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What every Dog owner needs to know about Canine Distemper Virus

Updated: May 24, 2022

As a Dog owner, you must be aware of one of the most severe diseases in Canine, i.e. Canine distemper virus (CDV). The term Distemper in Dogs should not be a surprise for you if you are up to date on your dog’s vaccination routine. This is an airborne contagious disease in dogs and can be lethal if not prevented or treated in time. In this blog, I will share important information about Distemper Virus in Dogs and how you can protect your Dog from it.

Just like a human flu virus, distemper in dogs can spread when in direct contact or through airborne exposure. The virus transmission occurs from direct contact with infected saliva, respiratory secretions, urine, or feces. Dear reader, if you have more than one Dog in your household or are connected to a Dog boarding facility, please ensure you have an isolated room for your infected pet. You do not want the virus to spread from one pooch to another.

Canine distemper virus can cause gastrointestinal illness, thickening of the nose and footpads, and a neurologic phase that has symptoms like rabies and can be difficult to distinguish as a result. Dogs can shed up to 2 weeks after they recover.

With no cure discovered yet, only supportive care can be offered by vets. So as Dog owners, you must give absolute importance to preventative measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Please remember that this virus is nearly 100% fatal for mustelids.

Here are some common FAQs for new Dog owners.

What Are the General Symptoms of Canine Distemper?

A few common and easily noticeable symptoms are;

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Thick mucus discharge from the eyes and nose

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

However, a professional routine vet check is always advisable.

How Do Dogs Get Canine Distemper?

Since this is a contact and airborne disease, there are many ways for your pooch to get infected. The virus can transmit from one infected Dog to another through direct contact with fresh urine, feces, or saliva. Apart from sneezing, sharing food and water bowls of infected pets with other healthy pets will also put them at risk.

When Is it Time to See the Vet?

There’s no other way of saying that. Immediately!

If your Dog is showing symptoms or has been in contact with an infected pet, please make a vet appointment immediately. The virus spreads rapidly and must be aggressively treated as soon as it's discovered.

How Is Canine Distemper Diagnosed?

As a routine check, the vet will do Vaccicheck testing to ensure your pet is immunized and the prior vaccine has developed the right antibody. For pets with symptoms, canine distemper tests are performed. However, there is a possibility of a false-negative result.

Positive results can help confirm an infection, but a dog can still be infected even if test results are negative. Hence the vet is required to diagnose the Dogs health and physical being.

How Can Canine Distemper Be Prevented?

Every dog owner needs to ensure their pet has received its yearly vaccines. As guided by the global veterinary association and regulated by the local government, all pets must be vaccinated. Puppies should be vaccinated by 6 to 8 weeks of their age. However, infant puppies may carry the antibodies from their mother at the time of birth. It is critical to keep puppies away from such or any infectious environment.

Another rule of the thumb should be to maintain a clean and disinfected environment at home or a boarding facility. Removing Biofilm from wall corners or the floor, fogging large areas, and using quality disinfection products can help prevent the virus.

How Can Canine Distemper Be Treated?

Even with advanced science and modern technology, there is no medication available to destroy the distemper virus. However, one can offer supportive care and implement preventative techniques to save your Dog from Canine Distemper Virus. Infected pets lose their appetite, and experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hence it is important to keep them hydrated and ensure the right nutrients are given through fluids. Some dogs can survive the infection, while some might not.

So, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, disinfect your pet’s living environment, and monitor their health periodically.

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