Dogs, like human beings, are susceptible to various bacterial, viral and protozoan diseases. There are four major dog diseases that are capable of reaching epidemic proportions and resulting in a high mortality rate. They are distemper, rabies, leptospirosis and canine infectious hepatitis. These diseases are the "Big Four"—the scourges of dogdom. Of the four, distemper is the most widespread.
As a dog owner, you should be familiar with these diseases. By knowing the causes, modes of transmission and symptoms, you will be better equipped to help prevent your dog from becoming a victim. There are those who believe the average dog owner doesn't need to know anything about dog diseases, that at the first sign of something wrong, the dog should be rushed to the veterinarian. This is faulty thinking. It assumes that every dog owner can afford to take his dog to the veterinarian at every itch or burp and that the veterinarians can handle the traffic such a policy would entail. After all, there are about 20,000 veterinarians in the United States and more than 25 million dogs, not to mention millions of cats, birds and other pets. Furthermore, a large percentage of these veterinarians are engaged in treating livestock. In setting down the background of the dog diseases and
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