Dogs are very strong animals; in fact, they might even prove to be much stronger than you in certain situations. However, in many respects, these beautiful doggies turn out to be just like you and me, and are therefore susceptible to many different diseases and illnesses that can prey on their health and wellness. If not taken seriously, certain viral diseases can have long-lasting detrimental effects on your pooch, and in the worst-case scenarios they can even result in death.
Today’s topic is Dog Distemper, a very serious viral disease that dogs aren’t equipped to combat and fight on their own. You may have heard of this issue from other dog-lovers or your veterinarian might have mentioned it, but the problem is that plenty of people are unaware of what exactly distemper is. So, in the hopes of spreading awareness, we have prepared a simple guide for you to read on Dog Distemper: Symptoms, Treatment, Care and Recovery at Home.
What is Dog Distemper?
Dog Distemper, more commonly known as Canine Distemper, is a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease that affects dogs and other wild animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, etc. It damages a dog’s bodily systems, particularly the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous system. Then, it causes widespread infections, which not only worsen the disease, but make the pooch more prone to other illnesses as well.
Although the widespread use of vaccination among dogs has greatly diminished the number of Dog Distemper cases in most recent years, the disease still manifests itself up to this day. As it can be found all around the world, it is not uncommon to learn of outbreaks and spreads of the disease in remote parts of the world, too. For that reason alone, it is becoming increasingly more important for dog owners to check up on their dog’s health and wellness, especially pertaining to diseases and their respective preventive measures.
Signs and Symptoms of Dog Distemper
Due to the fact that Dog Distemper affects multiple body systems at the same time, it is difficult to pinpoint one specific sign or symptom that can guarantee a correct diagnosis. However, a combination of illnesses pertaining to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neuromuscular systems can represent a solid indicator. Any of the following symptoms occurring in conjunction could possibly be caused by Dog Distemper:
Diarrhea is characterized by loose or even liquid stools, as well as the frequent need to poop and discharge waste. So, if you start to notice that your doggie is having a bad time pooping, then he is likely to suffer from diarrhea.
Similarly to humans, dogs can get sometimes spike a fever, characterized by an elevated body temperature. For dogs, the normal temperature ranges from 101 to102.5 F. So, if your doggie is starting to feel a bit hot, then they may have come down with a fever.
3. Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is very easy to spot in dogs, especially if you’re used to them chowing down on their favourite food all the time. If they begin to leave their food unfinished or refuse to eat, then something is definitely up.
Vomiting is the process which occurs when your dog rejects something they may have eaten. This means that their body does not agree with that particular food or that they may have simply eaten too much, too fast. However, in the case of Dog Distemper, your pooch is likely to have issues with their tummy due to the viral disease.
5. Difficulty Breathing
It’s very easy to tell if your dog is having difficulty breathing, as the most common signs include: breathing with an open mouth, constantly panting, noisy breathing. If any of these indicators matches your doggie’s behaviour, they may have been struggling due to a serious viral disease for quite some time now.
Dogs are very active animals, and if your pooch is starting to feel lethargic and seems to be lacking energy, then they may be experiencing weakness.
Due to the fact that Dog Distemper attacks the Central Nervous System, your dog may struggle with coordination and end up falling down more often.
Paralysis is the loss of muscle function and the inability to use the muscle.
The first symptoms will reflect issues in the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, ranging from diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. However, the precursor to all of these issues is usually a fever, which should be the first sign that you need to pay a visit to the vet. In some cases, when the Distemper goes past the acute stage, the viral disease will begin attacking the central nervous system, which can cause alarming health effects that may lead to death.
Some of these include weakness, stumbling, and paralysis. You will start to notice your pooch becoming less active, constantly down, and appearing weak. This could further lead to discoordination of the muscles and frequent stumbling because of the attack on the Central Nervous System. Lastly, the worst effect is paralysis, which can either be partial or full, severely damaging your dog’s health and wellness when not treated by a professional.
Treatment of Dog Distemper
Unfortunately, there doesn’t exist any medicine that can directly cure Dog Distemper. The best your veterinarian can offer is supportive care and treatment of the different symptoms of the disease in order to prevent any further complications. Your veterinarian might also suggest that your dog be hospitalized, so as to prevent any secondary infection or illness by means of careful monitoring and treatment.
Supportive care will include a combination of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and several different medications meant to alleviate pain and help the dog’s body fight the disease.
Prevention of Dog Distemper
As mentioned before, the reason why Dog Distemper is not as prevalent today as it was before is because of the widespread use of vaccinations that safeguard the dogs’ health and wellness. For that matter, the best way of preventing Dog Distemper from ever reaching your pooch is to make sure that they get a complete vaccination while their bodies are still developing. Ensure that your puppy receives a series of shots when they are around six to eight weeks old, and begin the process of protecting your dog from diseases like Dog Distemper.
What to Do at Home?
Now that you are aware of the dangers of Dog Distemper, let us find out what you can do at home to keep your dog safe and prevent the disease from ever spreading:
1. Visit Your Veterinarian
The first thing on your list should be to carry your dog to your car and head straight to the veterinarian for a check-up. No matter how much information we provide you with, seeking the expert help of a professional who can personally diagnose and assess your dog’s condition is invaluable. By doing so, you will receive advice and be prescribed medicines that can truly help alleviate the condition. You will also feel much safer knowing that an expert is aware of what your dog is going through and has the possibility to guide you through the healing process. Likewise, if the conditions are severe, then with the help of a veterinarian your dog can easily be monitored and get the help they need.
2. Isolate Your Dog
If your veterinarian has given you the okay signal to bring your pooch back home to recover with the help of antibiotics and other forms of supportive care, you should isolate your dog. Dog Distemper is a viral disease that can easily spread through direct contact and airborne exposure. So, if you have any other dogs back at home, then they are at a huge risk of contracting the disease as well.
If you have other dogs, we advise that you also have them checked by your veterinarian for any potential risk of getting Dog Distemper.
3. Clean Your Home
Since Dog Distemper is highly contagious, the disease can easily stick onto your home and be a risk not only for other dogs, but also for people. While the distemper virus does not survive very long outside the body, it is better to be safe rather than take any chances. Given the weak nature of the virus, all you need to do is make a habit out of routinely cleaning your home to ensure that everyone is safe.
Dog Distemper: In a nutshell
To sum it all up, Dog Distemper is an extremely dangerous viral disease that can affect your dog and should not be taken lightly. It can cause minor problems, ranging from fevers to diarrhea, but also has the potential to paralyze your dog or worse yet, be fatal. Currently, there aren’t any existing medicines or drugs that a dog can take to cure distemper, which is why you should be a responsible pet-owner and get your dog vaccinated in time. Prevention is better than cure, and in this case, where no cure is present, prevention should be your top priority.
Furthermore, due to the highly contagious nature of the virus that causes Dog Distemper, you should always be alert and take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading to your other dogs. First and foremost, you should always consult a professional and head straight to the veterinarian to get your dog assessed and diagnosed. Second, when bringing your dog home, make sure to isolate them to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading. Lastly, make it a habit to routinely clean your home with disinfectant in order to remove any traces of the virus that may be still lurking around.
We hope you learned something important and are now more knowledgeable with regards to your dog’s health and wellness. It would be great if you also raised awareness and shared this to help out other dog-lovers and pet-owners become aware of Dog Distemper.