Virus infections in dogs & cats: How to spot them and keep your Furry Friend healthy & protected!

Dogs and cats are susceptible to virus infections. While most virus infections are treatable, they can also be fatal if not properly managed. We look at the most common virus infections in cats and dogs, how to recognise the signs and hoiw to protect your pet during winter.

Prevention is better than cure!

Before looking at the signs and symptoms of specific viral infections in dogs and cats, one of the most important ways to defend against infection is a strong immune system! A healthy diet is important (try the Doggobone or Vondi’s ranges, both available at the Feelgood Health shop at Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town) as is regular exercise.

Feelgood Pets Liver and Immunity Support is a herbal remedy containing ingredients especially selected to strengthen the immune system in order to keep your cat or dog healthy and strong and to protect against infection.  It can be used preventatively and also as a natural antibiotic to assist in the recovery process of any infection. Read on to learn more about common viral infections in dogs and cats.

Virus infections in dogs

1. Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs. Most cases can be seen in puppies between six weeks and six months old but dogs of all ages can also develop this disease. The virus manifests in an intestinal or cardiac form – the intestinal form is usually more common. It is spread through contact with the dog’s saliva, vomit and feces. We recommend Feelgood Pet's Parvo-K to be used as a preventative or as part of a holistic treatment of parvovirus in dogs and puppies. 
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How to spot Parvo?

The symptoms of Canine Parvovirus are not hard to miss and owners should be able to spot them quite quickly. Watch out for a sudden loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, lethargy and weight loss. Your dog will become dehydrated and weak because the virus absorbs nutrients from the body.
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Treating and protecting your dog

Parvovirus can be treated effectively if caught early. The best way to prevent the disease is to vaccinate your puppy against the virus at six, nine and twelve weeks. However, if your dog does contract Parvo, take him to the vet immediately for treatment. Studies show that the virus can live in the soil for a year.

It is very important that you disinfect your home, outside area and dog’s kennel and sleeping area with household bleach. Parvovirus is resistant to all other cleaning products and bleach is the only disinfectant known to kill the virus.

In the Feelgood Pets range, Parvo-K is a natural, oral homeopathic remedy to immunise against Parvovirus and also protects against the virus during an outbreak. Parvo-K can be used to treat active Parvovirus but should done under veterinary supervision. 
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2. Canine distemper

Distemper is also another highly contagious viral disease which affects dogs. Closely relatedly to the virus causing measles in humans, the distemper virus is spread through contact with respiratory secretions. Puppies and young dogs are usually affected as well as those that they have not been properly vaccinated or have weak immune systems.
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How to spot distemper?

Early symptoms to look for are runny eyes, nose and coughing. Other symptoms that may follow include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and depression. In later stages, the virus will attack the nervous system and bring about seizures, convulsions or twitching. Canine distemper  may also cause footpads to harden.
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Treating and protecting your dog

In order to prevent canine distemper, vaccination is very important. While there is no effective treatment for canine distemper once it is contracted, it’s best to let the disease run its course and treat it symptomatically.

Puppies are very susceptible to infection and owners should take extra precautions when taking them to places where other puppies congregate – parks, grooming parlours, obedience classes etc.

Homeopathic remedies for distemper can be very useful during treatment. A useful remedy is Respo-K – which will help to soothe the respiratory tract and reduce congestion, coughing and sneezing.
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3. Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a term used to encompass a combination of viral and bacterial infections in dogs that are very similar to human bronchitis or even the common cold. Kennel cough is a very contagious upper respiratory tract infection.
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How to spot kennel cough

The symptoms of kennel cough include a ‘honking’, dry cough and possibly fever and nasal discharge. Some dogs will also cough up a foamy white mucous. 
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Treatment and prevention of kennel cough

Because kennel cough is so contagious, dogs that are exposed to large numbers of other dogs are at risk. This makes it important to protect your dog when he goes to kennels, shows or walks where there are lots of other dogs around. Our Immunity and Liver Support will help to strengthen canine immune systems and make your dog less susceptible to infection.

Bordatella and parainfluenza are two very common causes of kennel cough and many kennels request proof of vaccination.

