What is Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. This virus also infects other wild animals such as foxes, raccoons, skunks, wolves, coyotes and ferrets. It is very important that you keep your dogs away from other wildlife to avoid the virus from spreading.
Causes of Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is transmitted through the exposure of airborne viral particles in the respiratory secretions of dogs and puppies. Outbreaks of canine distemper tend to be sporadic. Dogs and puppies younger than six months that have not been immunized are at an increased risk of developing this infection.
Diagnosing Canine Distemper
The diagnosis of canine distemper is based on the symptoms, your dog’s vaccination history and certain laboratory tests. Various tests such as blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, cerebrospinal fluid, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunofluorescence assay may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of canine distemper.
Symptoms and Signs of Canine Distemper
The symptoms and signs of canine distemper include:
* Eye discharge (initially watery and then turns pus-like)
* Nasal discharge
* Loss of appetite
In advanced stages, seizures, twitching, partial or complete paralysis may occur if the virus attacks the nervous system.
The best way to prevent canine distemper is ensuring that your puppy or dog receives the distemper vaccination. Puppies that have not been vaccinated are more prone to viral infections because their immune systems are still weak. Treatment usually involves addressing secondary infections, as there are no medications available to kill this particular virus.
Medications are aimed at controlling symptoms, and intravenous fluids may be administered. Once you have taken your pet home, avoid contact with other dogs, keep him warm and provide good supportive care. It is vital that excellent hygiene is maintained to avoid transferring the infection to other dogs.
Natural and Holistic remedies have also proven to be highly beneficial in supporting the immune, respiratory and digestive systems. These remedies are safe and gentle to use for your pet without the harmful side effects of conventional medications.
One of the most well known herbs known as Echinacea purpurea helps to support the immune system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Distemperinum and Bryonia supports the immune, respiratory and digestive systems by keeping the chest clear, maintaining digestive functioning and keeping the body temperature within normal range.
There are several ways to prevent canine distemper and these include:
* Feed your pet high quality commercial food or an all natural diet containing essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
* Make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are updated regularly
* Avoid contact with raccoons, foxes, skunks and other potentially infected wildlife if possible
* Always provide fresh, clean water for your dog to prevent dehydration and flush out toxins
* Disinfect food and water bowls as well as sleeping areas and bedding
* Wipe away eye and nose discharge and keep these areas clean
* Limit your puppy’s contact with other dogs until he has received his complete series of vaccinations – avoid places such as parks, grooming parlors and obedience classes where dogs typically congregate
* Strengthen your pet’s immune system with immune-boosting supplements
* Visit your vet annually for routine check-ups