Canine distemper, also known as distemper, leptospirosis or canine distemper is a viral infection that is highly infectious. The virus is transmitted through dogs and their saliva, and in rare cases it can also be transmitted by touching an animal infected with the disease. The name “distemper” is derived from the word “dip” and “stem” in “distemper.”
Dogs can get distemper in dogs through two different routes. First, they can get it from a bite of another infected dog. Second, they can get it by sharing a living space with an affected dog. In either case, the disease can take up to six weeks to show up in the dog’s lymph nodes, or the dogs can be diagnosed as having mild, non-threatening nervous system symptoms for up to three weeks before illness is apparent. Once distemper in dogs is confirmed, treatment can be administered.
Canine distemper vaccination is usually given to dogs at about eight weeks of age. At that time, a booster shot will be given at least one year later. Some years ago, a single vaccine was recommended for dogs, but with increasing concern over the safety of the vaccine, a dual vaccine has been developed. This vaccine protects against both the father and the mother’s offspring, so that the distemper immunity level does not decrease over time.
The distemper vaccine is given in two doses, even though one dose is not necessary. The second dose is given two to four days after the first dose, and the final dose is given a week to 10 days after the last dose. Although there is no longer a need for booster shots, it is recommended that older dogs receive these final doses as well to help maintain the level of protection that the disease has established.
Since some people are concerned about possible vaccinations against other diseases that can affect dogs and their owners, vaccines against several other diseases have been created. For example, a vaccine against rabies is available for dogs and cats that are five months or older. There is also a vaccine against parainfluenza. Your veterinarian can recommend the best type of pet vaccines for your dog, so be sure to ask about these as well.
Canine distemper may cause neurological symptoms like seizures or loss of consciousness, depression, and behavioral problems. The neurological symptoms can be attributed to different strains of the disease. The Texas strain is associated with more neurological problems and is usually fatal. The strain associated with the distemper virus that causes parainfluenza is less fatal than the Texas strain but still causes neurological disease. Be aware that the symptoms that you see might be attributed to other illnesses as well and that it is best to consult a vet at the first sign of illness.
Canine distemper does not only infect the animals’ bodies, but also the respiratory systems of the infected dogs. The virus attacks the respiratory systems and shuts down natural immunity to fight infection. Once the virus invades the body’s defense systems, the animal becomes more vulnerable to other infections and is at risk for developing a secondary infection, called Opportunistic infections. These secondary infections can trigger another bout of illness if the primary infection has not been cured. If an untreated dog shows signs of illness again after suffering from a primary infection, the first infection can be blamed for the secondary infection and this will increase the chances of the secondary infection developing into something more serious.
Symptoms of canine distemper include a loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, loss of body weight, and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, it is very important to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet may do a series of tests and order blood tests to determine if your pet has been infected with distemper or not. Once your pet is treated, it is vital that you keep it away from other sick pets. To prevent dogs from getting distemper, you should always keep your pet clean and check for sores and abrasions on the body of your pet. You should also take your pet to the veterinarian for regular checkups to ensure that the vaccinations have been completed and there are no problems with the gastrointestinal tract.