Distemper, the dog killer

Dr.  WJ Grobler of Bergbos Animal Clinic was consulted to find out more about the disease: distemper.  A virus closely related to the human measles virus is responsible for canine distemper and most of the affected animals do not have very good recovery chance.  Although the virus is very susceptible to disinfectants, sunlight and drying it is very contagious and differentiate.  A sick dog has huge quantities Virus in its fesses.

“The diagnosis of canine distemper is usually not an easy task.  Suspicious symptoms of any canine diseases are a possibility.  The disease can be very easy confused with tick-bite fever, kennel cough, parvo virus, poisoning and other causes of pneumonia virus confused” says Dr.  WJ Grobler.  “Blood tests may be done to confirm the presence of the virus and to determine whether the dog has antibodies to fight against the virus.”

At this stage there is no cheap, safe drugs to kill viruses.  The only treatment for canine distemper is to stimulate the dog’s appetite, to try to control muscle spasms and secondary bacterial infections of the lungs.  “Almost 80% of puppies and 50% of adult dogs do not recover in most of these cases.  Euthanasia is the only option.  The illness may take a few weeks to heal or severe convulsions start.  This means that treatment is usually prolonged.  ”

The symptoms can be very varied and include the following: high fever, loss of appetite, yellow green eye and nasal discharge, cough, eye and gums are very red, muscle tremors, especially the muscles on top of the head, vomiting and diarrhea and convulsions.

“Here is a bit of good news: it is very easy to prevent distemper.  A bitch immune to canine distemper transfer large amounts of antibodies to her litter.  However, these antibodies are exhausted from eight to sixteen weeks and during this time the puppies needs to be vaccinated.  In most cases, puppies from six to eight weeks should be vaccinated and thereafter every three to four weeks until they are sixteen weeks old.  An annual booster will hold the dog’s immunity high”.  Make sure you keep your dog healthy.  One can never be too careful.  The deadly disease could just take your beloved pet’s life if you do did not give it the necessary vaccinations.  Acknowledgment for all information goes to Dr.  WJ Grobler and his resources.

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