Distemper, the basics

Canine distemper is popularly referred to as a disease in dogs that is extremely communicable. Its vector is a virus that goes by the name paramyxovirus. It causes the disease by attacking three important body systems of the dog: These are the nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal system. Canine distemper is not necessarily seen in dogs alone. Research has shown that the ailment is also readily evident in carnivores, mink, foxes and ferrets. As a matter of fact, it has been suggested that these animal are actually the original hosts for the paramyxovirus which is responsible for canine distemper in dogs. However, unlike the parvovirus, the virus responsible for canine distemper cannot survive in extreme temperatures; thus making it more manageable and controllable.

It is still capable of functioning properly at normal room temperature; as long as the body infected is living within this temperature range and still has resources and food in its body, it will always continue to live. However, exposure to UV rays in the sun or temperatures above 33°C will kill it off in an instant. This is the reason it thrives very well in the internal organs in the dog’s body. Because of its nature, the medium for spreading is through the secretions in the body and as cysts in the air. When airborne like this, the other dogs inhale the cysts and become infected immediately. It takes quite a while though for the symptoms to become evident and treatment doesn’t guarantee that it has been wiped out. This is why it is good that even after obvious signs of recovery, it is good to still keep the dog quarantined and away from other dogs.

Signs and Symptoms

Dogs often do not show the symptoms immediately after they are infected. It takes a period of time during which the virus proliferates and establishes itself in the body. However, a few days after infection, it starts becoming evident as the dog develops sore throat, runny nose and watery eyes. This is followed closely by an increase in body temperature, diarrhea and enlarged tonsils. In a month, the virus would have infected the brain causing the dog to have twitches followed by convulsions. At this point, there is no remedy. To spare the dog a lot of pain, the dog would have to be euthanized

Preventive Measures

It is better for the dog to be treated to prevent from getting infected at all, as there is – as of the time this article was written – no cure for canine distemper. To prevent the dog from getting infected, get the dog vaccinated at an early stage, preferably when it is about 6 weeks old. The vaccination should be repeated per the schedule given to you by your vet until the dog is one year and four months. Avoid areas that have had infected dogs. Lastly, make sure that your dog does not have any form of contact with wild animals like foxes and raccoons.