What is Canine Distemper?

Cats and dogs are probably the most common and beloved type of pet, and most households with pets have at least one, if not both of these in different shapes and sizes. Dogs are considered to be man’s best friend, they are loyal, loving, unconditional and playful; while cats have long been considered the secret rulers of the world, they hold a special mystery over us and can be extremely strong willed, independent and loyal, making them excellent pets.

Unfortunately for us, pets don’t last forever, and as all animals, they are vulnerable to contract diseases that if not properly taken care of, can mean the end of our furry companion. One of these deadly diseases that affects mostly dogs, but does not exclude cats is Canine Distemper.

Canine Distemper is a viral disease that affects domestic and wild dogs, foxes, coyotes, wolves, raccoons, ferrets and even pandas. Although at first believed to only affect canines, it has been discovered that large cats and domestic cats can also contract the disease. It is infected via inhalation, and is deadly 50% of the time. It affects the respiratory system, causing coughing, wheezing, hardening of the nose and foot pads, vomiting and fever. It can also affect the gastrointestinal system, causing diarrhea, soft tissue inflammation; it may also target the brain or the spinal cord, causing lethargy, loss of appetite and fluid discharge from the nose, eyes and ears. If the virus is allowed to develop, it may cause incontinence, excessive salivation, seizures, pain, blindness, disorientation and ultimately, death.

As yet there is no specific treatment for this deadly disease, but your vet will take certain steps towards his recovery. Although the treatment will not target the virus directly, it will try to treat the symptoms and undo the damage that the virus causes to the different systems affected. Special nutrition, electrolytes, hydration, anticonvulsants and pain relievers will help your pet get through this disease with a chance of survival.

Prevention is the best solution, so that your best friend does not have to suffer this painful disease. Constant cleaning and disinfecting of your home, the dog’s bed and his toys are essential, and some states have a mandatory vaccine against Canine Distemper that will help boost your pets immune system.

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