Distemper Could Lead to Pneumonia
The Canine Distemper Virus is a highly contagious, often fatal, viral disease that affects vulnerable dogs and puppies. Like any other illness, it causes the immune system to become weak, making infected canines more susceptible to developing secondary illnesses and infections. What makes Canine Distemper so dangerous is that it has three different stages that affect three different systems in the body, including the respiratory system. It causes respiratory issues, such as sneezing, coughing, nasal secretions, and in more severe cases, pneumonia.
Pneumonia is a condition that happens when the lungs become inflamed. The inflammation happens as a response to a foreign body that has made its way to the lungs, causing inflammatory cells and fluid to accumulate inside the organ, as well as the airways and other related biological structures.
What Causes Pneumonia in Dogs with Distemper?
Given their vulnerability, dogs with Distemper often fall victims to secondary viral, fungal, or in the case of pneumonia, bacterial infections. The two most common causes of pneumonia in dogs are the bacterial organisms Streptococcus zooepidemicus and Bordetella bronchiseptica. However, other bacteria that are capable of surviving without oxygen may also cause the condition to develop.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Pneumonia?
The symptoms of pneumonia closely resemble the early stages of Distemper. They include fever, cough, breathing difficulties, lethargy, lowered energy levels, dehydration, nasal discharge, and rapid breathing. In addition to having Distemper, your dog may be extra sluggish and easily tired. They may sleep more than usual and refuse to eat or drink. You may also notice them struggling to catch their breath. However, if they seem to be in extreme discomfort, it’s best to take them to the vet immediately.
How Is Pneumonia Diagnosed?
If you suspect that your dog has developed secondary pneumonia from Distemper, take them to the animal hospital right away. Your veterinarian will perform a few lab tests to confirm the presence of the respiratory problem. They may start with a tracheal wash, where a sample of the tracheal tissue is collected for analysis. Since most bacteria are too small to be seen clearly under the microscope, your veterinarian will need to culture the microorganisms to know what kind it is. They do this by swabbing a q-tip on your dog’s tissue sample and transferring it onto a small, circular container where the microorganisms can multiply. Your veterinarian may also need to do blood testing and urinalysis, as well as take an x-ray of your dog’s chest and lung cavity.
How Is Pneumonia Treated?
Since pneumonia has multiple causative agents and causes a variety of symptoms to appear, your dog’s treatment will also depend on those two things. For instance, once your veterinarian determines the culprit for your dog’s pneumonia, they’ll prescribe an antibiotic that’s effective against that specific pathogen.
On the other hand, if your dog is suffering from dehydration, fever, cough, anorexia, and excessive weight loss, then they may need to be hospitalized and receive supplemental fluids, as well as electrolytes. If your dog has trouble breathing, your veterinarian may suggest oxygen therapy to help them feel more comfortable throughout the healing process.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Developing Pneumonia?
The best way to make sure that your dog stays protected from pneumonia, whether or not they have Distemper, is through vaccination. If you have multiple pets in the household, then it’s important that you get all animals vaccinated against the condition. It’s also best to isolate your dog from other members of the household, as well as guests, while they’re recovering. This will prevent them from coming into contact with harmful pathogens that may have come from outside and at the same time, keep you, your family members, and friends, from spreading the Canine Distemper Virus to other locations.