Distemper in dogs is a very serious disease caused by a contagious virus that attacks the nervous system, respiratory, or gastrointestinal tract. Animals in the wild can be carriers of the disease and act as a source of infection. If your dog encounters one of these wild animals, infections can occur.
Characterized by thick nasal and watery-eye discharge, dogs with distemper often feel ill. In addition, distemper in dogs often decreases appetite, induces vomiting or diarrhea, causes fever, and in many cases displays neurological signs resembling rabies.
Why are dogs at risk for distemper?
Unvaccinated puppies and dogs are most at risk for distemper in dogs, especially stray dogs and young dogs not old enough to complete the vaccine series. Commonly seen in dog shelters, distemper is an airborne disease. Since so many dogs live in close quarters, active methods of spread such as sneezing and coughing are harmful.
Rumors of distemper in dogs suggest that the disease has been eradicated. However, this notion has been proven a myth. If you suspect that risks are in your area it’s best to be safe. Consult your veterinarian and get their recommendation for a vaccine schedule if necessary.
Is there a cure for distemper in dogs?
There is no cure for distemper in dogs and sadly, many dogs with distemper die. If your dog has distemper, it’s not a death sentence and your veterinarian can treat your dog. Your dog’s immune system will fight the disease naturally, but support is necessary. Do everything you can to avoid distemper in your dog. Most dogs that survive the disease suffer from permanent neurological damage.
Our most formidable defense against distemper in dogs is the vaccination. It’s very effective when administered correctly, so make sure to have your puppies vaccinated. Furthermore, minimize your dog’s exposure to wildlife.
Prevention will always be our best defense. Keeping your dog current on his vaccinations can spare him a great deal of pain, and even save his life.