Singapore's humid climate and high ambient temperature create a favorable environment for the increased number of health issues that affect dogs. Parasites both internal and external as well as their intermediate hosts or transport vectors also thrive because of the ideal environmental conditions.
Can dog diseases be passed to humans?
While not always the case, dogs in Singapore can also acquire zoonotic illnesses which are of public health importance. By zoonotic, it means that the disease can be transmitted to humans. To prevent the transmission of dog diseases to humans, pet owners are required to have their dogs vaccinated against important zoonotic infections like rabies and leptospirosis.
Contagious Dog Illnesses
There are also many contagious dog illnesses that can affect dogs in Singapore. The most common of these dog diseases include canine leptospirosis, parvo (parvovirus), dog flu, infectious hepatitis, and distemper. Most of these diseases are contagious between dogs and not humans.
Signs of infection in dogs – dogs illness symptoms
Dog infection symptoms that are manifested depend to a large extent on the organ systems of the body that are infected. In systemic infections, affected dogs generally exhibit the following symptoms:
- Lethargy and depression
- Loss of appetite
- Eye and/or nasal discharge
Here are the most common health issues that affect dogs in Singapore:
Allergies in dogs
Allergies are hypersensitive reactions to a foreign substance (allergen) by the immune system of the body. There are several types of allergies in dogs which includes the following:
Skin allergies (Allergic Dermatitis)
This is the most common form of allergic reactions in dogs. It can be caused by a hypersensitive reaction to flea bites, food, or environmental allergens.
Flea allergy dermatitis
Many dogs have an adverse reaction to an allergen that is present in the saliva of fleas. For these dogs, even a flea bite or two can already trigger intense itching. Persistent chewing and scratching cause their skin to become red and inflamed. Skin crusts and scabs may also form.
A dog that is allergic to any ingredient in his pet food can suffer from intense itching especially on the ears and paws. There may also be gastrointestinal symptoms.
The most common environmental allergens include dust, mold, and pollen. Hypersensitive dogs suffer from atopic allergy when exposed to any of these allergens. Most cases of environmental allergies are seasonal. But in Singapore, the weather makes it possible for trees, grasses, and weeds to grow year-round and a dog with environmental allergies (seasonal, atopy, or contact allergy) can suffer from persistent respiratory and/or skin issues. According to SPCA Singapore, the most common type of environmental allergen for dogs are house dust mites.
Skin problems in dogs
Heat Rash or hot spots
The heat in Singapore has resulted in many cases of heat rash or hot spots in dogs. It's similar to other types of skin irritations in dogs. Dogs that are exposed to too much heat, overweight or obese, or have wrinkly skin are more susceptible to the problem.
Moist Dermatitis (Also called hotspot or pyotraumatic dermatitis)
When there is a break in the surface of the skin, normal bacterial flora that are present on the skin can initiate an infection. The damage of the skin is often caused when a dog persistently chews, scratches, licks, or gnaws at itchy areas of the body. At first, the skin appears red, itchy, and moist. As the infection worsens, pus begins to ooze from the skin surface and eventually forms a crust. Hair loss may also be present in the affected area. Hot spots can be very painful and a dog may nip or bite when somebody tries to touch the area.
Fleas and Ticks
Ticks are more of a problem in Singapore pets compared to fleas. The high ambient temperature and humidity make it unfavorable for fleas to thrive. Also, most homes have solid flooring without any carpeting. A year-round parasite preventive program is the best way to protect your pet from external throughout the year.
Hypothyroidism In Dogs
Hypothyroidism is a condition that is characterized by abnormally low production of hormones by the thyroid gland. When the thyroid gland is inflamed or has shrunk in size, it can eventually lead to decreased production of thyroid hormones. Cases of hypothyroidism are commonly diagnosed in medium to large-breed dogs, as well as middle-aged dogs. Some breeds that are more prone to developing the disorder include the golden retriever, Doberman pinscher, and Irish setter.
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease or Hypercortisolism)
Cushing's Disease develops when there is excess production of cortisol hormone in the body. Cortisol has several vital functions in the body, such as stress response, weight control, fight infections, and keeping the levels of blood sugar in check.
Symptoms of Cushing's disease in Dogs
- Increased water intake
- Increased appetite
- Frequent urination and housebroken dogs may commit accidents indoors
- Hair loss or hair growth appears to be very slow
- Pot-bellied appearance
- Thinning skin
- Excessive panting
- Become more prone to skin infections
Working closely with your veterinarian can go a long way in ensuring your pet will have a long, healthy, and happy life. To protect pets from these problems, pet owners should take a proactive approach to the health and well-being of their pets. Being familiar with common dog diseases will make it possible for pet owners to protect their pets and seek immediate veterinary attention when symptoms are manifested.