Dog Distemper – Symptoms and Treatment

The distemper is one of the most common diseases and lethal to dogs. The distemper affects the digestive tract and the breathing apparatus of the dogs. In advanced cases, it can also affect the nervous system.

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This disease is caused by a paramyxoviridae family virus , identical to human measles. This virus also affects other canids such as the Australian wild dog (the dingo), the coyote, the jackal, the fox or the wolf. It can even affect mustelids like the ferret, the possum or the otter and the procionídeos like the coati, the red panda or the racoon.

This serious disease does not spread to humans but can greatly affect your puppy by putting your life at stake. Discover in this article the YourCatCareguide the symptoms and treatment of distemper in dogs .

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What is distemper

Distemper is a virus also called distemper. It is a very contagious disease that does not only affect dogs and can be transmitted to other species of animals. It is a very serious disease for canines and the treatment for curing the animal should be a priority if you suspect it is infected.

To get an idea is a species of chicken pox identical to the one that humans suffer in childhood, affects mainly puppies of dogs although it can also occur in dogs that are old, who usually suffer more.

At the outset, if we correctly follow the vaccination schedule of the dog , it will be unlikely that our dog will suffer from distemper. Currently there is a specific vaccine to treat the virus, however, the effectiveness is not always 100%. Immunocompromised dogs, for example, are more vulnerable to disease transmission while still being vaccinated. Good nutrition, quality care and a stress-free life will help keep you healthy and strong.

How can we get distemper

Contagion occurs when a healthy animal comes in contact with viral particles that are in the air in the form of aerosol. Therefore, a diseased animal must be present, or have been, in the contagion zone.

Any dog ​​is at risk of having a distemper. However, dogs that are at greatest risk are dogs that have been vaccinated against the disease and puppies less than four months old. Puppies still nursing may be protected by immunity from breastmilk (if the mother is vaccinated), but this does not mean that precautions should be ignored.

It can also be transmitted in various ways such as through fluids from infected animals or the water and food they have consumed. The virus is incubated for about 14-18 days inside the dog, then the symptoms begin to appear gradually.

Basically all dogs are likely to suffer from the distemper virus, although they are always less predisposed those who are vaccinated.

What are the symptoms of distemper

The first symptom of distemper is an aqueous or pus-like discharge in the eyes. In later phases, fever, nasal secretion, cough, lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea may be observed. In some cases, a thickening of the leg cushion plant occurs. In advanced stages of the disease the dog’s nervous system can be compromised. In these cases, convulsions, spasms or paralysis (partial or complete) may occur.

Most dogs that get distemper die. Those who survive the disease usually have behavioral disorders caused by damage to the nervous system.

It can be difficult to detect the distemper in its first steps, since the symptoms are not always very evident. It may be that the dog seems a bit tired, and you think he is like this because he has had some physical activity or because he is very hot. When in doubt, take your dog to the vet immediately.

In summary, the symptoms of distemper are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Ataxia
  • apoplexy
  • Reddish eyes
  • Hardening of leg pads
  • Skin rashes
  • Corneal ulcer
  • General weakness
  • Nasal discharge
  • Involuntary movements of muscles

Treatment of distemper in dogs

Before the appearance of one or more symptoms we must take the dog to the veterinarian, for this to do the appropriate examinations and diagnose the distemper virus to our dog. From there treatment begins, always under the indication of the veterinarian. The sooner you notice the distemper, the more chances your dog will survive.

If your dog is already infected, administering the vaccine will no longer have any effect on him. You should know that there is no treatment to eliminate the virus when the disease has already occurred.

The only treatment currently available for dogs with canine distemper is to minimize symptoms , prevent dehydration, and prevent secondary infections. If it arrives there, the veterinarian can recommend euthanasia to avoid further suffering to the dog.

Generally the veterinarian uses a treatment with the use of antibiotics to fight the infection, also usually administer vitamin supplements to relieve some symptoms and to provide well-being to the animal. Helping the dog drink water is a good way to keep him hydrated.

Prevention of distemper

The only proven way to prevent distemper is to vaccinate the dog against the disease. However, this vaccine is not 100% effective. Vaccinated dogs may occasionally become ill. This can occur when the moisture provided by the breast milk prevents the vaccine from taking effect and leaving the puppies unprotected.

The vaccine is given the first time between 6 and 8 weeks of age, and a booster is received annually . During the pregnancy of the bitch , it is also a time in which we must pay attention to the vaccination since this way the antibodies will be transmitted to the puppies during the lactation. Remember that you should not take your dog out on the street without the corresponding vaccines, which could put your life at risk.

Caring for a dog with distemper

The symptoms of distemper affect the dog in different ways, we should try to make our dog feel comfortable, stable and beloved, and we can also apply these extra care by always consulting the veterinarian:

  • Moisturizing : Ask your vet which are the most indicated options, although we recommend a lot of water or homemade chicken broth (without salt or seasoning). It is possible that your animal does not want to drink, you can try to force it with a syringe without tip.
  • Nutrition : It happens like water, it is likely that your dog does not want to eat because of the malaise he feels. Give it premium canned food, much more appealing than your normal ration, plus you will feel pampered and will favor your recovery.
  • B vitamins : They have a positive effect on the animal’s muscles.
  • Follow all your veterinarian’s advice : Distemper is a hard-to-heal virus, so remember that it will be your priority both for your dog and for other animals that may live nearby.

This article is purely informative, in we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest that you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

If you want to read more articles similar to Distemper in dogs – Symptoms and treatment , we recommend you to come into our section of Viral Diseases .

    Emily Harris

    Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-pI am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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