Distemper is mostly a risk for stray dogs and dogs that are not up-to-date on their immunizations.
How Is Distemper Spread?
Canine distemper spreads similarly to the way the common cold is spread. If a dog that’s infected with canine distemper sneezes or coughs, he may release germs into the air that are picked up by other dogs and animals. Distemper is also spread through the exchange of bodily fluids such as tears, eye fluids, urine, saliva, etc.
Three to five days after the virus is contracted, your dog will typically develop a fever, lose his appetite, and may have a runny nose and eyes.
These symptoms typically last about 4 days, go away, and then come back about 12 days after the initial infection.
How Distemper Affects Your Boston
Canine distemper is a virus that reproduces itself in the bronchial lymph nodes and tonsils of your Boston Terrier. The virus then makes it’s way to the bloodstream and infects other lymphatic tissues. It continues on to the respiratory tract, the digestive tract, the urinary tract, and finally the central nervous system.
When Distemper Reaches The Lymphatic System
When distemper gets into the lymphatic system, it causes immunosuppression. Immunosuppression is a condition that makes dogs more vulnerable to other infections.
When Distemper Reaches The Digestive System
Your Boston Terrier may experience all or some of the following:
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Excessive Drool/Saliva
• Labored Breathing
• Runny Nose
When Distemper Reaches The Central Nervous System
If distemper reaches the central nervous system of your Boston Terrier, his brain and spinal cord may become inflamed, which may cause your dog to lose control of his bowels and bladder.
There’s more … your dog may also experience muscles twitches or seizures at this stage of canine distemper. These seizures are often referred to as “chewing gum fits”, but the “scientific” name for them is distemper myoclonus.
Your Boston Terrier may begin to lose his motor coordination and become more sensitive to touch and light.
All of these symptoms may begin to occur within 10 days of infection, or sometimes symptoms take several months to appear.
Diagnosing Canine Distemper
Your vet will do blood work which will reveal an unusually low lymphocyte and platelet count.
Another key indicator of canine distemper is calluses on the nose and foot pads of your pup! If your dog’s history of vaccinations is unknown, your vet may suspect distemper right away.
Your vets diagnosis can be confirmed by finding the virus in the conjunctival cells that cover your dog’s eyeball. 🙁
Treatment For Canine Distemper?
Unfortunately distemper in not a curable disease. The only disease amongst dogs that has a higher kill rate than distemper is rabies.
Recovery depends on your dog’s immune system; dogs with a great immune system may be able to kill the virus before it reaches the central nervous system.
However, this disease can hide from the immune system and cause neurologic symptoms in your Boston Terrier, even after he’s been cleared of the disease.
Canine Distemper Treatment usually involves supporting your dog’s immune system- while his body fights off the disease.
Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, which are used to treat secondary infections that arise due to the dog’s weakened immune system.
Some other treatments that may be utilized are nutritional supplements and IV fluids (to help prevent dehydration).
If a puppy’s mother has been vaccinated for canine distemper, she may pass some of her immunity to her pups through her milk. Once the puppy is about four months old though, they should receive the proper vaccination.
If a dog is diagnosed with distemper, he should be quarantined for several months, since it’s a highly contagious disease.