If your dog goes outside at any time then it should be vaccinated against Canine Distemper along with parvovirus and adenovirus and possibly a few others depending on your lifestyle. Canine Distemper is part of your pet’s regular vaccine regime and is not required by law but is still very important. There is a lot of wildlife around and our pets are at risk. This virus is in the same family as human measles but we are not affected by it.
Transmission occurs through coughing and is also shed in other body secretions such as urine. It is transmitted through mucous membranes either directly or is shed in the environment and contagious for less than 30 minutes at 60 Ferinheight or 3 hours at room temperature. This virus can also survive for years if frozen and protected from light.
The first stage of this disease is the mucosal stage which produces gooey eyes and nasal discharge, then there is a fever which is not usually noticed along with poor appetite and coughing which develops into pneumonia. The disease then moves on to the gastrointestinal tract and produces vomiting and diarrhea and can also cause callusing of the nose and foot pads. It then attacks the Central nervous system and causes seizures which starts with snapping or tremors of the jaw before progressing to full body tremors, imbalance, limb weakness and maybe death. Recovery can occur with intensive medical intervention, but the road to recovery may be elusive. Dogs may appear to recover then show neurological signs 1-3 weeks later. Younger dogs, puppies and dogs with weak immunity often die during the mucosal phase while the stronger ones may have mild mucosal signs and not appear to be sick until the neurological phase begins.
The best way to prevent this disease is to vaccinate your puppies and your adult dogs – prevention is far better than the cure.
Written by Laurie Box