By Brent A. McCoy
Distemper in dogs is a variety of disease that can infect puppies and make them seriously ill. It was once highly deadly and killed over half the dogs that developed the disease before a vaccine was developed. Understanding how to prevent or treat distemper if you need to will be advantageous in that you stand a much greater chance of your puppy surviving the illness. The most important thing that you need to watch out for is vaccinating your puppy for the distemper virus. This article looks at the top 10 things you need to be aware of about distemper.
1. Though the success of vaccinations is for the most part shown with distemper you shouldn’t be mistaken. Puppies who are not vaccinated for it are still at risk as it’s a highly deadly disease.
2. Each dog has varying levels of immunity to the disease, and even though they might come into contact with it, it can have little to no effect. The ones who display symptoms and catch the disease are a very small amount.
3. Distemper is a virus that enters the body and spreads to the lymph nodes where it kills the cells that provide viral defense. The virus is then allowed to spread throughout the body due to a weakened immune system.
4. There can be different symptoms and different effects depending on where it spreads. It can cause pneumonia once it gets to the lungs, dehydration or diarrhea in the intestines and paralysis or seizures in the brain.
5. At its worse stage distemper can kill a puppy or become so bad that they must be put to sleep. Vaccinations are vital to protect your puppy from the disease for this reason. With these, you’ll find that distemper rarely causes a serious problem.
6. Distemper is highly contagious. It is passed on through a dog’s sneezes or breathing most of the time. It can live on surfaces like a dog’s bowl or toy and be passed on through these.
7. It takes a while for a dog to develop symptoms after catching the disease. 6 to 9 days is the incubation period for the disease. The stages of the disease progress and get more severe after this.
8. Fever is the first symptom dogs will show. After a week they may experience a loss of appetite or energy and in more time the eyes can become sticky. As the disease gets worse they can show other symptoms like coughing, weight loss, nose discharges or skin eruptions but these vary between dogs.
9. Things get very bad for a dog when the disease reaches the brain, which is about after 3 weeks. This is when they experience the worst symptoms such as seizures, paralysis or encephalitis.
10. Getting your puppy vaccinated is the easiest way to avoid the disease. If they do get infected, usually they will be treated with antibiotics but there are natural remedies you can also try to help strengthen the dog’s immune system and overcome the disease.