Dog Owners Guide To Distemper Symptoms

Distemper symptoms will normally occur within six up to twenty two days after your dog or puppy has been exposed to the virus. By exposure we mean your dog or puppy has come into contact with infected poop, urine, saliva and/or nasal secretions. Your dog or puppy can also get the disease if an infected animal has eaten or drunk from a bowl that is being shared by your pooch.

We have split the Distemper symptoms into stages to make it easier for you to see how the disease progresses. Eighty percent of cases of Puppy Distemper will lead to death and it is one of the most deadly neurological disorders (when the disease reaches the brain) that there is.

Stage 1

The Distemper virus will normally start in the Bronchial Lymph Nodes before it infects the blood stream. It is normally during the third day up to the eighth day that the first signs of a fever will show – symptoms will include…

  • Anorexia
  • A runny nose
  • Eye discharge

This is only the first stage of the illness – the initial fever will normally subside very quickly after approximately ninety six hours and the next stage of the disease will start (normally after about eleven – twelve days after first exposure). The second stage of the fever will normally last about seven days.

The next stage of the disease will cause respiratory and gastrointestinal issues – the Brain and Spinal Chord may also become inflamed – this is commonly referred to as Encephalomyelitis – your dog’s foot pads may also get thicker and lesions may appear on the abdomen.

Stage 2

In terms of gastrointestinal and respiratory distemper symptoms – your dog may develop…

  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing problems
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Your dog may become dehydrated
  • Your pooch may also salivate more than usual

Stage 3

As the disease progresses (when it starts to affect the brain) your dog may start to develop neurological problems. The neurological symptoms may not start for weeks or up to a few months after first exposure to the disease – however the disease can sometimes run its course in a significantly shorter time sometimes as little as ten days. The symptoms during this stage can include…

  • Twitching of individual muscles
  • Twitching of more than one muscle
  • Seizures
  • Excessive salivation
  • Grand Mal fits (convulsions) – death will normally occur at this stage.
  • Light sensitivity
  • Your dog may start walking in circles similar to when he would lye down.
  • Blindness and paralysis can also sometimes occur.

Puppy Distemper

The symptoms of Puppy Distemper can include…

  • Fever – an extreme temperature that can go as high as 105 degrees.
  • Eye discharge – your puppy may develop puss like discharge that comes form the eyes.
  • Nasal discharge is another symptom of the disease
  • Your puppy may start coughing
  • Your puppy may appear tired, sleepy and very lethargic not wanting to play or exercise.
  • Loss of appetite is another common symptom of the condition
  • Your puppy may experience bouts of diarrhea
  • You may notice that your puppy’s poop smells really bad much worst than normal.
  • Eighty percent of puppies that get the disease will not survive.
  • As the symptoms progress neurological problems may start to show including Spinal Chord swelling and thickening of the foot pads.

There is no effective medication that can cure the disease – secondary problems like diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration can be treated but if your puppy develops neurological problems associated with Encephalomyelitis then your pooch will need to be put to sleep – it would be the kindest option.

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