Canine Distemper is a very prevalent, highly contagious disease of dogs caused by a virus. The virus may be spread by contact with mucous and watery secretions discharged from the eyes and noses of infected dogs. Infection may also occur from exposure to urine, fecal material, and through the air.
- Congestion of the Eyes
- Eye Discharges
- Weight Loss
- Nasal Discharge
- Poor Appetite
- Diarrhea Sometimes May Occur
Many dogs that do survive the initial disease will suffer permanent damage to the nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Partial or total paralysis may often result. Seizures often occur which become more Frequent and severe as the disease progresses. Most dogs that develop these signs must be euthanized. Cats are not susceptible to Canine Distemper. The so-called “Cat Distemper” is a different disease caused by a different virus.
Treatment is very difficult since the cause is a virus. There are currently NO drugs available to kill the virus, just as there are no drugs to kill most of the viruses affecting people. Drugs are used to strengthen the pup’s body to help it fight the virus. Antibiotics are given to prevent secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia.
Recovery often takes 6-8 weeks before it can be assumed the dog will not be left with any of the permanent damage affecting the brain. Many dogs appear to respond very well to the initial medications, but then later develop seizures or twitches.