Distemper in Dogs
Distemper in dogs, or also called distemper, is a highly contagious disease that mainly affects dogs when they are puppies, although animals such as foxes or ferrets can also be affected. Cats are safe as they are not affected by this particular type of virus. They can suffer from another type of virus, feline distemper, which has nothing to do with the canine.
What is Distemper in Dogs?
Distemper in dogs, also known as distemper or Carré’s disease, is a virus that mainly affects dogs and is very similar to measles in people. It is the first cause of death of dogs by infectious disease.
This highly contagious disease affects the respiratory system, the digestive system and the nervous system. The best preventive measure against canine distemper is vaccination.
Infected animals release the virus through body secretions and are usually infected mainly by inhalation.
Since puppies do not usually have their immune systems yet developed, they are the most prone to infection. For this reason, it is essential to carry out a rigorous vaccination plan against distemper for both the mother and the puppy to avoid this disease.
The disease is more virulent when the dog is more malnourished or in worse condition, since their immune system is depressed and they have fewer defenses. Others, however, may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
How is Canine distemper Spread?
The contagion of canine distemper is easier than it seems. The distemper virus is transmitted by bodily secretions, such as mucus and tears, that our dogs release into the environment.
Those small seemingly harmless droplets that appear when the dog sneezes or coughs, are infected with the virus and are what cause the infection to occur.
Between dogs that live together it is very difficult to avoid contagion. A person who only has one dog but who takes it out for a walk and hangs out with other dogs in the park must be careful and vigilant, because many infections usually occur there as well.
How to treat distemper in Dogs?
We must know that distemper in dogs, being a viral infection, does not have a specific treatment. The first thing we have to do if we suspect that our dog may have contracted the virus is to take it urgently to the vet.
The treatment that is carried out is only to alleviate the symptoms and avoid the suffering of our pet. There is no medicine that directly cures distemper, but there are drugs that can help.
We can use expectorant medications or an antibiotic to try to remove the dog’s phlegm and control infections.
There are also drugs that help relieve diarrhea, vomiting and cough, to prevent dehydration, and others against seizures and pain.
Food supplements are very important to strengthen the health of the animal and help strengthen the immune system. Vitamin B is the most recommended for the nervous tics of canine distemper.
Avoid dehydration of our dog. It is easy for this to happen, our dog is without desire for anything and it is possible that he stops eating and drinking. We must avoid him at all costs and even force him if he refuses to eat or drink.
Hygiene, especially around the eyes and nose, is very important. We must carefully remove the secretions produced by the virus.
The Vaccine Against canine Distemper
Vaccinate your pet and prevent it from suffering, as the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.
The first vaccine against canine distemper should be given at five or six weeks of life and before the puppy comes home or lives with other dogs. It is usually included in the trivalent vaccine: distemper, measles and parainfluenza.
Since distemper is a disease similar to measles, it is advisable to vaccinate against this pathology as well.
Some puppies do not respond correctly to the distemper vaccine due to neutralizing antibodies from the mother. However, the measles infection is capable of defeating the antibodies and partially protects against distemper.
Once the mother’s antibodies have disappeared, the distemper vaccine will offer complete protection to the pet.
And, as a reminder, it is advisable to carry out the annual vaccination against distemper.