Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Distemper in Dogs- Cause, Symptoms and Treatment of Canine Distemper

What is Canine Distemper?
Canine Distemper is a very contagious, popular disease which is often fatal. It is a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, along with gastrointestinal and central nervous systems, along with the conjunctival membranes of the eye. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in dogs, while in the United States it occurs only sporadically. Though its incidence has diminished greatly caused by vaccination, distemper cases and outbreaks are still found sporadically.
Cause of Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus. This virus mayinfect several other species including ferrets and wild animals like coyotes, foxes or wolves, skunks and raccoons. Animals often become infected by primary contact with virus particles from the secretions of other infected animals (typically via inhalation). Indirect transmission (ie., carried on food or other objects) isn't popular because the virus will not survive for long in the environment. The virus is usually shed by dogs for several weeks after recovery.
Symptoms of Canine Distemper
In the initial stages of Canine Distemper, the major symptoms include high fever (103 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or 39 to 41C), reddened eyes and a watery discharge from the nose or eyes. An infected dog becomes lethargic and tired, and in most cases become anorexic. Persistent coughing and vomiting or diarrhea can also occur. In the later stages of the disease, the virus begins attacking the other systems of the dog’s body, especially the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord might be affected and the dog can begin having fits, seizures or paralysis and attacks of hysteria.
Symptoms may be include:
Canine Distemper
+Fever 39C to 41C (103 to106 degrees Fahrenheit)
+Loss of appetite
+Nasal discharge                                
+Eye infection
Other symptoms: Nerve Symptoms of dog distemper include:
+Muscle twitching
+Deterioration of mental abilities
+Loss of motor skills
+Complete or partial paralysis
+Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, like pain or touch (Hyperesthesia)
A fever is sometimes the initial symptom but will go unnoticed. Symptoms become much more severe and noticeable as the disease progresses. Canine distemper is sometimes also know as “hard pad disease” because certain strains of the virus can cause an abnormal enlargement or thickening of the pads of an animal’s feet. In dogs with weak immune systems, death may result 2 to 4 weeks after the initial infection.
Treatment for Canine Distemper
Unfortunately, there is no treatment specific to the distemper virus, so treatment include managing the various symptoms and secondary infections. If the dog has become anorexic or has diarrhea, intravenous supportive fluids might be given. Discharge from the eyes and nose need to be cleaned away regularly. Antibiotics might be prescribed to control the symptoms caused by a secondary infection, and phenobarbitals and potassium bromide may be needed to control convulsions and seizures.
There is no specific treatment for canine distemper, though supportive therapy in the form of intravenous fluids are often given to correct the fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhoea. The most effective form of protection against this virus is by way of vaccination. You are pleased to know that there are some vaccines that offer a duration of immunity of three years, meaning your dog is protected for a full three years.
Photo credit: thehydrantblog.com

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