Dissecting Distemper: Your Guide to Canine Distemper
If you’re up to date on your dog’s vaccinations, canine distemper might be something that’s mentioned by your vet. Vets consider the vaccination for canine distemper to be a “core vaccination”, along with rabies, parvovirus, and canine adenovirus vaccines. As the American Kennel Club explains, these core vaccinations are the ones recommended for all doggos. What makes canine distemper such an important shot to take?
Just What Is Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a serious (and contagious) viral illness that sadly, has no known cure. This preventable virus doesn’t just affect dogs, but also ferrets, raccoons, wolves, foxes, and skunks. For canine distemper in dogs, the ones at risk are unvaccinated puppes and non-immunized older dogs. According to PetMD, the virus is transmitted through the air, and by direct / indirect contact with an infected animal. It targets first the dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes, and then attacks the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
How Will I Know If My Dog Has It?
Symptoms of canine distemper can be grouped into two stages of symptoms.
First, there will usually be discharge coming out of the dog’s eyes that range from watery to pus-like. This is followed by fever, a clear nasal dischage, and loss of appetite. The dog may cough and become lethargic, and start vomitting or passing a lot of loose stools. Along with this acute stage, the dog may develop what’s commonly referred to as the “hard pad disease”. The dog’s feet will enlarge and harden, making the dog more uneasy.
As the virus progresses into the second stage, it targets the central nervous system, causing symptoms that include seizures, partial / full paralysis, convulsions, and death. As reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, distemper is often fatal – the dogs that survive have lasting (and irreparable) nervous system damage.
How Can I Prevent This Virus?
There’s no better way to prevent canine distemper than vaccination. The shots administered to puppies are to increase the chances of building immunity while the immune system isn’t fully matured. Make sure you follow the vaccination schedule and distemper shots are up to date. Steer clear of infected animals, and be cautious when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs at locations where dogs can gather (ex. parks, doggy day care, etc).
Sploot View: Prevention is the Cure
Instead of worrying about canine distemper, achieve peace of mind by reading up on how to prevent this virus from targeting your dog. While it’s a serious disease, it’s actually one of the most preventable ones thanks to proper vaccinations and immediate separation of infected dogs/animals from your pet.
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