention is worth ten dollar's worth of cure." Whichever way you state it, preventing disease is always better than treating it. The prevention of infectious disease hinges on three basic things: maintaining high levels of general health, limiting exposure to potential sources of infectious agents, and administering the proper vaccines in a proper and timely manner.

Vaccinating dogs and puppies should be the simplest component of your infectious disease control program; however, the careless way in which many people approach their vaccination program leaves much to be desired. This article will review the common infectious diseases which are commonly vaccinated against, and outline a basic vaccination program.


Parvo is caused by a virus that attacks the lining of the small intestine of all canines. Infection results in enteric disease characterized by sudden onset of vomiting and diarrhea, often with blood. Susceptibility cannot be avoided. Any puppy exposed to the virus during the susceptibility period will most likely come down with the disease, regardless of many vaccination schedules. The virus is spread by a fecal-oral route. This means that the virus is passed, by the billions, in the stool of an infected canine and then ingested by another canine. It can live in the environment for years and still be infectious, and can be spread on hands, boots, feed dishes, etc. A puppy should receive a booster every three (3) - four (4) weeks from six (6) weeks of age until at least sixteen (16) weeks of age. People often begin vaccinating before six weeks of age, but it is a widely accepted fact that interference from natural antibodies (the immune protection pups get from their dam) blocks the vaccine. Another common mistake is to vaccinate more frequently then every three weeks. The immune system can not respond to vaccines given more frequently than three week intervals, and a decreased immune response may even occur. All dogs should receive annual revaccination, and females should be boosted two (2) weeks prior to breeding.


Corona is caused by another species-specific virus which attacks the small intestinal lining. The symptoms of the disease include lethargy, anorexia, and depression. The sudden onset of vomiting occurs, in which blood can sometimes be found. Diarrhea is moderate to severe and is projectile. Feces is yellow-orange colored with blood and mucous occasionally found. In some kennels Coronavirus has been quite a severe problem. Most veterinarians consider this vaccine somewhat optional with the exception of certain kennels. I recommend Coronavirus vaccination at twelve (12) weeks with a booster at sixteen (16) weeks, and do not routinely revaccinate older dogs.


Canine Distemper is caused by a virus closely related to the human measle virus. It is considered the most serious viral disease of dogs in the world. Approximately 50% of nonvaccinated, nonimmunized dogs infected with CD virus develop clinical signs of the disease and approximately 90% of those dogs infected with CD die. All the bodily secretions of an infected animal contain the virus, it is highly contagious, and it is primarily spread by an airborne route. It's more frequent and acutely affects pups under 3 months of age. Early clinical signs include anorexia, diarrhea, and dehydration. As the disease progresses, fever, depression, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea may be observed accompanied by signs of respiratory distress. Coughing, labored breathing, inflammation of tissues around the eyes and nose, and mucopurulent oculonasal discharge may occur. If dogs recover from Distemper they often have lifelong complications. Like Parvo, Distemper vaccine should be administered every three (3) - four (4) weeks from six (6) to sixteen (16) weeks of age with annual boosters.


Lepto is an acute infectious disease that is characterized by depression, fever, and loss of appetite. The mucous membranes are usually deeply congested. Jaundice sometimes occurs indicating severe liver involvement. The kidneys can also be damaged, resulting in Uremia, vomiting, dehydration, Polyuria (excessive urination), and polydipsia (excessive thirst). It is a bacterial disease which seems to be having an upswing in varying locales across North America. The organism is shed in the urine of infected animals and is contagious by penetration of abraded skin or mucous membranes. All dogs should receive at least four vaccinations against Lepto as a puppy. Most commercially available Distemper/Parvovirus vaccines also include Lepto in their combinations.


Infectious Tracheobronchitis (ITB) is often inappropriately labeled "Kennel Cough" which is more of a syndrome rather than a distinct disease entity. Some of the more commonly involved organisms at work are CAV-2, Parainfluenza, and Bordetella Bronchiseptica. The syndrome is highly contagious and may cause a dry, retching couth that can lead to a severe Pneumonia. Puppies should be vaccinated with CAV-2 and Parainfluenza four times and Bordetella two times with an annual booster containing all three types. These three separate diseases that cause ITB (or Kennel Cough) are explained in more detail.


