What is distemper in dogs and how to identify it?

Home » News » What is distemper in dogs and how to identify it?

Those of us who have a dog at home know that he is not only a companion animal, but also a full member of the family . So it’s normal to worry about their health and not want them to get sick or catch a serious virus that could be life-threatening before they’ve even been vaccinated.

One of the most serious and dangerous diseases that particularly affects puppies is distemper . But what is distemper in dogs? It is a disease similar to human measles , highly contagious and with a high mortality rate, especially in unvaccinated dogs. It generally attacks the digestive system, the respiratory system and even the central nervous system.

What is distemper?

Distemper is a disease that usually affects young dogs in the first few months of life, but can also occur in adulthood. Today, thanks to vaccinations, it is no longer as frequent, but unfortunately it is not yet eradicated, which means that there is still a risk of infection .

The most common mode of transmission is by inhalation of airborne virus particles . However, it can also be transmitted through direct contact with the fluids of other infected animals , including food and water. Therefore, if you plan to leave your puppy in a dog boarding facility before having him vaccinated, make sure that the person taking care of him does not have other animals in his home that could infect your puppy.

Symptoms of Distemper in Dogs

Fever, poor appetite, weight loss, listlessness, watery or pus-filled nasal discharge, diarrhea, vomiting , dehydration, cough, difficulty breathing , hardening of the paw pads , pustules and rashes, red eyes, conjunctivitis, muscle twitching, seizures , head tilt and jaw movement are some of the most common symptoms dogs infected with distemper can exhibit.

The most obvious symptoms are cough and runny nose , which also cause discharge from the eyes as well as swelling of the eyelids, preventing them from opening their eyes easily. In addition, dermatitis is common, especially around the nose, as are paw pads that harden or even crack and peel.

However, the most dangerous symptoms are undoubtedly those related to the nervous system . Indeed, they indicate that the disease is very advanced: convulsions, muscle spasms and nervous tics that can paralyze some of his limbs.

Distemper in Adult Dogs

Although distemper is a disease that primarily affects puppies, it is also common in unvaccinated adult dogs and senior dogs . Animals with a weakened immune system due to another disease, stress or age are most often affected.

Distemper in Puppies

Distemper is the leading cause of death in puppies, so it’s important to vaccinate dogs between 6 and 12 weeks of age . Until this age, they are protected by the antibodies provided by their mother’s milk. In addition, it is advisable to administer a booster dose every year, Says Patterjack website.

How to treat distemper in dogs?

When you bring a puppy home, it is essential to protect it as much as possible, avoiding at all costs that it goes outside before being vaccinated. However, if for some reason they need to be taken outside, it is essential to be alert for any physical signs or strange behavior and to take them to the vet to carry out the necessary tests to confirm such diagnosis . Keep in mind that in these cases, time is money. Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can eliminate the virus., vaccination is therefore essential to prevent this disease. However, if your dog has been infected with distemper, you should keep in mind that he may suffer damage or sequelae to the nervous system, such as involuntary movements, secondary bacterial infections, dehydration , vomiting and diarrhoea. However, certain medications can help lessen the effects .

Wanda B. Hewlett

Wanda B. Hewlett (Contributor) is a freelance writer from the UK. When she’s not busy writing she loves to spend her time traveling, exploring and running.

Scroll to Top