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COMMON CANINE VIRAL DISORDERS for immunization consideration

Distemper is a serious & sometimes fatal viral disease that attacks with a poorly vaccinated or unvaccinated dogs. Symptoms can include runny eyes & nose, fever, loss of appetite, coughing, diarrhea and, may progress to seizures. Distemper is carried by many animals common to both our rural and urban environments: recommends, foxes, coyotes, skunks, & other infected dogs. Clients who walk their dog(s) regularly in Point Pleasant Park and, other HRM city parks will have seen occasional notices placed by the city warning of wild animals in the park carrying this virus.

Unfortunately, treatment for this severe viral infection may be unsuccessful in over half the cases, but involves IV fluid and electrolyte replacement, antibiotics used to combat any secondary infection, & occasionally seizure medication is required, in addition to symptomatic management of vomiting, diarrhea, & coughing. Distemper virus deaths have been significantly reduced by the widespread use of appropriate vaccination used in appropriate strategies and situations. Unfortunately, Dr. Goodall’s background with sled dog racing exposed him to this disease with his own teams in the mid-1970s, and he does not want to see this happen to any of the pets in his care if at all possible.

Parvovirus is another viral infection that is fatal if left untreated in unvaccinated dogs. This virus enters through the gastrointestinal tract, infects the gastrointestinal lining & prevents your dog from absorbing nutrients & water necessary for life. Symptoms typically seen our severe vomiting & diarrhea that progress to bloody vomiting & bloody diarrhea, lethargy and can quickly ( Treatment for this disorder involves aggressive IV fluid & electrolyte replacement therapy, antibiotics to ensure no secondary infection occurs while the puppy’s immune system is given a chance to resist the virus, symptomatic management of vomiting or diarrhea, combined nutritional support by syringe feeding or stomach tube feeding, warmth, and comfort. Unfortunately, up to 15% of puppies infected with parvovirus will succumb to a secondary effect of the parvovirus infection where this virus attacks one of the muscle linings of the heart leading to sudden passing. There is significant evidence that a dog surviving parvovirus infection does not actually require vaccination for parvovirus for 7 years following the infection. Sadly, we still see clients who question the value of vaccination for this easily preventable disease and, see cases on an all too common basis.

Adenovirus’ prevalence in the canine community in Eastern Canada has decreased significantly with vaccine use and, is very uncommon. However, Adenovirus Type-I can cause life-threatening inflammation of the liver & this virus is carried by other members of the dog family-foxes, coyotes as examples. Therefore it is still of some concern for puppies and should be considered as part of a puppy vaccination protocol. Also, because its symptoms of Adenovirus Type-II mimic those of “Kennel Cough”, we do recommend puppy vaccination for this virus in puppies.

This virus and attacks the respiratory system and, symptoms mimic those of “Kennel Cough”-resulting in a mild cough & nasal discharge. However, Sunnyview Animal Care recommends vaccination for this disorder as infections can be severe in puppies.
When reviewing both Adenovirus & Parainfluenza outlines above-it becomes apparent that “Kennel Cough” is a syndrome that can be the result of infection or co-infection with these or many other respiratory viruses. Also puppies infected or seriously debilitated by other viruses are bacterial infections can become secondarily infected with the kennel cough-related viruses & become even more ill-requiring longer-term/more costly veterinary therapy.
The vaccine for “Kennel Cough”, actually is a vaccination against the most common secondary bacterial invader of the lungs after either of these other two viruses weaken the lungs/invade the lung tissues. At Sunnyview Animal Care we use an intranasal vaccine that combines both Parainfluenza & Adenovirus type II, in addition to offering immunity to the bacterium as well. Use of intranasal vaccine in this situation is very warranted as, the vaccine is placed in the area where infection starts-the use of this vaccine can result in immunity within hours of vaccination!

Lyme Disease is transmitted to dogs only by the bite of ticks. This bacteria moves to many parts of the body but appears to localize primarily in the joints but also may do so in the kidneys. Symptoms are challenging to detect in dogs, as they are very similar to other more common disorders. Lack of appetite, generalized discomfort, fevers, and possibly lameness may be observed by the owner. In clinic Lyme Disease testing can only be performed six weeks after an engorged tick is found on the dog & the dog is placed on one or two months of antibiotic medication with annual reassessment for possible development of other issues.

