Preventing and spotting distemper in dogs

Posted by Dr Dog. November 26th 2015.

What is distemper in dogs?

Distemper is a type of virus that is similar to measles in humans.

It can start with relatively harmless-looking symptoms such as sneezing or an increased in temperature. Dogs may also experience discharge from the eyes and vomiting.

The nose and footpads of younger dogs may become firmer, which is where the infection gets its nickname – “hardpad disease”.

The problem can develop into pneumonia and become fatal. Because the virus is transmitted through the air, it is highly contagious.

Even dogs who recover can suffer long-term affects, such as poor vision.

Distemper treatment

If you are worried that your dog has distemper, seek a vet’s advice immediately.

Any dog feared to have distemper should be quarantined, due to the contagious characteristics of the virus.

The vet will carry out some tests and it may be that your dog has to stay as an impatient to receive supportive care.

Your dog may need intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and anti-seizure medication if any neurological problems are spotted.

It can take several weeks to recover from distemper and further medication at home may be required.

Unfortunately, if your dog survived distemper as a puppy, it may be that the disease lies dormant and could affect your pet again.

Some believe that all older dogs are immune to distemper but this is not the case – some will still be susceptible.

Dogs of all ages should undergo regular examinations


Distemper vaccination

Prevention, as always, is better than cure and the good news is that the vaccination for distemper is effective.

Vaccination should be administered as a puppy, first at six to eight weeks and then again after nine weeks. After puppies have had two vaccinations, they are regarded as immune.

The vaccine has been widely used for many years and does a great job of cutting the risk of your animal becoming affected, with minimal side affects.

Because some older dogs do not develop immunity, the vaccine should be boosted throughout his or her life.

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