Canine distemper virus affects almost all body systems. It generally begins as a respiratory virus (cough and discharge from the nose and eyes). The virus can then move into the gastrointestinal form (diarrhea, vomiting), and finally ends in the neurologic form. The neurologic form usually presents as seizures (either general or focal). Focal seizures are seizures affecting the face and ears. During either type of seizure, the pet is un-responsive until the seizure is over. Canine distemper virus is not one to take lightly. Once a pet reaches the neurologic form, the disease is almost always fatal. In a severe form of canine distemper virus, it can be fatal within 3 weeks of showing the first sign of illness.
So why have we deemed canine distemper so important to blog about now? In the last year, we (at SAH) have diagnosed 2 cases. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but with each case there were several (at least 5-10) unvaccinated pets exposed to the disease. With this last case, both parents and all 3 puppies in the litter have been diagnosed (only 1 puppy was diagnosed/treated at our hospital). That’s 5 dogs diagnosed within a month. If each of those dogs was exposed to just 3 unvaccinated dogs, then we have a potential 15 cases. It can get out of hand very quickly – just like a simple case of kennel cough, except this disease is fatal.
Understanding the diseases which your pets are vaccinated for is an important part of being a pet owner. We encourage you to learn and be informed about what types of preventative medicine we practice. The more informed you can be, the better decisions you make for your pets in keeping them healthy. A healthy pet is a happy pet and it is our job to work with you in keeping your pets happy and healthy.
If you would like to read more information on canine distemper virus, please visit the following websites: