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The Canine Distemper Virus

August 1, 2014

August is Immunization Awareness Month, and one of the core vaccinations that all dogs should receive is the canine distemper vaccine. Learn more about canine distemper and how it’s prevented below.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper is a virus. It attacks a dog’s respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, as well as the central nervous system. It also can affect the membranes of the eye.

How Did My Dog Get the Virus?

Canine distemper is contagious, and is almost always contracted through contact with other dogs. It’s easily spread through direct contact with urine, blood, or saliva. Regular activities like sharing food and water bowls or roughhousing together in the yard are possible ways a dog could contract the virus. If another infected dog sneezes or coughs around your dog, it could also be transmitted.

What are the Symptoms?

The first signs of a distemper infection are sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Some dogs may also exhibit a runny mucus coming from the eyes. As the virus progresses, weakness, depression, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite will occur. Call your Larimer County veterinary professional immediately if you witness any of these symptoms in your dog, especially if he’s been in close contact with other dogs recently.

How is it Treated?

There is no medication or drug that can destroy the canine distemper virus. Instead, treatment focuses on supportive care. Fluid therapy and antibiotics can help stave off secondary infections and keep your dog healthy until his immune system battles off the virus. Young dogs are especially prone to the virus, and need to be monitored constantly if they’ve contracted distemper.

How is Distemper Prevented?

It’s much easier to prevent canine distemper than to treat it and manage the symptoms. Luckily, the canine distemper vaccine is very good at preventing the disease. Plus, it’s part of the usual regimen of core vaccines that your dog probably received as a puppy. Talk to your vet to get your pooch a shot if he hasn’t already been vaccinated.

Your Larimer County vet can answer any further questions you have about canine distemper and its vaccination.  Call the clinic today !

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