What are the most contagious canine health conditions?

What are the most contagious canine health conditions?

Just like people, dogs can catch and pass on various illnesses and health conditions. However, there are vaccinations for many diseases to protect dogs from becoming seriously ill or dying. Read on to learn more about the most common diseases in the UK, what you can do to protect your dog, and what vaccinations your dog will need to have, to protect them from disease if you plan to travel abroad.

Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is perhaps the most common of all canine health conditions that can be spread from dog to dog; the risks increase greatly in environments where there are lots of dogs, such as doggy daycare facilities and boarding kennels.

Fortunately, Kennel Cough can be vaccinated against, and all responsible pet care facilities require dogs to be vaccinated before they can enter. Kennel Cough is also a risk for dogs in shelters and rehoming centres, where the vaccination status of dogs coming into the centres is unknown.

The Kennel Cough vaccine takes the form of a nasal spray, rather than being given by injection. It is not part of the core vaccinations that puppies are given. This is because most dogs won’t become seriously unwell if they catch Kennel Cough. However, you can request it, for example, if your dog will be going to doggy daycare or into boarding kennels.

Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza is spread very easily from dog to dog through fluid secretions-such as coughs, sneezes and runny noses. The virus is very hardy and can survive outside of the body for anything up to 48 hours, which means that dogs do not have to come into direct contact with each other to transmit the virus.

It often presents with similar symptoms to Kennel Cough, and as such, the two are often confused. Thankfully, there is a vaccination for Canine Influenza, which is given as part of a dog's core vaccinations - first when they are a puppy, followed up with annual boosters.


Parvovirus is one of the most serious and nasty of all of the canine viral health conditions, and for which there is no cure. Palliative care and supportive nursing are all that can be done for dogs with Parvovirus, to give the dog the best possible chance of survival.

Parvovirus is most dangerous in young puppies and older dogs with a compromised immune system and often proves fatal in puppies. The disease can be spread through the faeces of affected dogs, as the viral load sheds in the stools. It can also remain viable in the environment for several months.

Fortunately, this disease is also covered by the core canine vaccines, which all puppies should have before going outside or coming into contact with other dogs.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial condition rather than a viral one, which can lead to organ failure and death in infected dogs. The condition is more dangerous in young puppies whose immune systems are not fully developed, although it can also prove fatal in otherwise healthy adult dogs.

Leptospirosis is spread via infected urine and is often present in water sources such as canals and ponds, which attract rats that may carry the virus.

The Leptospirosis vaccine is given as standard in the UK.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus 1)

There are different types of hepatitis, which is a condition that affects the liver. Not all forms are contagious, but there is one variant called Infectious Canine Hepatitis which is.

This disease is transmitted via bodily secretions. It can even be transmitted from one dog brushing against the face of another infected dog, as the virus will be present in the mucous on their nose.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis is most likely to affect young dogs and those with compromised immune systems. A vaccination for this disease is included in the core vaccinations for dogs.

Travelling abroad with a dog

Different countries have different canine diseases, which means that vaccination requirements vary. For example, the UK is one of the few countries in the world where rabies is considered to have been eradicated, and where dogs are not required to have a rabies vaccination. However, if you are planning to travel to EU countries or Northern Ireland, your dog will be required to have a rabies vaccination before they can travel. This needs to be done at least 12 weeks before. You will also need to get, no more than 10 days before you travel, an Animal Health Certificate from your vet.



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