Distemper - Common Dog Health Problem
A common dog health problem is Canine distemper which is a viral disease affecting animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae, Mephitidae, Procyonidae, and possibly Felidae (though not domestic cats; feline distemper or panleukopenia is a virus exclusive to cats).
Dogs from four months to four years old are particularly susceptible. Canine distemper virus can be spread through the air and through contact with infected bodily fluids, including food and water contaminated with these fluids. The time between infection and disease is 14 to 18 days, although there can be a fever from three to six days postinfection.
Canine distemper virus has a tropism for lymphoid, epithelial, and nervous tissues. Therefore, the typical pathologic features of canine distemper include lymphoid depletion which causes immunosuppression and could lead to secondary infections such as, interstitial pneumonia, encephalitis with demyelination, and hyperkeratosis of foot pads . Histologic examination reveals intranuclear and intracytoplasmic eosinophilic inclusion bodies in numerous tissues.
This common dog health problem will usually display symptoms such as:
- Dullness and redness of the eye
- Discharge from nose
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite and energy
- Weight loss
- Thickened footpads
- Tooth enamel hypoplasia
If the above symptoms are present, especially fever, respiratory signs, neurological signs, and thickened footpads found in unvaccinated dogs strongly indicate canine distemper. Finding the virus by various methods in the dog's conjunctival cells gives a definitive diagnosis.
There is no specific treatment for canine distemper. The dog should be treated by a veterinarian, usually with antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections, intravenous fluids, and nutritional supplements. The prognosis is usually not good.
There are a number of vaccines against canine distemper for dogs and domestic ferrets, which in many jurisdictions are mandatory for pets. The type of vaccine should be approved for the type of animal being inoculated, or else the animal could actually contract the disease from the vaccine.
Animals should be quarantined if infected. The virus is destroyed in the environment by routine cleaning with disinfectants, detergents, or drying. It does not survive in the environment for more than a few hours at room temperature (37° C), but can survive for a few weeks at temperatures slighty above freezing.
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"I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they chose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas."
~ Jack Handy