What is Canine Distemper?

Canine distemper commonly referred to as the hard pad disease is considered as a viral disease. Domesticated and wild animals that are susceptible to this disease include:

  • Dogs
  • Skunks
  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Wolves
  • Some primates
  • Large cats like leopards

Canine Distemper can be fatal to animals that have very weak immune systems in that death may result between two to five weeks after infection.

The disease is usually caused by the RNA virus that also causes measles. In addition, the virus is highly contagious and it can be spread through direct or indirect contact like inhalation and close contact with an infected animal. Bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal and the respiratory system also make the animals susceptible to the disease

In canines, its impact can be felt in different parts of the body for instance the respiratory tracts, the brain, the spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system and the brains.

Common symptoms of canine distemper include:

  • Very high fevers
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Fluid discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Highly labored breathing and severe coughs
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hardening of the nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hardening of the foot pads

In most cases, the viral infection can also be accompanied by other secondary bacterial infections that may result into other serious neurological symptoms.

Neurological symptoms
There are also multiple neurological symptoms that are usually caused by canine distemper for instance; an involuntary twitching of muscles, seizures that result into involuntary jaw movement, excessive salivation and constant jaw movements.

The disease is usually diagnosed with several tests like analysis of the urine, biochemical tests and the serology test that is usually used to identify positive antibodies. Several body parts that are also prone to the infection are also tested because they can also be used to determine whether the animal has contacted the disease.

Once an animal has contacted the disease, measures are usually put in place to help alleviate the symptoms because there is no cure. In most cases, anti-bodies are usually prescribed to control symptoms that result from the secondary bacterial infection.

It is therefore important to ensure that canine distemper is prevented by carrying out routine vaccinations and ensuring that infected animals are immediately isolated. In addition, special care is recommended for young ones which prevent them from contracting the disease.

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