By Brent A. McCoy
Distemper in dogs is a kind 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. Knowing how to prevent or treat distemper in the worst case scenario will be beneficial in that the chances of your puppy surviving are significantly greater. The critical thing that you need to be watchful of is vaccinating your puppy for the distemper virus. Here are the top 10 things you should understand about distemper.
1. Though the success of vaccinations is for the most part shown with distemper you shouldn’t be mistaken. It is still a highly deadly disease and very much still a health risk to young puppies that are not vaccinated for it.
2. Nearly all dogs come into contact with the virus at some stage or another, but because each has varying levels of immunity there may be little to no effect. A small amount catch the disease and develop symptoms.
3. Distemper is a virus that enters the body and spreads to the lymph nodes where it kills the cells that provide viral defense. This weakens the immune system so the virus is then allowed to spread all around the body.
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. For this reason, vaccinations are still vital for protecting your puppy from the disease. With these, you’ll find that distemper rarely causes a serious problem.
6. Distemper can be passed on through a dog’s breathing or sneezes and is highly contagious. It can live on surfaces like a dog’s bowl or toy and be passed on through these.
7. If a dog catches the disease it takes a while to develop symptoms. 6 to 9 days is the incubation period for the disease. The stages of the disease progress and get more severe after this.
8. At first, dogs with distemper will have a fever. They may lose their appetite and energy a week later and their eyes may become sticky in a little more time. Other symptoms may vary from dog to dog, but can include coughing, weight loss, nose discharges and skin eruptions as the disease gets worse.
9. Things get very bad for a dog when the disease reaches the brain, which is about after 3 weeks. Seizures, paralysis or encephalitis are some of the symptoms they can get at this bad stage.
10. The easiest way to avoid the disease is vaccinations as a puppy. 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.