Sonora, CA…Tuolumne County has had confirmed cases of the deadly virus: distemper. Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. All dogs are at risk but puppies younger than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against canine distemper are at increased risk of acquiring the disease.
Initially, infected dogs will develop watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes. They then develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation (“chewing gum fits”), seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, leading to its nickname “hard pad disease.”
In wildlife, infection with canine distemper closely resembles rabies.
Distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage.
There is no cure for canine distemper infection. Vaccination is crucial in preventing canine distemper. Talk to your vet today if you believe that your pet is due for its vaccination. To prevent distemper take these precautionary steps:
Avoid gaps in the immunization schedule and make sure distemper vaccinations are up to date.
Avoid contact with infected animals and wildlife
Use caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs at parks, puppy classes, obedience classes, doggy day care and other places where dogs can congregate.
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