The Pet Doctor

Contagious Diseases To Watch Out For In Hunting Dogs

In many ways, hunting dogs are like any other dog. You care for them and they become part of your family. However, because they spend a lot of time in the woods, around wildlife, and out of your clear line of sight, hunting dogs are prone to various contagious diseases that you don't typically see in dogs who are solely pets. Here are some specific diseases to watch out for in your hunting dogs.


Tularemia is a bacterial infection that can be carried by mice, rabbits, and other small animals. Your dog can become infected with tularemia if they happen to bite an infected animal. They can also catch it if they drink water that an infected animal has urinated or defecated in or near. Sometimes, tularemia can also be passed on to a dog by an insect vector, such as a mosquito. 

The signs of tularemia include loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, and conjunctivitis. Your vet can diagnose the condition with a simple blood test, and treatment involves antibiotics and IV fluids. Without treatment, tularemia eventually leads to liver abscesses and eventual death.


Leptospirosis is another bacterial disease carried by various mammals and spread through water. Hunting dogs can catch it if they happen to take a drink from the wrong puddle, or if they walk through contaminated feces and later groom themselves. The wetter the conditions, the more likely your hunting dog is to catch leptospirosis. 

Signs of this condition include fever, muscle soreness, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting, and diarrhea. Sometimes, the respiratory system is affected, causing shortness of breath and coughing. Antibiotics can treat leptospirosis, but treatment needs to be started promptly to protect the kidneys from lasting damage. 


Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that hunting dogs can contract by breathing in spores from the infectious fungi. Although many animals can get Blastomycosis, dogs are really sensitive to it, so they can often pick it up from wild animals that are serving as a carrier of the fungi without appearing ill. 

Blastomycosis causes fever, weight loss, respiratory distress, coughing, and swollen lymph nodes. It can be difficult to diagnose with blood tests, so most vets will begin treating it as soon as they recognize the symptoms. Treatment with antifungal drugs is usually successful, but it can take a few months for the infection to clear completely.

If you have a hunting dog, make sure you watch them for signs of these illnesses. Contact a local veterinarian ASAP if anything is amiss.