Treatment of an active infection is symptomatic. In the Feelgood Pets PetAlive range, we have a very effective homeopathic remedy for kennel cough called KC-Defence which will help with the coughing and any fever. You can also expose your dog to steam by running the shower and keeping him in the bathroom or using a vaporisor with essential oils like eucalyptus and thyme. 

The respiratory symptoms of kennel cough can also be treated homeopathically with Feelgood Pets Respo-K, which will help to reduce congestion, sneezing and coughing and help your dog breathe more easily.
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Virus infections in cats

1. Panleukopenia (also called Feline Distemper, Feline Infectious Enteritis or Feline Parvovirus) is a highly contagious disease in cats. It is transmitted when a susceptible cat has contact with the urine or faeces of an infected cat.

This disease can also be spread by contact with urine or faeces that has contaminated clothing, shoes, bedding, litter boxes, water and food bowls even hands. It can also affect pregnant queens and transmit the virus to the unborn kittens in the uterus.
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How to spot Panleukopenia?

Symptoms may include a high temperature, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea (which can become bloody). Your cat can become severely dehydrated and weak. Pregnant cats who develop the virus may abort or have stillborn kittens. Some kittens may be born with physical deformities or mental damage.
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Treating and protecting your cat

Young unvaccinated cats are most at risk and it is therefore vital that pet owners make sure that their cats are vaccinated against feline viruses. Treatment for Panleukopenia is mostly supportive care where fluids are given intravenously to relieve dehydration. A bland diet is given once the vomiting stops.

Because the virus may live outside the body for a long time, cat owners must disinfect the outside environment, bedding and food bowls thoroughly with bleach.

For cats that have developed the virus, use Feelgood Pets FeliSafe which helps to assist with and protect against Feline Panleukopenia. It contains the homeopathic formula to immunise against the panleukopenia virus and is safe for all ages – adult cats, kittens and during pregnancy. Please note that during an active infection, home treatment is not recommended and you should consult your vet.
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2. Cat Flu

Cat flu is also referred to as snuffles, cat influenza or feline viral upper respiratory disease. This infectious disease is caused by the Feline Calicivirus (FCV) and Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) or Feline Rhinotracheitis (FVR). It is very common in multi-cat households, catteries, boarding and rescue shelters. Unvaccinated cats, feral cats and older cats are all at risk for developing this disease.

Cat flu is spread through direct contact when the virus is active in bodily fluids such as discharge, saliva, tears or nasal secretions and passed from an infected cat to a susceptible one. It can also be passed indirectly via contaminated food bowls, water bowls, bedding, litter trays, catteries or by humans handling infected cats.
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How to spot Cat ‘Flu?

Symptoms of snuffles or cat ‘flu that may affect your cat include inflamed, red and swollen eyes, inflammation and discharge from the nose, sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, difficulty breathing or coughing.
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Treating and protecting your cat

As there is no current cure for the Cat flu virus, supportive measures are usually taken to treat the infection while it is running its course. Vets may prescribe eye ointment to treat eye infections or nasal decongestants for your cat’s nose. In more serious cases, cats may need to be hospitalised and administered IV fluids.

Cat flu can be prevented by ensuring that your cats receive all the necessary vaccinations. Cats also have to be isolated to reduce the chance of spreading the virus to other cats.

If your cat develops cat flu, use Feelgood Pets FeliSafe to support the feline immune system against viral infections. This remedy contains the Calicivirus vaccine which soothes and promotes healing of the respiratory system and also helps to protect cats from contracting the virus in the first place. Feelgood Pets FeliSafe can therefore be used preventatively as well as to treat the actual viral infection. If you have a multi-cat household, it is therefore a good idea to dose all your cats with FeliSafe in order to limit spread of the infection in your home. FeliSafe can also be given to rescue cats as well as those who go into a cattery for any reason.

In addition to FeliSafe, respiratory symptoms of cat ‘flu and snuffles can also be treated homeopathically with Feelgood Pets Respo-K, which will help to reduce congestion, sneezing and coughing and help your cat to breathe more easily. As cats cannot breathe through their mouths, it is important to try and keep nasal passages open.
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