Recently, some media (Al – Arabiya English, The National) announced the outbreak of one of the most known viruses in dogs – Canine Distemper. In Dubai, some pet owners say their dogs have been diagnosed with distemper. What should we do about it as pet owners? Read the article below to know more about Canine Distemper and how to prevent the disease from our pets.
What is Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a severe and contagious disease, caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems. Even though this disease is highly contagious and potentially lethal, it is also one of the most preventable diseases.
How is Canine Distemper Spread?
– Direct contact with an infected animal or object
– Airborne exposure
– Placenta (vertical transmission, from parents to their babies)
Canine Distemper could be spread by contaminated surfaces such as food and water bowls when an infected dog or wild animal coughs/sneezes/barks they could release aerosol droplets which could contaminate the environment.
Dogs are not the only animal that can get distemper, some wild animals such as raccoons, foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, ferrets, and mink can also get distemper. The outbreak of distemper in a population can put the animals around at risk of catching the disease since the disease could spread without direct contact.
But the good news is that this virus (CDV) does not last long in the environment and can be destroyed by most disinfectants.
What are the symptoms of Canine Distemper?
Dogs with Distemper experience a wide range of symptoms, depending on how advanced the disease is in their bodies we can separate the symptoms into 2 stages
Some dogs could experience something called “hard pad disease”, which causes the pads of dog’s feet to harden and enlarge, this stage could happen when dogs with distemper survive the acute stage
Dogs could experience neurological signs because the virus could attack the central nervous systems. Some of the signs are:
According to American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – dogs that survive distemper usually have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage
How to prevent Canine Distemper?
Yes, this disease is scary – but doesn’t mean that it wasn’t preventable. These are several things you can do to prevent distemper:
– Make sure your pets get their vaccination regularly and are up-to-date throughout your dog life. Call your veterinarian for information about Canine Distemper Vaccination – you can also come to our clinic (Nad Al Shiba Veterinary Clinic) to get more information about Vaccination Timetable
– Be careful socializing your pets with an unvaccinated dog (in an uncontrolled areas such as dog parks, classes, etc. )
– Stay clean and remember that cleanliness could prevent the virus to spread
If you have more questions about distemper in dogs, talk to us – and if you suspect your dog might be showing symptoms of distemper, don’t hesitate to call us or come to our clinic for a check-up!
American Veterinary Medical Association – Canine Distemper Virus
Martella, V., Elia, G., & Buonavoglia, C. (2008). Canine distemper virus. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 38(4), 787-797.
World Small Animal Veterinary Association – Canine Distemper Virus – Fact Sheet
Written by: Amanda Faradifa, DVM
Editor: Dr. Suraj K Rajan; Dr. Farai Jinjika