As of early 2016 there does appear to be evidence of immunosuppression for pets with this disease requiring clients to consider annual vaccination of dogs that are “positive” for this disease. Regardless of being positive or negative for Line Disease-Sunnyview Animal Care strongly recommends the use of tick preventative’s for all dogs in our practice area from March 1st through to December 30th. Not only will tick preventatives remarkably reduce your pet’s exposure to ticks but, will also reduce the number of ticks coming into your home and reducing any risk to your family. Please click HERE for information on how to remove ticks safely.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease affecting dogs & many other mammals-including people. Ingestion of rodent-contaminated garbage or, swimming or drinking from urine infected puddles/contaminated water sources are the primary forms of transmission. As with many other diseases, symptoms of leptospirosis infection can be easily confused with other more likely diseases. Diagnosis can also be challenging-treatment is aggressive use of antibiotics and supportive therapy such as IV fluids and extended hospitalization.
Leptospirosis vaccination may form part of your dog’s annual vaccination strategy depending on your activities with, or travel to other parts of the country or the US (very similar to Rabies disease), or plan to take your dog into wetland areas/hunting. At the time of your pet’s annual Wellness Assessment, part of our history taking will indicate if this is needed for your dog.

Rabies virus like Leptospirosis can lead to serious infections in people, & is usually transmitted by the bite from an infected animal however, ingestion of a recently deceased carrier such as mice or bats may also lead to this devastating, invariably fatal disease for all mammals. The reservoir for rabies in our province is primarily bats and, at this point their population numbers are very low but expected to increase in the coming few years. Sunnyview Animal Care recommends rabies vaccination after 16 weeks of age, then boosted up one year, then on a three-year cycle for the entire life of your animal. This vaccine is mandatory for travel with your pet into the United States. Of all the vaccines utilized in our veterinary practice, rabies is considered the most effective and least likely to cause any reaction or discomfort post immunization.

At this time Sunnyview Animal Care does not recommend vaccination for this virus.


Puppy vaccinations are an important part of starting your new family friend off in the right direction. Your puppy should be immunized using Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus(“DHPP”) vaccine at the following ages; 6-8 weeks of age, 10-12 weeks of age, 16 weeks of age, & 20 weeks of age. At Sunnyview Animal Care it is not uncommon for us to spread out the 16 week vaccination and divide visits in two where the DHPP immunization is given 2 to 4 weeks after the rabies immunization at 16 weeks. This will depend on your puppy’s species, & breed concerns, and also based on its overall adult weight.
It is important for our clients to understand that immunity to any disease we immunize our puppies for does not start immediately; instead immunity develops over 10-14 days, requires at least one follow-up booster (in puppies we recommend two follow-up boosters one month apart for a total of three) which also takes 10 or 14 days to reach full effect.


Once are puppies are vaccinated two or three times one month apart using DHPP and, in combination with Rabies immunization at 16 or 20 weeks, Sunnyview Animal Care that DHPP & Rabies immunization be repeated at the one-year anniversary of the last vaccination-typically at one(1) year & four(4) months of age.
After your dog’s first year immunization Wellness visit, & in concert with the annual Wellness Assessment, your veterinarian will discuss the vaccination protocol for your pet based on its travel history, activity level, breed, and if you frequent day cares/dog competitions or, plan on boarding your dog on vacations. Typically, this results in a three-year rotational immunization strategy for your dog involving; a Parvovirus booster given in the second year, a Distemper booster given in the third year, & a Rabies booster given in the fourth year. This three-year rotation cycle is continued for a maximum of three cycles in total-ending for most dogs between 8-11 years of age.


At This time, the team at Sunnyview recommends a different approach to the health care of geriatric Pets – Namely our ‘Twice for Life Senior Pet Wellness’ plans, where ‘annual vaccinations’ – other then possibly the administration of a Rabies booster every 3 years – stop to be replaces with an examination, BCS, & health assessment with blood-screening for developing conditions.

Please NOTE: Bordetella/Kennel Cough, Lyme Disease, & Leptospirosis immunization does not form part of current “Core” Canine vaccination recommendations at this time – but as a client of Sunnyview Animal Care, there is no additional examination fee if you feel this vaccination becomes warranted for your pet’s/families’ situation outside your pet’s annual Wellness Assessment – regardless of your pet being in a ‘PAWs’ Wellness plan or not.