Distemper in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Possible Therapies.



Distemper is a disease that may be deadly: let’s see which are the possible symptoms and treatment in order to eradicate it.

Canine distemper, also known as Carre’s disease, hard pad disease or CDV, is a highly contagious viral disease, closely related to the measles virus, highly contagious. CDV is seen in Canidae (dogs, foxes and wolves) and Mustelidae (ferrets).

Canine Distemper: How Is It Spread?

Distemper in dogs affects mainly puppies and it can be transmitted through direct and indirect contact, more specifically, via nasal secretions, saliva, or other secretions from infected animals.

The virus is initially located in the tonsils and the mouth lymph nodes. Four days following the host’s infection, the virus enters the bloodstream and attacks the respiratory system first, and then the GI tract. Successively, it also attacks the nervous system and the animal’s skin.

Is Distemper contagious for humans?

Humans cannot get infected with this disease, but this does not mean owners dealing with a distemper-infected dog must not pay attention to proper hygienic conditions.

Not so much for owners themselves, higiene must be a priority precisely because the disease has to be prevented from spreading to other unvaccinated animals.

Canine Distemper: Symptoms

The first symptoms of canine distemper related to the respiratory system are:

  • Coughing,
  • Nasal discharge,
  • Labored breathing,
  • Laryngitis.

As we mentioned before, after 4 days from the infection distemper starts to affect the respiratory system, causing pneumonia. A later stage of the disease, when the virus gets to the GI tract, it may show symptoms like:

  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Weight loss,
  • Dehydration.

All these signs will weaken the dog even more. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs show the following symptoms:

  • Seizures,
  • Fever,
  • Incoordination,
  • Muscle twitching,
  • Circling.

As to the skin and sight, the symptoms are:

  • Dermatitis,
  • Conjunctivitis,
  • Nasal and eye discharge,
  • And nose and foot pad thickening (hyperkeratosis).

It is integral to recognize distemper symptoms in your dog in order to prevent the disease from getting to the severe stages.

Canine Distemper: Treatment

There is no cure for canine distemper infection. Treatment typically consists of supportive care, mainly antibiotics to fight off secondary bacterial infections. Additionally, dehydration and weight loss are treated through fluid administration.

Canine distemper mortality oscillates between 30 and 80%. This suggests that, even though this disease is very serious for our hairy friends, there is a chance for them to overcome it.

Canine Distemper: Prevention

It is absolutely important to know that there is no definite test that can confirm the virus’ presence. Prevention becomes essential at this stage. Vaccination is the most important step to take in making sure your 2 or 3-month old puppy is well-protected. Puppies will receive the second series of shots after a month, and then on a yearly basis.

Many dogs have built partial immunity, passed through the mother’s antibodies. However, these puppies may show mild distemper symptoms, like mild discomfort, coughing, nose, and eye discharge. Nevertheless, these dogs are the main responsible for spreading the disease to unvaccinated dogs, which are likely to get to the severe stages.

Hygiene is also very important. The risk of contracting distemper is quite high, especially in public kennels. There, many unvaccinated street dogs can be found and the hygiene conditions are poor.

If you have more doubts, you may consult with a professional near your house, who will provide you with a great service and will answer all your questions.

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