Canine distemper a highly contagious, life-threatening viral disease. Although vaccines are a big help, they should not be the only preventative measure to ensure pet health. Disinfecting and cleaning your house to prevent canine distemper also helps reduce the risk of infection.
Adolescent dogs and puppies who haven’t been vaccinated do not have immunity against canine distemper. That’s why it’s really important that you do everything you can to prevent canine distemper in your home. You can start by doing a deep cleaning with the right mop and cleaning supplies.
That way, you can reduce the risk of your dog getting infected. However, understanding the disease, its causes, and how it is transferred also is essential.
What is canine distemper?
Canine distemper is a serious disease that targets the dog’s nervous system, immune system, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal system. Paramyxovirus causes this highly contagious disease affecting multiple body systems. This makes distemper difficult to treat.
How is canine distemper transferred?
The distemper virus is spread through airborne exposure, direct contact with infected animals or body fluids, and through the placenta. Dogs could also catch the disease when they are exposed to infected objects like home furniture, that’s why cleaning and disinfecting your home regularly is a great way to prevent the spread of this disease.
Dogs with distemper release the virus when they bark or sneeze causing dogs around them to be at risk. Although the virus does not last long at room temperature, an infected dog remains a carrier of the disease for several months even after they have recovered from it.
What are the symptoms of canine distemper?
You should take the dog to the vet immediately when it begins to show symptoms of the disease. If the infection progresses, a secondary bacterial infection may occur and affect the immune system.
During the early stage, dogs with distemper will experience the following cold-like symptoms. On rare occasions, dogs can also suffer from pustular dermatitis.
- sneezing and coughing
- nasal discharge
- eye discharge
- loss of appetite
Dogs have lower chances for recovery when the infection progresses to stage 2. In this stage, the central nervous system is hugely affected. Infected dogs in stage 2 will experience the following neurological signs of damage.
- head tilt
- muscle twitching
Some dogs that get infected recover quickly while others with weak immune systems may suffer from the infection longer. Sometimes, recovery takes several weeks to months and dogs may suffer from permanent damage.
Hard pad disease
Canine distemper is also known to cause hard pad disease in dogs. This permanent damage causes the hardening and thickening of the dog’s paws and nose. This condition can be uncomfortable and cracks in the nose or paws can lead to infection.
How do you avoid canine distemper?
Dogs that receive a complete course of distemper vaccinations are protected from the virus. It is important that adult dogs boosters, though. Unfortunately for puppies, they cannot receive the vaccine until they are 16 weeks of age.
Puppies need a booster one year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every three years or more often. Talk to your vet about how often your dog needs a booster.
Aside from canine distemper vaccines, cleaning and disinfecting the house will help you with preventing canine distemper as much as you can.
Using disinfecting solution
Stores sell different kinds of disinfectants including sprays, solutions, and even wipes. Every product is different, but for best results, make sure to follow the product’s instructions for use.
Alternatively, you can make your own disinfecting solution to use with a cloth or floor mop that cleans tiles and grouts well. Use ordinary bleach and combine 1 part of bleach to 20 parts water. A stronger solution may be necessary for cleaning areas that have the greatest exposure to infection such as the kennel.
Cleaning at home
It is difficult to clean all corners of the house, although possible. Concentrate more on areas where your dogs usually go and have had direct contact with.
- Floors: Mop and disinfect the floor every day. Use a disinfecting solution and focus on areas where your dogs sleep and play.
- Carpets: Replace and wash the carpets regularly. You may need to remove the carpets for a while if one of your dogs is infected or is a possible carrier of the virus.
- Walls: Clean at least the lower part of the walls by wiping it with a cloth rinsed in disinfecting solution. However, avoid using disinfectants on wood-covered walls because doing so can cause discoloration and swelling. Use soapy water instead and dry thoroughly.
- Sofa: Clean the sofa if your dogs always play and sleep there. Schedule dry cleaning services or use a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Although a HEPA vacuum does not get rid of the virus, it can remove small particles and pet hair which are potential carriers of the virus.
- Kennels: It is important that you clean the kennels thoroughly. Remember also that the presence of solid wastes and urine promotes bacteria growth. It is best to clean the kennels daily and disinfect with water and bleach solution.
- Bedding: You would not know when a dog is already infected. In fact, even dogs who have recovered from this infectious disease are still carriers. Unfortunately for everyone, they could be carrying and transmitting the virus for up to 2 weeks.
- Food bowls: Another way canine distemper is transmitted is by contact with bodily fluids. Empty the food bowls after every meal and dispose of leftovers properly. Clean the feeding area and discourage dogs from eating on shared bowls.
Vaccination is not the only way to avoid life-threatening diseases in dogs. Cleaning your house to prevent canine distemper also is necessary, especially when you have puppies and dogs without immunization.
Allena Rissa is the founder and editor of The Better Fit.