Moquillo or canine distemper

Canine distemper is a disease caused by a virus which is highly infectious. This disease is called by some people “the disease of a thousand symptoms” since they are many and variable.

The virus affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems of puppy and adult dogs. Distemper affects not only dogs but also wild animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and ferrets.

Distemper transmission

The virus is easily transmitted by direct contact with dogs or another animal infected  with the disease, often spreading through bodily secretions (secretions from the nose and tears) of such animals. These secretions spread like an aerosol in the form of tiny droplets.

People can also bring the virus home on clothes, shoes, or on the tires of a car, motorcycle, bicycle, etc. So indoor pets are not free from the threat of distemper, it should also be noted that this virus is airborne and in this way can infect pets through open windows and doors. Infected dogs can shed the virus for several months.

Symptoms of distemper

  • Fever.
  • Conjunctivitis (eye congestion, pus or watery discharge from the eyes)
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Intermittent cough
  • Sneezing
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Lethargy.
  • He retched.
  • Diarrhea sometimes with blood.
  • Dermatitis, thickening of the skin of the nose.
  • The pads of the feet (pads) are hardened and cracked.
  • In advanced stages, distemper can attack the nervous system causing seizures, spasms and even partial or complete paralysis.

This virus is often fatal. Although dogs do not die from the disease, canine distemper virus can cause irreparable damage to the animal’s nervous system.

A dog sick with distemper may present one or more of the aforementioned symptoms. The time that passes from when a dog has contact with the virus until it presents any symptoms can take between 5 to 24 days approximately.

If your dog presents any of the symptoms that we have mentioned, it is important and urgent that you take him to the vet.

Distemper diagnosis

Diagnosis of this virus is made by signs , physical examination, and laboratory tests. The veterinarian can take samples of the eye or nasal secretions, also by means of a blood test.

There is a serious drawback and that is that false negatives can be obtained, so it is very safe if the test comes out positive, but it is possible that the dog may be infected, even if the test is negative.

It is very important to note that an animal that presents conjunctivitis, nasal secretions, cough or a digestive picture, will not precisely have distemper, it can be a bronchitis caused by bacteria so it will be cured using the corresponding antibiotics, unlike distemper that is caused by a virus that is not destroyed by antibiotics, but is a disease that is prevented with vaccines.

Treatment of distemper

The virus has no cure,  the treatment is palliative  , that is, the symptoms are treated by preventing secondary infections that are possibly caused by bacteria, antibiotics are used to control these infections; so diarrhea and vomiting should be controlled by preventing the animal from becoming dehydrated by administering fluids and medications for nervous or other symptoms.

The veterinarian can also prescribe eye drops and vitamins, as in many cases what is sought is to strengthen the animal’s defenses and prevent secondary infections. Treatment can last a few days and even weeks, which will depend on each patient and their specific response against the virus.

The mortality of this virus is very high, approximately half of the patients are saved as long as they are attended to by the veterinarian in time and the medications that help to increase their defenses are applied since with all this increases the chances of improvement.

It is important that the treatment is not suspended even if you see that the dog is already more animated. If you do not notice improvement in a few days with veterinary treatment, it is best to hospitalize the animal.

Infected animals must be separated from the rest and sheltered to avoid the cold.

Hygiene measures must be adopted to prevent the spread of the disease, for example that people change their clothes after being in contact with the infected dog and use disinfectants.

Unfortunately treatment is not always effective. In most cases the virus is fatal, dogs that recover regularly can be left with nervous sequelae for their entire lives, and their recovery is a very long and expensive process. The euthanasia is a resource that should be considered outtime all possible alternatives regarding drugs and even more if the animal is in a state of continual suffering.

Prevention of distemper

Prevention is through vaccination. The distemper virus is part of the first vaccination given to puppies and of all annual booster doses.

It is also important to prevent contact with animals infected by the virus, for this reason the puppy should not be taken out when it has not yet completed its vaccination schedule.

If you had an animal with distemper make sure to disinfect the place, dishes, toys well before giving home to another dog. The virus is destroyed by routine cleaning with detergents and disinfectants. Although in general this virus does not survive for many hours in the environment, its survival periods may be extended with low temperatures. Find out from your vet.

Remember to ask your trusted veterinarian for information about vaccination, ask him to recommend the most appropriate vaccination program for your pet. Do not forget that it is he who can help you clarify your doubts about this disease and if you have a dog with the symptoms described above, do not wait for it to improve alone, take it to the vet immediately.

 | Website

Sherry Fluharty, is an Activist, animal activist, community manager, and blogger at Tom Cat Wiki in order to make people aware of the responsible ownership of pets. And in charge of writing content and responsible for the project.