How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper Virus

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How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper Virus

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper

Canine Distemper Virus

Canine Distemper is a very prevalent, highly contagious disease of dogs caused by a virus.  The virus may be spread by contact with mucous and watery secretions discharged from the eyes and noses of infected dogs.  Infection may also occur from exposure to urine, fecal material, and through the air.

Better than 50% of unvaccinated adult dogs that contract the disease will die.  Among puppies, the death rate often reaches 80% or higher.

 

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper ?

Symptoms Of Canine Distemper

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper

Signs of distemper include squinting, congestion of the eyes, and eye discharges.  Weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharges, poor appetite, and diarrhea often occur also.  Most infected dogs have a fever.  Bronchitis and pneumonia frequently develop as the disease progresses.  In some cases, seizures may be the first sign noticed.  Occasionally, the virus affects the footpads resulting in �hard pads�, frequently called “hard pad disease”.

Many dogs that do survive the initial disease will still suffer permanent damage to the nervous system (brain and spinal cord).  Partial or total paralysis may result.  Seizures often occur which become more frequent and severe as the disease progresses.  Most dogs that develop these signs must be euthanized.

 

Diagnosis of Canine Distemper

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper

Diagnosed is based on a physical examination.  Specific blood tests can be done to detect antibodies to the distemper virus.  However, your dog’s veterinarian may also need to run other blood tests to rule out other diseases which can cause similar symptoms.  Evaluation of the cerebrospinal fluid may be necessary to diagnose canine distemper in some cases.  Imaging studies, such as radiographs or ultrasound examinations, may need to be done to fully evaluate the lungs.

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Treatment Of Canine Distemper

How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has Distemper

Treatment is very difficult since the cause is a virus.  There are currently no drugs available to kill the virus, just as there are no drugs to kill most of the viruses affecting people.  Drugs are used to strengthen the pup�s body to help it fight the virus.  Antibiotics are given to prevent secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia.  Other medications, such as anti-emetics and anti-diarrhea medications, may be necessary to treat symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.  Anticonvulsants medications may be necessary to control seizures.  Fluid therapy will likely be necessary to battle dehydration.

Recovery often takes 6-8 weeks before it can be assumed that your dog will not be left with any of the permanent damage affecting the brain.  Many dogs appear to respond very well to the initial medications, but then later develop seizures or twitches.

Prevention Of Canine Distemper:

Prevention is easily accomplished by proper vaccination.  Canine distemper is considered one of the “core vaccines” that all dogs should receive.  Your dog’s veterinarian will advise you of the proper vaccination schedule for canine distemper for your dog.

Cats are not susceptible to Canine Distemper.  The so-called �Cat Distemper� or “Feline Distemper” is a different disease caused by a different virus.

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