What is Canine Distemper and is There Treatment For the Infection?
Once a dog does contract the distemper virus, the only treatment is nursing care while the symptoms are eradicated from the body which takes up to three weeks (approx.
) Dog distemper is related to the human measles virus, which is a ribonucleic acid type.
This means that it is coated in protein cells which are in turn coated in a fatty envelope to prevent transfer of the disease by anything other than animal to animal contact.
Or if a well dog comes into very fresh nasal or other discharge from an infected dog.
The disease occurs worldwide and since vaccination programs have been developed around the world, dog and puppy deaths have decreased as a result.
Not only are our beloved four legged domestic friends at risk of catching distemper, but it can be commonly found in foxes and other wild carnivores.
As well as early weaned puppies, older dogs which have not been vaccinated are also at great risk of infection, which can often be fatal (puppies more so than older dogs).
But as we love our dogs, it is always wise to be safe than sorry! Symptoms of distemper vary greatly, from loss of appetite, eye and nasal discharge in the early stages to severe lethargy, diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing and shaky movements when it reaches the respiratory and nervous systems later on.
The distemper virus is spread among dogs by coughing and the nasal discharge being thrown into the local air of seemingly well animals.
It can also be spread via urine, this is a fundamental reason why home or kennel area of an infected dog must be thoroughly disinfected and cleaned to prevent re-infection.
When a new infection is found in a dog (entering through the nose and mouth), the dogs immune system 'kicks' in to protect the animal and destroy the virus.
However, this process is ineffective and helps transfer infection around the body.
Then within twenty four hours, it has reached the lungs and then after about a week, it gets to the stomach, liver and intestines.
All dog breeds can contract distemper and should be vaccinated for this reason by a vet.
If for some reason your local vet does not hold this essential vaccine, you should either find another vet which does or be extremely cautious where you take your best friend.
This includes dog parks and ventures into the wild, as these places are where he is more likely to come into contact with the virus if carried by other animals.