Distemper in Dogs | Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Health Issues and More

Distemper in Dogs | Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Health Issues and More

Distemper in dogs is a viral disease that is known to be fatal. Although not known to be contagious, distemper is contagious to other dogs. Distemper is a respiratory disease caused by a virus. The symptoms of distemper in dogs include respiratory distress, lethargy, fever, inability to swallow, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, among others. The most common form of distemper is feline distemper. Distemper in cats is more common than in dogs. Symptoms of distemper in cats include coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge. If you are having any of these symptoms, please call your vet immediately.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper

When distemper first shows itself, the symptoms in dogs are mild. They include sneezing, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Treatment for distemper in dogs usually begins with the administration of supportive medications to treat the illness. In addition, the administration of fluids to treat dehydration is necessary. If a dog has symptoms of dehydration, he or she must receive oral rehydration fluids, intravenous fluids, or both. Sometimes the respiratory distress is treated by using nebulizer treatments. This helps to manage inflammation of the lungs. Treatments for distemper in dogs include Vitamin K, Rhinocort, and Nasonex. Rhinocort contains steroid medication. Is the Distemper Vaccine Safe? You may have heard that the Distemper vaccine is not completely effective in dogs.

Causes of Canine Distemper

Distemper is an infectious viral disease that infects and destroys the respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory, and central nervous systems. It is mainly spread by contact between infected dogs. Humans can contract distemper by coming into contact with the virus, usually from their dog or by touching infected objects. There are multiple types of distemper. According to National Research Council (NRC), the predominant types of distemper are A (type A), B (type B), and C (type C). Risk factors for the spread of canine distemper include crowded living conditions, poor sanitation, food contamination, contact with other infected dogs, and exposure to infected birds and other infected animals.

How Dogs Get Canine Distemper

Distemper is caused by a virus. An infected dog or cat (or any other infected animal) will most likely spread the virus to other animals and humans. To have distemper in dogs, you must be within 4 meters (about 13 feet) of an infected dog or cat. Dogs who are allowed to roam freely will most likely get infected with the distemper virus. The virus is not airborne. It spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or cat, or through contaminated surfaces. The infected animal sneezes and coughs, then droplets of saliva and mucus (sometimes contaminated with the virus) are released into the air. These droplets then are blown by the wind or carried by the wind in the air to other animals or people.

When to See the Vet for Canine Distemper

The typical incubation period is from 2-4 weeks, but some symptoms may not be visible until 6-8 weeks of age. If your dog has a cough, he or she should be seen by your vet immediately. If your dog is dehydrated, fever is present, and cannot eat or drink, it is essential that you call your vet immediately. Common Causes of Distemper in Dogs | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment The most common cause of distemper in dogs is the lack of immunity. You can have the virus without displaying any symptoms. Dogs that have not had distemper may be carriers of the virus. Hatching of the virus also occurs spontaneously. If you suspect your dog has the virus, contact your vet immediately. If your dog already has distemper, symptoms of this virus will show up over the first 24 hours.

Diagnosis for Canine Distemper

The diagnosis for canine distemper in dogs is based on symptoms. Your veterinarian will examine your dog’s body for any of the following signs and symptoms: red skin or streaks white lesions unusually small (furry) puppy fits less well than usual fast breathing distorted or twisting head runny nose difficulty swallowing difficulty or inability to poop or pee unusually watery eyes Swollen lymph glands When you are at the vet clinic, your vet will ask about any new symptoms or illnesses your dog is experiencing. An x-ray of the abdomen, or head, spine, or legs may also be necessary to detect a high-grade abscess (infection of the soft tissue).

Treatment for Canine Distemper

The treatment of distemper depends on the severity of the disease. The condition in dogs can be treated with anti-viral medications and supportive therapy. Influenza Vaccines The most effective vaccine for canine distemper is an influenza vaccine. Your veterinarian will conduct a blood test to check the blood antigens to the virus to see which vaccines are most effective in controlling the disease. For best results, the vaccination should be given at least 2 months before exposure to the virus. High-Dose Flu Vaccines The flu vaccine is safe for dogs. The anti-viral flu vaccine and the combination vaccines can give an 80 percent vaccine response. Are They Safe for Small Pets Distemper can affect humans and can be fatal.

Preventing Canine Distemper

If you have an outdoor dog, you need to be concerned about distemper. Before being transferred to your next home, make sure that your dog is vaccinated. It is a very effective way of preventing distemper and other types of canine respiratory diseases. Do not allow your dogs to play with other dogs if they are not vaccinated. There are many vaccines available for your dog to prevent distemper. The most common one is Picaridin distemper vaccine. It is a short-term vaccination that must be administered every two months. Other vaccinations that are recommended include liver distemper vaccine, melioidosis vaccine, rabies vaccine and others. Livestock dog (Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Beagle etc) vaccine can be effective for dogs that live in the country.

Lasting Health Issues from Canine Distemper

Distemper is an infectious disease that can be fatal for dogs. It is also very contagious. However, there are a few concerns of a dog infected with canine distemper that can lead to other health issues in your dog. Dogs with canine distemper are often underweight, meaning they weigh about 3 pounds to 8 pounds when they should weigh 9 pounds to 13 pounds. A dog that weighs more than 11 pounds is at the high end of the normal weight range. A dog that is underweight has a compromised immune system. Canine distemper in a dog can make him or her sick, but it can also lead to poor circulation. A dog with poor circulation and low blood sugar is more prone to getting internal or external skin ulcers. You need to keep your dog from getting around other dogs.

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