Along with canine diabetes, canine distemper is one of the most worrisome diseases your furry friend may have. The canine distemper virus (CDV) is highly infectious, disrupting the everyday lives of your dogs up to a fatal extent.
The disease comes from a virus that attacks dogs’ respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological systems. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry so much since we’ll provide the answers as to why distemper isn’t a death sentence.
What Causes Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a resulting disease that comes from the paramyxovirus. It usually spreads through infected secretions and excretions.
Dogs who are infected by this disease often spread the virus through coughing and sneezing, and uninfected pups may get the virus through infected urine, blood, saliva, mucus, and ocular discharge.
Coughing and sneezing produce respiratory droplets and feces, urine, blood, saliva, mucus, and ocular discharge. Dogs can pick it up from contaminated objects such as toys, food, and water bowls.
Can Canine Distemper Be Fatal?
Yes, distemper can be fatal and it frequently is. Because of their underdeveloped immune systems, adult dogs have a 50% mortality rate, and puppies have an 80% mortality rate.
Death rates are significant due to delayed diagnosis because symptoms don’t present for a week or more. Dogs can survive if diagnosed early enough before conditions worsen.
About 2 to 4 weeks after infection, dogs might reach the fatal stage of distemper. Older canines with a more developed immune system may be able to survive for several months.
When the illness targets the nervous system near the end of life, dogs experience seizures, paralysis, and hysteria. Most canines die within days after having a compromised nervous system.
Why Distemper Isn’t A Death Sentence
If you detect distemper, getting an urgent diagnosis from a veterinarian can mean the decision between life and death. This is why distemper isn’t a death sentence.
Whether you choose a traditional veterinary therapy or a natural method, you should be aware that there are no efficient medications to treat the distemper virus.
Whether commonly available or holistic, distemper treatment requires the dog’s condition to be monitored by a veterinarian as soon as diagnosed. In many cases, the owner will need to admit the dog to the hospital.
Veterinarians must react to changes in the dog’s body and how the virus progresses. They must prevent drug combinations and keep an eye on them for any secondary health problems. Dogs also require separation from other animals in a clean environment.
What Are The Symptoms Of Canine Distemper?
Learning the symptoms of canine distemper will prevent you from asking “why distemper isn’t a death sentence” in the first place.
If the owner suspects that the disease has infected their dog, they must look for signs and symptoms and treatment should begin right away.
The distemper virus usually infects dogs in three phases. It takes a few days to a week for each stage to appear, which could cause a delay in diagnosis and life-saving treatment. Each stage manifests itself in a distinct set of symptoms.
Stage 1 Canine Distemper
Coughing, sneezing, fever, and drainage from the eyes and nose are all indications of distemper. The owner or veterinarian may believe it’s kennel cough or another respiratory ailment.
Here are the other indicators in this stage:
- Thick nasal discharge
- Redness in the eyes
- Pus-like discharge from eyes
Stage 2 Canine Distemper
Your dog will appear to have a digestive upset with vomiting and diarrhea once the coughing symptoms have passed. He might appear to be improving after this, but the virus is constantly spreading, resulting in new infections and symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Change in breathing rate
- Loss of appetite
- Discharge from the nose
Stage 3 Canine Distemper
A week or two after their early respiratory symptoms, dogs can develop neurological disorders like spasms, chewing movements in the jaw, head tilts, seizures, and even partial or total paralysis. This is where the owner or veterinarian confirms that the dog is suffering from distemper.
Because Stage 3 Distemper targets the central nervous system, earlier symptoms worsen and new ones emerge:
- Repetitive eye movements
- Severe conjunctivitis
- Head tilt
- Partial or full paralysis
- Heavy yellow mucus from the nose
- Muscle twitching
- Increased salivation and chewing motions
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Bad smelling diarrhea
- Skin eruptions on the belly or hind legs
How Do Veterinarians Detect Distemper
It can take a long time to limit the diagnosis to distemper because it involves multiple symptoms and bodily functions. The diagnosis contains the techniques and tests listed below.
- Blood tests to check red and white blood cell counts
- Tests for organ function
- A detailed history of your dog
- A comprehensive exam
- Chest x-ray to confirm pneumonia if suspected
If veterinarians detect distemper, they may suggest one of these tests.
A PCR test is appropriate for dogs who have never had distemper (or received distemper immunization). Blood and urine tests and an eye swab are used (called a conjunctival sample). However, it will not discriminate between a dog with a distemper and a vaccinated one.
Another, more definitive test became available in February 2017. The CDV Quant RealPCR Test determines the presence of the vaccination strain.
This helps researchers to distinguish between the distemper vaccine and the disease itself.
Only the first three weeks after infection are favorable for the IFA test. This is an issue since the owner frequently overlooks distemper until neurological symptoms arise, taking up to three weeks.
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