Pets are an integral part of the family, and their well being is of equal importance to the homemaker as that of any other family member. This articles discusses the causes and symptoms of Distemper - a dreaded disease in canines. Read further to learn how to protect your dog from Distemper.
|Photo: Microsoft photo image|
Years ago, when my friend's puppy died of distemper, I didn't know much about this disease. But, when the same disease claimed another two puppies, I was curious.
Distemper is a multi-systemic viral disease. It is caused by a type of virus belonging to the paramyxovirus group of viruses. It affects dogs as well as other animals; is highly contagious and sometimes fatal. Extensive distemper vaccination in many regions, have helped diminish its incidence. However, distemper cases are still seen now and again.
Causes of Distemper
The distemper virus is spread through the air by exhaling or sneezing. Animals usually get infected by direct contact with such virus particles or via inhalation. Indirect transmission (i.e. via contaminated objects) is not common because the virus does not survive for long in the environment. It is important to remember that the virus can even be shed by dogs for several weeks after recovery.
Puppies below four months of age and unvaccinated dogs are more at risk. Young puppies are the most likely to die if they contract distemper, while older dogs that get infected develop mild cases. Hence, it is important to consult your vet at the earliest to vaccinate puppies against distemper.
Signs and Symptoms of Distemper
|Photo: Microsoft photo image|
The symptoms of distemper and the course of the disease can be variable. Any of the following symptoms may be seen in an infected dog.
- secondary bacterial pneumonia
- inflammation of the intestines
- appetite loss
- diarrhea and vomiting
- breathing may be labored
- discharge from eyes and nose
- hardening of footpads and nose
- secondary bacterial infections
- neurological symptoms are variable
Neurological symptoms may even develop in the later stages of the disease and may include seizures, paralysis, twitching muscles or uncoordinated movements.
The diagnosis is complicated since it is based mainly on the clinical signs which are variable and take time to appear. To make matters worse, several other infections produce the same signs as distemper. Hence, laboratory tests such as fluorescent antibody techniques, polymerase chain reaction, virus isolation and ELISA are required to be performed in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Distemper can be prevented through proper vaccination. It is wise to meet a Vet and discuss an appropriate vaccination schedule for your dog. In the meanwhile, it would be wise to avoid possible exposure to the virus by preventing exposure of puppies to unknown/stray dogs until they have received all the vaccinations in the series.
Have you ever lost a pet to distemper? Or do you know anyone who has? Be sure to share this with them. I hope they will find it informative.