Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects dogs, as well as other animals such as skunks, foxes, and raccoons. It’s caused by a virus in the family Paramyxoviridae and can result in serious symptoms, including respiratory problems, seizures, paralysis, and death. The virus is spread through contact with an infected animal’s body fluids, such as saliva and nasal discharge.

Distemper can be prevented by vaccinating your dog. Vaccines for Distemper are available and should be given according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper

The most common symptom of Distemper is a:

  • High fever
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Coughing

Other symptoms include:

  • Eye and nose discharge
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors
  • Death in some cases

Diagnosing Canine Distemper

Diagnosing Distemper is typically done through a combination of physical examination, laboratory testing, and imaging. During a physical examination, your veterinarian will look for signs of respiratory distress, fever, coughing, or other symptoms associated with Distemper. 

To confirm the diagnosis, your veterinarian can order blood tests or other laboratory tests to identify antibodies present in the dog’s system that are specific to Distemper. Imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs, can also be used to help diagnose their condition.

Stages of Canine Distemper

Distemper is generally split into three stages: the Prodromal Stage, the Acute Stage, and the Recovery Stage.

Prodromal Stage:

During the Prodromal Stage, a dog can have symptoms of fever, coughing, and appetite loss.

Acute Stage:

During the Acute Stage, symptoms such as seizures, paralysis, and other neurological issues can develop.

Recovery Stage:

The Recovery Stage occurs when a dog’s immune system has fought off the virus and the symptoms have begun to subside.

Treating Canine Distemper

Treating Distemper is typically supportive in nature, because the virus can’t be cured. Treatment can involve fluid therapy, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, anti-seizure medications, and other therapies to help relieve symptoms and give them comfort. Your veterinarian could recommend a course of drugs to help reduce inflammation caused by the virus.

Preventing Canine Distemper

The best way to prevent Distemper is to have your dog vaccinated. Vaccines for Distemper are available and should be given according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll want to avoid contact with wild animals, because they could carry the virus. It’s also important to keep your dog away from other dogs that could be infected, because the virus can spread quickly between animals.