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Distemper in Dogs

Distemper in Dogs

Spending time outdoors can expose your dog to various harmful diseases like distemper. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these issues. In this article, our Mount Vernon veterinarians share crucial insights about distemper in dogs and offer tips to ensure your furry friend's safety.

What is distemper in dogs?

Canine distemper is a very contagious virus that can impact your dog's breathing, digestion, and nerves. Interestingly, this virus has been discovered in various mammals globally.

What are the causes of canine distemper?

Dogs can suffer from a severe illness called distemper, which can be deadly. This disease is caused by a virus known as a paramyxovirus, similar to the viruses causing measles and rinderpest. The reason it's so dangerous for dogs is because it simultaneously affects multiple internal systems.

How is distemper in dogs transmitted?

The canine distemper virus can spread in various ways. The primary method is through airborne droplets from infected pets or wildlife. Dogs can also catch it by sharing items like toys, bowls, and blankets, especially in places like kennels. If a pregnant dog has distemper, she might transmit the virus to her puppies through the placenta.

What are the signs of distemper in dogs?

Distemper symptoms in dogs usually start with yellow to green eye discharge, followed by the appearance of other symptoms shortly after.

  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Eating less than usual
  • Diarrhea

While some dogs commonly experience common cold symptoms when infected with distemper, some may actually present as asymptomatic.

What happens if canine distemper is left untreated?

If distemper in dogs is left untreated, it can progress to more serious symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Chewing motions of the jaw
  • Seizures
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Pneumonia
  • Crusting of the nose and foot pads
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Death, in many cases

Is canine distemper contagious?

Distemper is a very contagious virus. Infected animals might seem fine but can spread the virus for months.

Puppies are often affected by the canine distemper virus due to incomplete vaccinations. However, dogs without full vaccinations are more likely to catch the virus.

Diagnosing Canine Distemper 

If you suspect that your dog may have contracted the canine distemper virus, your vet will request diagnostic testing to be completed in the veterinary laboratory, along with a physical examination of the symptoms to confirm the diagnosis.

The Treatment of Distemper in Dogs

If your dog has canine distemper, your vet will provide care to help manage the symptoms. For severe diarrhea or vomiting, medications will be given to ease the symptoms, and hydration methods recommended to prevent dehydration.

This might involve IV treatments that offer all necessary care together.

Respiratory issues are a common effect of this virus in dogs. If your dog experiences this, your vet will provide support and treatment to improve breathing and speed up recovery.

Canine distemper can also lead to neurological problems, causing seizures and potential fatality. If these issues arise, your vet will monitor and provide the necessary choices for your dog's condition.

Preventing Distemper in Dogs

While being a serious condition, canine distemper can thankfully be prevented. Some of the ways that you can help to protect your pup can include:

  • Keep your dog up to date with distemper vaccinations
  • Prevent your dog from having contact with wildlife
  • Keeping your unvaccinated dog or puppy away from social settings and other animals

If you have any questions about canine distemper and its prevention, or if you are concerned that your dog may be showing the signs, speak with your vet. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog due for routine preventive care, including their distemper booster? Contact our vets in Mount Vernon to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Mount Vernon is accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about the health of Mount Vernon cats, dogs, and horses. Get in touch today to book your animal's first appointment.

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