Dogs are known for their loyalty and love, but like all animals, they can also be provoked into aggression. However, when the trigger is gone yet the aggressive behavior persists, it can be a sign of distemper. Read on to better understand aggression caused by distemper and other dog distemper symptoms.
Understanding Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral illness that can cause serious health problems in dogs. It is common in dogs aged two to six months but can also occur in older dogs. Canine distemper may affect all kinds and sizes of dogs, including purebreds and mixed breeds.
Such illness is caused by a virus that spreads easily between dogs by physical contact with a dog’s contaminated urine, feces, breath, or other secretions. Infected dogs can spread the disease by sneezing, coughing, or barking. Once infected, the disease affects the dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems and the eyes. In most cases, symptoms of canine distemper are mild and can be treated at home. However, in some cases, the disease can be fatal.
Know Dog Distemper Symptoms
Dog distemper symptoms vary based on the age and sex of the affected dog as well as the severity of the infection. The following are some of the most common symptoms of canine distemper:
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Nose and eye discharge
- Difficulty breathing
In worse cases, dog distemper symptoms may also include involuntary eye movements, paralysis, and seizures. The dog may also appear depressed or lethargic. In some cases, the dog may develop tremors and lose its voice.
Does Distemper Cause Aggression in Dogs?
Yes, dogs infected with canine distemper can become aggressive toward other animals or humans. It is one of the neurological dog distemper symptoms that may indicate brain inflammation caused by the virus. Other related symptoms may include circling, excessive licking, shaking of the head, and tail-chasing. These behaviors may make it difficult for the dog to focus and be calm and relaxed. As a result, the dog may become more anxious and aggressive as the virus progresses. They may also be mistaken for other infections, such as rabies.
Visiting the Vet for Canine Distemper
If you notice any symptoms of canine distemper in your dog, it is crucial to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. This will help prevent further complications and ensure that your dog receives prompt treatment. This will also help you take necessary precautions immediately to prevent the virus from spreading to other dogs or pets. You should also visit the vet if your dog has come into contact with a distemper-infected animal or if there has been a recent outbreak of canine distemper in your area.
Moreover, once your puppy is old enough for vaccinations, vaccinate them against canine distemper and other common dog diseases. Most veterinary clinics offer regular vaccination schedules to protect against infectious diseases. Your vet can also recommend the best dog vaccines based on your pet’s age, lifestyle, breed, and health history.
Ultimately, taking proper care of your dog will help reduce the risk of contracting canine distemper and other preventable diseases.
Diagnosing Canine Distemper
To diagnose canine distemper, your veterinarian will take a thorough history and examination of the pet. Tests may include a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemistry. A chest X-ray may be taken to rule out other causes of coughing and sneezing. The viral nature of the disease may make routine diagnostic tests inconclusive, so the veterinarian may do a spinal tap to test for the virus. This is usually done when other tests do not provide a precise diagnosis. The virus can also be detected in tissues or fluids such as sputum, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood. Finally, antibody testing may also be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
It is essential to rule out other conditions that mimic the symptoms of canine distemper, such as kennel cough and heartworm infection. Your veterinarian may also recommend diagnostic testing for other diseases based on your pet’s breed or medical history.
Caring for Dogs with Distemper
Ideally, dogs with canine distemper should be isolated in a quiet, comfortable environment away from other animals that can spread the disease. They should be kept warm but not overheated. Supportive care is vital in ensuring the dog is comfortable and has access to food and water. Provide plenty of soft bedding and offer gentle encouragement for your dog to drink plenty of water.
If your dog is not eating well, ask your veterinarian if your dog needs nutritional supplements or medicine to encourage him to eat. If required, your vet may recommend giving subcutaneous fluids to help replenish lost fluids. Your infected dog may also need to take antibiotics and other medications. Your veterinarian may also prescribe antiviral medication to control the progression of the disease.
Closely monitor your dog’s health so you can provide prescribed treatment for symptoms as they arise.