Canine distemper is mostly observed in puppies in the age group of three to six months. However, adult dogs that are not immunized within a particular time can also catch this viral disease. The pets inflicted with this disease generally fall sick after three to six days. This virus shares the paramyxovirus group, with the virus causing measles in human beings. Distemper viruses are sensitive to heat and sunlight. The virus is mainly transmitted by aerosol droplets through coughing, sneezing and saliva of the infected dogs. The virus starts affecting the white blood cells in the body, and then it penetrates the lymphatic tissues and subsequently, to the surfaces of lung, intestine, bladder and lastly attacks the nervous system.
During the 1940s, vaccines were first made to treat this disease. Later in 1960s, advanced form of live virus vaccines took the place of previously made vaccines. These vaccines have proved to be beneficial for the treatment of this medical condition in household pets. Giving vaccination in time to your pets can prevent the disease to occur. Six to eight week old puppies are given vaccination to prevent this deadly virus infection. The dosage of the vaccines should be administered at two to four weeks interval, until your pet reaches the age of 14-16 weeks. After one year, follow it up with a booster dose of vaccines. Then consult a vet to find out the timings and dosage for the vaccine.
The symptoms are seen after few days, after the dog gets the viral infection. The symptoms start with the fever and can worsen with paralysis or death of the dog, if not treated in time. The symptoms can be seen eighteen days, after the infection. The primary symptoms include high fever that can reach up to 102 degrees Celsius. This is accompanied with watering of the nose and reddening of the eyes. Other common symptoms that are observed are water loss from the body, vomiting, respiratory troubles, excessive drooping with loss of appetite. Apart from gastrointestinal and breathing symptoms, this viral disease also affects the brain. The neurological symptoms being involuntary muscle spasms and your dog may also show sensitiveness towards light and poor muscle coordination.
Treatment for distemper involves keeping the dog in a clean surroundings, where there is no disturbances. Feed the dog with the help of a medical syringe, as it loses appetite and does not feel like eating, during this infection, and follow it with these subsequent treatments.
Treating the Fever: Anti-inflammatory medicines are given first. This helps to diminish the elevated body temperature. Drugs like paracetamol are mostly prescribed by the doctor.
Treating Secondary Bacterial Infections: In order to prevent bacterial infections like pneumonia, antibiotics are given in the dose of intravenous fluids. In addition to it, antispasmodic drugs are administered to treat diarrhea.
Treating Dehydration: Vomiting by the dog leads to excessive water loss from the body. This is prevented by giving extraneous electrolytic fluids, as this helps increase the fluid content in the body. In this condition, it is difficult to feed the dog orally.
Boosting the Immune System: Properly feeding the dog with a nutritious diet helps improve the immune system of your pet. Distemper can cause other health problems like seizures in dogs.
If you find your dog is infected with the disease, then keep him quarantined and isolated from other dogs. It is advisable to take your pet to a vet for early treatment. A timely canine distemper treatment can help your pet recover from the infection fast. One way to care for your pet's health, is to look out for any behavioral changes in him.