Zoonoses & Common puppy diseases.
infections are passed from Singapore puppies to people. Ringworm in
puppies will be the one you are likely to encounter. It is
Zoonoses are infections that can be passed from animals
like puppies to human beings.
In Singapore, the following may be
A fungus that infects the skin, causing itchy circular rings.
Pet owners will see rings on the skin of their hand, elbow area
and thigh area. These are the areas where the infected puppy has been
held. The fungus can infect the head or other parts of the body.
Ringworm can be cured. However, some pet owners think they are
mosquito bites and do not consult their doctor.
If you consult your vet early when you discover any hair loss or itchy
skin in your puppy, you will be able to treat the ringworm or other
skin infections early before the whole body is affected.
Some people including vets do not seem to get infected. Symptoms
include an itchy circular skin area or areas.
Washing hands properly and often is important when your puppy has
ringworm and is treated by your vet.
Breeders and pet shop owners need to be vigilant in daily inspections
as a ringworm-puppy is not saleable.
2. Rabies. This virus is transmitted from rabid
dogs biting people and affects the brain and nervous system.
Singapore has been free from rabies for over 50 years and no rabies
vaccination is permitted in local dogs and cats. The people who are
worried about rabies are those working in the dog quarantine as
imported dogs may have rabies. There are anti-rabies
vaccinations for such workers.
Early diagnosis and treatment important for people bitten by rabid
dogs. As Singapore dogs have no rabies, the bites do not cause rabies.
The usual vaccines given to dogs in Singapore do not include rabies as
some pet owners believe.
3. Toxcariasis. Worms live in the intestines of dogs.
Younger children who often put things into their mouths or who do not
wash their hands frequently may accidentally eat the microscopic worm
eggs. The eggs hatch and cause symptoms such as fever, cough,
wheezing, abdominal pain, rash or enlarged lymph nodes.
Your vet will recommend that you deworm your puppy regularly. Do give
the worm medicine more than once and preferably every year for the
first few years.
5. Tick fever. Rocky Mountain spotted fever
and Lyme Disease can be transmitted from dog ticks to people but they
have not been common in Singapore. Ticks are one common external
parasites seen in Singapore dogs.
Lyme disease is
caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Signs are circular skin
rashes which may not be present. Mental depression and other nervous
system disorders and aches in joints may be present many years after
the tick bite. Lyme disease is hard to diagnose as laboratory tests
are not very reliable.
6. Campylobacter infections. People who comes into
contact with water, faeces or food products contaminated by the
Campylobacter bacteria which lives in the intestines of the dogs may
get diarrhoea, fever and abdominal pain. Many members of the
family may be infected. Treated with antibiotics.
COMMON DISEASES OF PUPPIES & DOGS
The following do not infect people.
The disease of puppy you may
encounter is the parvoviral infection which causes bloody stools and
death in young puppies a few days after purchase. This is not
disease that affects people but it is a traumatic experience for pet
lovers and children. Usually, the pet shop compensates the buyer
2. Canine distemper.
This viral disease affects the breathing system with the puppy showing
cough, runny nose and eyes as well as diarrhoea. When the brain gets
infected, the puppy collapses in a fit and dies soon. There is no drug
treatment although there is an effective vaccine.
Many home breeders who don't bother to vaccinate
their puppies before they sell them. If the puppy gets exposed to the
distemper virus or parvoviruses, the puppy will be sick.
3. Canine hepatitis.
The liver is infected by the canine adenovirus.
Jaundice is one sign of infection.
4. Canine parainfluenza. Most puppies have been
vaccinated and do not show serious symptoms of viral flu like runny noses and eyes.
5. Kennel cough. The Bordetella bacteria, parainfluenza and other
viruses infect the respiratory system of puppies. A dry hacking cough.
Sometimes yellow or greenish runny nose. Breeders in Singapore
do not vaccinate against kennel cough although a vaccine is available.
If you board your dog in a kennel with many dogs, it is best to
vaccinate against kennel cough.
6. Canine coronavirus and SARS.
SARS (severe acute respiratory
syndrome) is a coronaviral infection of people.
The canine coronaviral infection causes vomiting and
diarrhoea in puppies and dogs. It does not infect people. The human
SARS virus affect the human respiratory system.
coronaviral vaccine is available to protect your puppy. However, many
Singapore dog breeders do not vaccinate
against the coronaviral infections.
Request your vet to vaccinate if you wish to protect
your puppy against coronaviral infections.
7. Leptospirosis. A bacteria affecting the urinary system
especially the kidneys. It is usually transmitted by the urine of rodents
to dogs. There are rarely any reports of dogs transmitting
leptospira bacteria to people. However, your dog
will have been vaccinated as leptospira is usually included in the
combined vaccines given to puppies.
8. Scabies. A microscopic skin mite which infects the
skin of puppies, preferring the ear edges, paws and nose. Dry
crust or skin flakes seen may not be due to scabies. Consult your vet early. The mites do not
like people but new pet shop employees may be very worried about being
1. Don't share food with your pet. Keep your pet away from the kitchen
if you are preparing a meal. Never feed your pet raw meat.
2. Don't kiss or touch your pet with your mouth. It is hard to resist
your own puppy licking you with its tongue.
3. Don't let your pet drink from the toilet.
4. Wear gloves when cleaning cages or pick up pet faeces. This may be
important for those working in pet shops and quarantine stations. It
is easier said than done. Singaporeans usually use newspapers or
tissues to remove faeces. Wash your hands afterward.
5. Never wash you pet in the kitchen sink or bath tub.
6. Avoid sick animals or those that appear sleepy or sick.
7. If you have flu, try not to be too close to your puppy.
Although the human flu virus does not infect your puppy, the bacteria
in your cough may do so.
8. Vaccinate at week 6, 10 and 14. Consult Your vet. If
your puppy has runny nose, delay the vaccination. Healthy puppies do
not have discharge from their nose, eyes, ears and anus usually.
In conclusion, the vast majority of puppies born in Singapore or
imported from Australia and the U.K do not have zoonoses. Puppies are imported
from Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.S, Germany and the
Philippines are quarantined for 30 days in Jurong and vaccinated
An important concern of Singapore parents who have never owned a dog is that there
are zoonoses and therefore the children are prohibited from keeping
Dogs are great listeners and encourage children to
exercise and socialise with friends. Children without pets tend
to spend a lot of time playing computer games or go out to shopping
Extracts from the
How Your Puppies Can Live Longer?
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS.
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