Canine distemper - Contagion, symptoms and treatment


In that case it is best to make a porridge with food that we want to give (commercial, or natural food such as chicken, liver etc). The we beat everything in the blender and add some chicken broth. This texture will make food for the dog easier and more appetizing.

If you still don't want to eat, we should put this mixture in a large size syringe (without needle) and force the dog to eat.

What is canine distemper?

The distemper, also known as distemper, is a very contagious pathology that is caused by a virus of the family Paramixoviridae, similar to that in people triggers measles. It is distributed worldwide, although in countries where dogs are vaccinated on a regular basis, cases are less frequent.

Not all dogs in contact with the virus will manifest clinical signs or may do so but with a very mild form. This is due to the health status of each specimen, which reminds us of the importance of good food, deworming, care and vaccines so that the immune system can fight the virus.

This attacks especially the cells of the brain and those of the body surface such as skin, mucous membranes in the respiratory or digestive system, eyes, etc. In each case, according to the organs that are most affected, we will detect different symptoms. In addition, the presence of the virus weakens the animal, so there are usually secondary infections.

First stage

It is characterized by the appearance of fever, which can become high. The dog stops eating, is apathetic and emits an aqueous secretion through eyes and nose, which gives the name to the disease and can make us confuse her with a cold. The secretion eventually thickens and adopts a yellowish color.

There is also a dry cough and vomiting and severe diarrhea> but you will suffer a relapse. It is the second stage of the disease.

Second stage

About 2-3 weeks after the first stage appeared, the disease will affect the brain. We will detect it for symptoms such as hypersalivation, chewing movements or shaking of the head. Some dogs seem to suffer epileptic seizures, run in circles, fall off, cook sharply with all four legs, etc.

When they recover from these crises they seem disoriented, give the impression of not seeing and seek to hide. It is also characteristic known as my distemper myoclonus, a disorder in which rapid and rhythmic contractions occur in any muscle of the body, but especially in the head. The myoclonus appears day and night.

In this state the dog will feel pain, which we will perceive because he groans and howls. These contractions may persist even when the dog recovers, but in a milder way.

Plantar hardening

Also known as hyperkeratosis of the plantar bearings and nasal epithelium. It is a form of distemper caused by another strain of the virus that causes damage to the skin of the feet and the truffle. It thickens and hardens. It appears fifteen days after the infection begins. It is a rare presentation.

How is canine distemper spread?

The distemper virus is released into the environment in all bodily secretions of infected dogs. The most common way of infection is the inhalation of the virus, since dogs usually sniff urine and stool their congeners.

For this reason, it is essential that unvaccinated pets do not circulate in the passage areas of other dogs whose health status is unknown or whether or not they are vaccinated. A recovered dog can continue to eliminate the virus for about 4-6 months.

How is canine distemper diagnosed?

Taking a blood sample can look for the presence of the virus. The veterinarian sends it to an external laboratory, where it is possible to perform several techniques, or use a quick detection kit at the clinic itself, taking a sample of the conjunctiva or nose.

Of course, there can be false negatives so you also have to attend to the clinical picture, its evolution and the response to treatment. In addition, at a minimum, blood tests will be needed to know the general condition of the dog.

When damage occurs at the brain level and there are other pathologies that could cause them can be used to diagnose an analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, which is the one that bathes the brain and spinal cord.

What dogs does canine distemper affect?

Although potentially any dog ​​could get distemper, those who are most at risk of getting sick are all those who have not been vaccinated. For this reason it is a pathology that we will see more often in puppies, with immune systems still immature and without having the vaccine schedule complete.

Within this group, those with a higher incidence> defenses that the mother has transmitted to them descend and the necessary doses of vaccines have not yet been completed.

It is important to know that this disease is specific to dogs. Therefore, although among them it is highly contagious, other animals that live with it they will not be affected, even in close contact. The exception is ferrets. People do not suffer from this disease.

The canine distemper treatment

The first thing we should know is that there are no home remedies to fight distemper. In fact, this disease will require intense veterinary treatment. It is also important that we go to this professional at the first symptom. Any cold in an unvaccinated puppy is suspected of distemper.

In addition, unable to kill the viruses, the objective is to establish a supportive treatment with the administration of intravenous fluids to keep the dog hydrated, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and drugs aimed at controlling the different symptoms that occur as vomiting. , diarrhea or seizures.

Recommendations to care for a dog with distemper

Typically, the beginning of treatment requires the dog to enter to receive specialized care and control. If the animal improves, the veterinarian will discharge you and we will continue to take care of you at home.

These are the recommendations to follow:

    Of course, scrupulously administer the medication prescribed by the veterinarian and follow its instructions. It is normal for appetite to be decreased> Temper the com> It is not bath time, although we do have to clean it locally if it gets dirty from vomiting, diarrhea, secretions or when eating. Keep it in a comfortable bed, at a suitable temperature and away from drafts or cold. If there are other dogs at home without vaccinating we must avoid contact Isolating the sick. Disinfect beds, utensils and surfaces. The virus in the environment is easily deactivated and can only withstand a few weeks in cold climates with temperatures between 0-4 ° C.

What is the prognosis of canine distemper?

We know that distemper is a serious disease that it can be fatal for our dog. But it is impossible to determine if a sick animal is going to be cured or not because that depends on multiple factors.

When the treatment has started, the virulence of the virus, the age of the virus, its vaccination status and how the immune system responds are the points that will influence the prognosis. That there is neurological involvement worsens the prognosis.

How to prevent canine distemper

Given the severity of the disease, the inability to eliminate the virus and the possible fatal consequences, the option is to prevent and not have to cure. For this it is essential that let's vaccinate our dog following the calendar proposed by the veterinarian and adapted to your vital circumstances.

The efficacy of the distemper vaccine it is very high. All puppies should be vaccinated and adults need revaccination at least every three years, although this vaccine is usually included in the annual revaccination. Of course, no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated dogs could get distemper, although in a milder way.

How does the canine distemper vaccine work?

Like any other vaccine, its mechanism of action is based on presenting the virus to the body, but in an attenuated manner. This is achieved using viral fragments, inactivated viruses or live viruses. When the vaccine is given, the animal's immune system reacts by attacking the pathogen we administer and create memory antibodies.

Thus, if the dog came into contact with the virus due to natural circumstances, in this case the distemper, he would immediately be attacked by an immune system that already has specific cells with which to fight it. Without the vaccine, a first contact with the virus can kill the dog if his body does not have time to create these defenses.

A dog that has managed to recover from distemper should also be vaccinated because passing the disease only ensures protection for two or three years. Therefore, it could be spread again.