Dogs are Friends's Blog

One More Reason to Get Your Pup Vaccinated
July 13, 2009, 12:29 pm
Filed under: Pets | Tags: , , ,

We all know how during the first few months of owning a new puppy it seems like you are at the vet all the time. Get this shot then come back for a checkup. It may seem annoying but it is so very important to your pups health that you stick it out and go to all the check ups and scheduled vet visits.

In May of this year, two animal shelters in West Georgia were closed because of an outbreak of canine distemper virus. Even more disappointing than the closing of the shelters is that fact that many puppies and dogs (with weakened immune systems) had to be euthanized. The other animals are being kept elsewhere, while the shelters undergo a thorough cleaning. Canine distemper is deadly and spreads quickly, but the outbreak in West Georgia was not caused by conditions at the shelters. So, how does the disease spread, what symptoms are present, and how can you treat and prevent infection?

The canine distemper virus (CDV) was once a widespread and commonly found disease in dogs. Vaccination efforts significantly reduced the outbreaks of the disease; although it can still occur. The outbreak in West Georgia was the first in 18 years. CDV is transmitted by animals, such as raccoons, foxes, and weasels. Cats are not known to be susceptible to the virus. It spreads quickly and can live in an area a month after the carrier is gone. It can be spread through the air, feces, saliva, urine, and other body secretions. An unvaccinated dog merely chasing an infected animal can contract the disease. This is what officials think may have caused the outbreak in West Georgia. Once the infected dog entered the kennel, the disease spread to the unvaccinated animals.

Once CDV enters the body, it spreads quickly. Often, the symptoms depend on the infection site but spread to infect the entire body. If the virus enters into the respiratory system, the symptoms are similar to kennel cough and include coughing, discharge from the eyes and a runny nose. When the digestive tract is infected by the virus, vomiting and diarrhea most often occur. If the virus infects the brain and the nervous system (the untreated virus almost always spreads here), then seizures may occur. Fever is almost always present with the infection.

Not all dogs that contract the disease die from it. However, fatalities often occur in young puppies and dogs with weakened immune systems. There is no cure for the disease; although, fluids can be given to prevent dehydration and antibiotics can be prescribed to fight off secondary infections. Animals that survive the disease frequently suffer from nervous system disorders later in life.

The best thing you can do for your pet is get him vaccinated. Between vaccinations, keep your pooch away from pets outside your home. Wait until the vaccinations are in full effect before you take him on a play date or to a dog park. If you suspect that a dog in your home has the virus, then isolate him and immediately contact your veterinarian. Humans have not been known to contract the virus, but it will spread to other dogs in your home. If you have had a pet suffer from CDV, do not bring a new pet into your home for at least one month. Everything in your home should be disinfected with water and bleach or acceptable disinfectants. The shelters in West Georgia are in the process of cleaning and replacing ceiling tiles and ductwork because of the airborne nature of the disease.

Canine distemper virus is a deadly disease. Once contracted, the virus is easily spread to other animals. Two shelters in West Georgia are undergoing decontamination because of outbreaks of CDV. Having your puppy vaccinated is the best thing you can do to prevent contraction of the virus. During the vaccination process, do not allow you pup outside the home or around other animals, you can contain them with a dog crate or a pet gate. If you are bringing a new pet into a home where the CDV was once present, be sure you thoroughly clean your entire home and wait at least one month before the introduction.


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