Infections are primarily respiratory, evidenced by Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Tonsillitis, and Pharyngitis. CAV-2 is one of the causes of Infectious Tracheobronchitis (ITB) that is often labeled "Kennel Cough." CAV-2 has not been associated with Corneal Opacity ("blue eyes"), Uveitis or virus localization in the kidneys, which may be characteristic of Canine Adenovirus Type 1 (CAV-1) infections. This virus is spread in the bodily secretions of infected dogs and a wide variety of carnivorous wildlife. Infectious Canine Hepatitis is rare in dogs today due to the efficacy of the vaccine. Like Lepto, Adenovirus is given in combination with Distemper/Parvo four times.


Canine Parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease which contributes to upper respiratory disease and Infectious Tracheobronchitis. It is one of the three major diseases that causes ITB which is also labeled "Kennel Cough." Characteristic clinical signs of CPI Infection is coughing that may be intensified by activity or excitement. Environmental factors such as drafts, colds and high humidity may enhance susceptibility to the disease. Typically, CPI is self-limiting, with a course of 5 to 10 days duration. However, secondary bacterial infection of the respiratory tract are not uncommon, and may complicate the clinical syndrome. Like Lepto, Parainfluenza is given in combination with Distemper/Parvo.


Bordetella is also one of the three most common causes of Canine Upper Respiratory Disease Complex, known as "Kennel Cough." The symptoms include a harsh, dry cough, aggravated by activity or excitement. The cough is followed by retching or gagging in an attempt to clear small amounts of mucous from the throat. Body temperatures may be elevated as secondary bacterial infection takes place. This disease is highly contagious and is readily transmitted to susceptible dogs. Like Coronavirus, Bordetella is administered at twelve (12) and again at sixteen (16) weeks with an annual booster.


Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterial organism known as Borrelia Bugdorferi. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick. The most common clinical manifestation is one of pain in multiple joints. In regions where vaccination is warranted, puppies should receive two (2) doses three (3) - four (4) weeks apart.


Rabies is an invariably fatal disease which affects all warm-blooded animals (including humans). The viru is spread in the saliva of infected animals and can be absorbed across abraded (broken or irritated) skin, mucous membranes, and even the eye. A single dose of vaccine is given at three (3) - four (4) months of age with a booster of Annumune at one year old, and then a booster of Trimune once every three years after that.

I encourage all of you to keep up on your dog's vaccinations and follow the vaccination schedule below. If you want to save a bunch of money, You can purchase vaccine and syringes for just a few dollars at your Veterinarian Supply Store or through a catalog from a Vaccine Wholesale Supplier. Most states will let you purchase and administer your own pet's shots. If you can not stand needles or giving shots, then go to a shot clinic rather than a Vet office. Shot clinics charge only a few dollars per shot with no office visit charge. Note that some states (like California), require the Rabies vaccination to only be administered by a Veterinarian. Then the Vet will give you a Rabies Certificate so you can show proof of the Rabies vaccination when you go to purchase your city or county dog license. Also, if your Beagle is a house-pet, you live in the city, and you never take your Beagle outside of the city limits (fields or woods), then you do not need to administer the Lyme Disease vaccine.

6 Weeks Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Lepto

9 Weeks Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Lepto

12 Weeks Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Lepto Coronavirus Bordetella (Infectious Tracheobronchitis) Lyme Disease

16 Weeks and Annually Distemper, Parvo, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Lepto Coronavirus Bordetella (Infectious Tracheobronchitis) Lyme Disease Rabies

12 Months (One Year) Rabies (also given once every 3 years after the one year booster)

This is the shot/vaccination regime used by Mojave Desert Beagles and we do not have problems with our dogs catching any of the above mentioned diseases. Remember, the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and the new saying, "A dollar's worth of prevention is worth ten dollar's worth of cure." No matter which way you say it, preventing disease is always better than treating it. Please keep your Beagle healthy so it can enjoy a long and productive life.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).