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Common Disease Risks For Dogs From Social Settings

Common Disease Risks For Dogs From Social Settings

In this post, our Windsor vets share some of the most common diseases to be on the lookout for if your dog lives a social and active lifestyle.

Diseases Spread at Dog Gatherings

Below is our list of the health risks posed by social settings for your dog. These are the most common and general risks and not an exhaustive list. For a more complete picture on the dangers, you can always contact your veterinarian  

Canine distemper

Caused by an exceedingly contagious virus, canine distemper affects the respiratory secretions of infected dogs. This leads to the development of runny eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, paralysis and even fatalities.

Canine distemper is fully preventable via vaccination, and all dogs are recommended to be vaccinated for it as part of their core vaccinations.

Canine influenza ("canine flu" or "dog flu")

A relatively new disease for dogs, the canine influenza virus can be particularly nasty because most dogs have never been exposed to it, and as a result, their immune systems are not fully equipped to handle it.

There is a vaccine for canine influenza, but at this time it is not recommended for every dog. Consult your veterinarian to determine if the canine influenza vaccine is right for your canine companion.

Canine parvovirus ("parvo")

Parvo is caused by canine parvovirus type 2, an exceptionally contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal system and causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other similar symptoms. Direct contact between dogs as well as by contaminated stool, surfaces, bowls, collars, leashes, equipment, and the hands and clothing of people. It can also survive in the soil for years, making the virus hard to kill. Treating parvo can be very expensive and many dogs die from parvo despite intensive treatment.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine for parvo. It is considered a "core" vaccine and is recommended for every dog. 

Ticks and Fleas

Fleas are common external parasites that rely on a host animal for survival. Unless steps are taken to break their lifecycle, adult fleas will continue to live and reproduce on your pet - and in your household.

Cats and dogs may be allergic to the protein in flea saliva, which is why they often start to scratch as soon as a flea bites their skin. Even one fleabite may cause pets to scratch excessively and become agitated.

Ticks are external parasites that feed on both humans' and animals' blood. They do not fly or jump, but rely on hosts (typically, wild animals are responsible for bringing ticks onto your property) for transportation. Once they are on your property, pets often become hosts and the parasites are then brought into your home.

Because ticks spread a number of serious diseases, they are dangerous to both people and pets. People can get serious conditions such as Lyme disease when the tick's saliva—which contains germs and bacteria—makes its way into the bloodstream.

Fertilizers and pesticides

You should Avoid letting your pet walk, run, play or roam in areas that have recently been treated with fertilizers or pesticides as many of them are toxic to animals   


Heartworm disease can lead to heart failure, organ damage, severe lung disease, and even death for pets in Windsor. This serious disease is most typically found in dogs.

Spread through mosquito bites, heartworm disease is primarily caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis.

Pets including dogs, cats, and ferrets can be definitive hosts, meaning that ticks can live inside these animals, mature into adults, and produce offspring. This serious condition was coined heartworm disease because the worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected pet. 

Symptoms of heartworm disease typically don't appear until the disease is advanced. The most common symptoms of heartworm disease include swollen abdomen, coughing, fatigue, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. 

It's important to keep your pet on preventive medication to prevent heartworm disease. Even if they are already on preventive heartworm medication, we recommend that dogs be tested for heartworms annually. 

Heartworm prevention is safer, easier, and much more affordable than treating the progressed disease. A number of heartworm preventive medications can also help protect against other parasites such as hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms. 


If you love spending time outdoors in the summer or live in a hot climate, especially with your canine companion, you have to be aware of heatstroke.

Heatstroke is also known as prostration or hyperthermia. It can be defined as an increase in core body temperature caused by environmental conditions. The temperature of your dog's body should normally be about 99-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog's body temperature increases above 105, contact an emergency veterinarian immediately. Heatstroke is a very serious condition that could be fatal.

Kennel cough

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that is closely related to respiratory disease in dogs. It is one of the components of the canine infectious respiratory complex, sometimes referred to as kennel cough, upper respiratory infection, or infectious tracheobronchitis.

Dogs who will be in areas where they may come into contact with other dogs such as doggy daycare, the groomers, the dog park, and boarding facilities, are more likely to come into contact with this virus and develop signs of an upper respiratory infection.

The main way dogs catch bordetella is by inhaling bacterial particles. When these particles make their way to the respiratory tract, the dog can experience an inflamed windpipe or voice box.

Certain situations can increase the chances of a dog catching diseases caused by the bacterium. These include the following:

  • Staying in a poorly ventilated living space (such as certain kennels)
  • Colder temperatures
  • Exposure to dust or smoke
  • Stress (often brought on by travel issues)

There are vaccines for kennel cough, but not all dogs need to receive the vaccine. Consult your veterinarian about whether or not the kennel cough (Bordetella) vaccine is right for your dog.


The Rabies virus is capable of infecting all mammals. Most organized social gatherings for dogs, or social spaces for dogs like dog parks, will require proof of rabies vaccination for admittance. The disease is brutal, painful, and 100% fatal. It is passed via saliva thus making the bite of an infected animal the primary concern. As rabies also increases aggression, it makes animals infected with it into even more dangerous carriers.

Fortunately, rabies infection is preventable with vaccination. Connecticut law states that all dogs and cats over the age of 3 months must be vaccinated against rabies. Pet owners are required to show a vaccination certificate as proof in order to license their dogs. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned your dog contracted a disease at a social gathering and needs emergency veterinary attention? Contact New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care right away for examination.

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Contact (860) 688-8400