Canine distemper is a viral disease that can affect any dog. Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, very often fatal, viral disease that affects many bodily systems in the infected dog. Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus, also known as CDV. The CDV affects the nervous, gastrointestinal, and respitory systems in a canine.
Canine distemper happens all over the world, and at one time it was the leading cause of death in puppies without the vaccination. The common belief that canine distemper only occurs in dogs is wrong. The CDV can affect foxes, raccoons, and skunks too, therefore CDV is extremely common in wildlife animals. Young puppies between 3 and 6 months old and nonimmunized older dogs are most susceptible to infection and disease and are more likely to die than infected adults. Nonimmunized dogs that have contact with other nonimmunized dogs or with wild carnivores with CDV have a greater risk of becoming infected with canine distemper. Infected dogs give out the virus through bodily secretions and excretions. The primary mode of transmission is airborne viral particles that dogs breathe in, which are one of the main reasons the disease gets into the respitory system. Dogs in recovery may continue to give out the virus for several weeks after symptoms disappear, but they no longer are contagious after they have fully recovered.
Respitory and gastrointestinal symptoms include conjunctivitis (discharge from the eye, both or one), diarrhea, fever, pneumonia (cough, heavy breathing), rhinitis (runny nose), vomiting (after eating). Neurological symptoms include ataxia (muscle incoordination), depression, hyperesthesia (increased sensitivity to pain or touch), myoclonus (muscle twitching or spasm), which can become disabling, paralysis, paresis (partial or incomplete paralysis),progressive deterioration of mental abilities, progressive deterioration of motor skills, seizures. It is also known that a dog will distemper will have hardening of the nose and footpads.
While distemper is extremely dangerous and fatal, preventing your dog from getting it is extremely easy. While a puppy is still young, it should get vaccinated for distemper, which can be easily done by a vet. If you dog is not vaccinated, it can get vaccinated at any age. People can also get infected with it, but a less likely to. If a person has had a measles vaccination, they are also immune to CDV.