How Long Can a Dog Live with Canine Distemper?

Dogs and Cats

Distemper is a term pet owners commonly hear when they have their pets immunized. A vet will always suggest for a pup of about six to eight weeks to receive vaccination against canine distemper. But, what is it really? Today, we are going to learn about the disease, as well as answer the question, “How long can a dog live with distemper?”

What Exactly is Canine Distemper?

Distemper is not an innocent disease that can be cured with a simple medical intervention. It is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV) which targets different systems in a dog’s body. It can majorly affect the central nervous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems, and can even lead to death.

Similar to other canine diseases, it’s hard to say where it originated from. Some experts debate that it’s possible for the disease to have begun in Bohemia during the 11th century. What veterinarians do know, however, is that a vaccine against distemper has been developed in, as early as, the 1920s, making it easier for pet owners of today to protect their dogs.

How Does a Dog Get Distemper?

Vets highly recommend that pet owners to get their puppy vaccinated because dogs can contract it at an early age. The virus can be found in bodily secretions like mucus, urine, and feces of the infected host. What’s more, it can be airborne which means that your dog or pup can easily breathe in infected particles and get sick from other infected dogs.

Canine Distemper Symptoms

What’s dangerous about distemper is that early symptoms can be hard to detect because they resemble symptoms of the common cold – a runny nose, coughing, and fever. Your dog’s eyes could also have a mild discharge accompanied by a loss of appetite. After, your dog’s paws may harden, it may vomit or experience diarrhea, and even get depressed. Be very observant of these symptoms.

How the disease progresses will depend on your dog’s age, it’s overall health or immunity, and the strain of CDV it has contracted. Some pets who are in tip-top shape will actually fight off the disease all on their own. Unfortunately, the ones that don’t have a strong immune system will have a bad prognosis. So, you never want to take that risk as a pet owner.

How Long Can a Dog Live with Distemper?

If you suspect that your dog has contracted distemper, go to your vet immediately. You should know that the measures your vet will likely take will be focused on support. There is no cure for the disease so your vet will focus on treating the symptoms that it comes with.

As for how long a dog can live with distemper, it’s hard to say as it will depend on the dog’s age and, again, the strain of the virus it is infected with. Don’t worry though, because your dog can and will survive as long as you give him the help that he needs on time.

Most likely, the goal will be to manage the symptoms and prevent further infection from happening. Your vet could start your dog with an IV line and give him antibiotics, anti-siezure medication, as well as anti-vomiting and diarrhea meds. The good news is, when your pet’s health goes up, he is going to be immune to any further attacks.

How to Prevent Distemper in Pets

Definitely, the best prevention measure is vaccination. Once immunized, your dog will produce immunity that can last for about three years. For pets who cannot be vaccinated, taking precautions is in order.

Outside of a host, the CDV will only survive for a few hours. In your home, it can be counteracted by letting in some sunlight. The virus hates sunlight. Keep your house clean too, as CDV is not resistant to common household disinfectants.

John at My Pet Child

is the Founder of My Pet Child, where he shares his tips on living with a dog in an apartment.

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