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Infectious Diseases: Know the Risks and Take Steps to Minimize Exposure

The Canadian Kennel Club Genetics and Medical Committee Reminds Breeders and Owners About the Risks of Infectious Diseases and the Baby Puppy Class.

Infectious diseases are always a risk, and The Canadian Kennel Club Genetics & Medical Committee wishes to remind breeders and owners of the best practices for limiting the spread of infectious diseases, and the unique concerns for animals entered in the Baby Puppy Class. Note these risks may also apply to all dog events.

Rules and Regulations

We remind exhibitors of Section 8.1 of the published CKC Conformation Show Rules and Regulations found here, with an excerpt below:

8.1 General
8.1.1 A dog may not be entered or exhibited at a show held under these rules if it has any communicable disease. Dogs entered in a show must have current immunization status.
8.1.2 No dog may be brought onto the grounds or premises of a show held under these rules if it:
(a) is known to have distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough or other communicable disease;
(b) has recovered from distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough or other communicable disease within the last 30 days
(c) has been housed within 30 days prior to the show on premises on which there existed distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough or other communicable disease.
8.1.3 Where it is found that these rules have been contravened, the dog in question shall be removed from the show premises and the exhibitor will be subject to disciplinary action.

Steps to Minimize the Spread of Infections

1. All dogs should be up to date on their immunizations. Modern vaccines are generally quite safe and always safer than the risk of infections, especially Parvovirus and Distemper in unvaccinated animals. Ensure that your adult dogs have been vaccinated on a schedule recommended by your veterinarian.

2. Exhibiting dogs under six months in the Baby Puppy Class is inherently risky. Maternal antibodies may interfere with vaccines and prevent an immune response sufficient to protect against disease. Maternal antibodies may persist up to 12 weeks. Puppies younger than 16-18 weeks should have received a booster shot 1-4 weeks before the show date. Participation in the Baby Puppy Class is at your discretion and in all cases, your baby puppy should have had multiple separate immunizations before participating.

3. No unvaccinated puppies should ever be brought to a show.

4. Avoid unnecessary contact between your dogs and other dogs at the show, other exhibitors, and show attendees.

5. At home, try to minimize contact between dogs that have recently returned from a show and your other dogs, and in particular unvaccinated puppies, for a period of two weeks to minimize transmission of infections.

6. Do not bring a dog to a show if that dog, or any dog that your dog has come in contact with, has been ill within the last two weeks. Remember that infectious diseases can travel on clothing and be aware that you could be an agent of infection.

7. To minimize the risk of transmission of infections between dogs, we recommend the handler/owner open the mouth of dogs in the show ring to show the bite rather than having the judge perform this task. You can discuss this directly with the judge for your breed/group.

8. Anyone handling dogs should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 30 seconds, scrubbing thoroughly with soap and warm water between handling different dogs and frequently throughout the day during a show to minimize as far as possible transmission of infections. If proper hand-washing facilities are not accessible at a show, use an alcohol-containing hand sanitizer product.

9. Clean areas that come in contact with animals frequently and thoroughly with an appropriate cleaner, particularly crates, bowls and other items brought to and from the show floor. Dilute bleach or stabilized peroxide disinfectants are the most effective at killing all types of pathogens.

10. Any dog that falls ill while at a show may be removed by the show authorities and reported to the CKC (8.6.1(b) Conformation Show Rules). We suggest that if a dog falls ill at a show the owner/handler immediately remove the dog from the building and inform the show authorities as well as owners of any other dogs that may have come into immediate contact with the sick dog.

11. If your dog was exposed to any dog that was ill or later fell ill, quarantine the dog immediately for a minimum of two weeks and discuss with your veterinarian.

Again, we stress that no dog with a communicable disease may attend a CKC-sanctioned show and any dog may be removed from the show by the show authorities on account of disease and be reported to the CKC.

Some more information on Canine Infectious Diseases

Canine Distemper is caused by an RNA virus that infects the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, central nervous system, and conjunctival membranes of the eye. Symptoms include sneezing and coughing, often with eye or nose discharge, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, and hardening of nose and footpads, hence the old name hardpad disease. Infection can result from inhalation of aerosols as well as direct contact with urine, blood, or discharges of infected animal. Secondary bacterial infections are a risk. Dogs of any age can become infected but the risk is greatest for unprotected dogs under six months of age. Distemper immunity is provided by core vaccination and the virus is killed by most common cleaning agents.

Canine Parvoviral Enteritis is a highly contagious disease of the digestive system. Symptoms typically include fetid, often bloody diarrhoea, fever, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy. Symptoms start 3-8 days after exposure and the virus is shed in the stool of infected dogs up to two weeks after infection. The virus may survive for months in the environment on items such as bowls, clothing or shoes, but typically infections result from contact with infected faecal material.Dogs of any age can become infected, but the risk is greatest for unprotected dogs under six months of age. Parvovirus is included in the core vaccinations. Parvovirus is resistant to most cleaning agents but bleach (diluted to 10-20% in water) or stabilized peroxide products, such as Virox/Accel/Virkon, can kill with a contact time of at least 10 minutes.

Kennel Cough
Kennel cough has a variety of causes: bacterial (Bordetella bronchiseptica), viral (adenovirus and/or parainfluenza virus), and mycoplasma. These may act alone or in combination and infections with multiple causes tend to be the most severe. Vaccination against Bordetella may not be effective in preventing contraction of Kennel cough. Kennel cough infects the upper respiratory tract and symptoms are a persistent cough and sometimes a nasal discharge and sneezing. It is highly contagious and may be spread by inhalation of aerosols or direct contact. Puppies with immature immune systems and old dogs with weak immune systems are at greatest risk for developing pneumonia from kennel cough.

Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)
Canine Influenza is caused by two separate virus strains, the less common H3N8 CIV and H2N3 CIV, which was introduced into the USA in 2015 from Asia and first seen in Canada in 2017. Symptoms are the same as Kennel Cough: coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Dogs of any age can be affected, particularly given that adult dogs in Canada have not acquired immunity to this recently introduced pathogen, although disease is more likely to be severe in young puppies and older dogs, as well as brachycephalic breeds. Secondary pneumonia is a risk factor. Infected dogs can start shedding the virus before the onset of symptoms and for up to 14 days afterwards. Transmission is through inhalation or contact with items such as clothing, bowls, shoes. CIV is killed by most common cleaning agents. A vaccine is available commercially. CIV vaccination is a non-core vaccine and should be evaluated on the risk of exposure and the risk of complications from infection.

Other infectious Diseases
Dogs travelling to areas of the world that have a variety of parasites or infectious viruses not common or not existing in Canada are at risk of contracting these exotic diseases. They may not be vaccinated against these pathogens and may lack acquired immunity of the local population. Dogs returning to Canada, traveling to Canada from exotic locals, or being imported by rescue organizations may bring exotic pathogens to Canada. Canadian veterinarians may not have access to diagnostic tools or laboratory tests to identify and treat pathogens not common to Canada, increasing the risk of severe disease in the dog.

Additional information on infectious diseases can be obtained by from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), or by speaking with your veterinarian.
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