Dealing with Canine Distemper: For Owners and Dogs

Canine distemper is a serious illness that can lead to death. While distemper is preventable by vaccination, some dogs from rescue shelters or pet stores may have an incomplete vaccination history that could leave them vulnerable to distemper. Preventing Distemper Canine distemper is easily preventable with a vaccine. Many puppies from shelters and pet stores have not received the vaccine for canine distemper and remain at risk. When purchasing or adopting a puppy, make sure to obtain complete vaccination records. Phases and Symptoms of Distemper Distemper goes through two phases. In the first or mucosal phase, the disease attacks your dog's mucous membranes. Symptoms include a gooey discharge from the nose and eyes, fever, poor appetite, and coughing which may progress into pneumonia. Following the mucosal phase, canine distemper enters what is known as the neurological phase. In the neurological phase, canine distemper attacks your dog's central nervous system. Symptoms of the neurological phase can take one to three weeks to appear; thus it may seem that your dog has recovered from illness, only to fall dreadfully ill once again. Seizures occur during the neurological phase, as the canine distemper attacks your dog's nervous system. Canine distemper seizures are characterized by snapping or tremoring of the jaws, though the whole body may be affected. Treating Canine Distemper Prevention is the best treatment for canine distemper, as it is difficult to treat once symptoms appear. Much depends on your dog's own immune system, and his inherent ability to fight off the disease. Your vet can treat the secondary symptoms, such as pneumonia and diarrhea, but there is no medication he can administer to cure the disease itself. Dogs can recover from canine distemper during any phase of the illness, and even dogs who have entered the more severe neurological phase have been known to recover. However, it's best to get treatment during the first or mucosal stage, as canine distemper can cause permanent disability. While your vet can't administer a drug to cure the disease, his efforts may nevertheless help your dog recover faster. The Worst Case Scenario Sadly, some dogs do die from canine distemper. Neurological damage caused in the final stage of the disease may be so progressive and incapacitating that euthanasia is necessary. The disease is highly contagious and symptoms can be difficult to recognize in the early stages. Puppies are most at risk for canine distemper; make sure your puppy has a complete vaccination history to prevent canine distemper infection.