What is Distemper?

It’s that time of year again: time to update your dog or cat’s shots. You’ve likely heard or seen the term “Distemper” during your visit to the vet, and maybe have even assumed it to mean something about your dog’s mood or behavior. But this is not the case!

Distemper is actually a contagious viral disease that affects animals.

Some fast facts about Distemper from Pet 360:

• Canine distemper is separate and unrelated to feline distemper.

• Feline distemper is also called epanleukopenia.

• Distemper cannot be passed from a cat to a dog, or vice versa, but ferrets are extremely prone to contracting canine distemper.

• The disease is an air-borne virus, so even if your dog or cat never comes in physical contact with another dog or cat it is still susceptible to infection. You can bring the disease home on your shoes or clothing.

How is it diagnosed?

• Distemper may be difficult to differentiate from other diseases, largely because it is less common today due to the effectiveness of regular preventative vaccination programs.

• In dogs, symptoms may affect the respiratory, gastro-intestinal or nervous system, and any combination of these.

• In cats, feline distemper causes vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Feline fetuses infected with distemper may have life-long problems with coordination.

• A vaccination program against distemper should be started when your kitten or puppy is six weeks old. Your veterinarian will then advise you on the regularity of booster shots, which are generally given on an annual basis throughout the animalšs entire life span. In the future, blood levels of antibody protection will tell how often a pet is vaccinated.

• Immunity to distemper or other contagious diseases does not build up with age.

• Canine and feline distemper is often a fatal disease.

Needless to say, as with all infectious diseases, prevention through regular annual vaccinations is the best medicine. Visit the Pet 360 site by clicking here.