Distemper in Puppies
"Distemper in Puppies requires immediate treatment and supervision from a health care professional. While there is no prescription treatment, homeopathic (natural herbal) approaches can be effective"
Puppy distemper is much more common in puppies six months and younger than older dogs. It is a virus that is spread through the air as well as by bodily secretions such as urine. It is a very serious illness and as many as 75% of all dogs who get distemper die from it. We strongly recommend that your dog be under the supervision of a veterinarian or homeopathic animal care professional.
Most veterinarian's will wait until at least 4 months after birth to vaccinate a puppy for distemper. The reason for waiting is that antibodies from the mother remain in the puppies blood stream preventing vaccinations from taking hold. By waiting, there are fewer parental antibodies allowing immunization to occur. Because of this, even if your dog has been vaccinated, it may not have immunity unless the vaccination was successful.
Symptoms of Distemper in Puppies
Symptoms of distemper in puppies can vary from mild to severe. Mild symptoms may include a cough, a runny nose, and red eyes. More serious symptoms include runny eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weight loss. Severe symptoms include seizures, blindness, and paralysis. As you can tell from the wide variety of symptoms, all body systems can be affected, including the respiratory system, the digestive system, and the central nervous system.
Initial symptoms can resemble those of parvo disease, particularly the gastro-intestinal symptoms.
Diagnosing Puppy Distemper
Distemper in puppies is usually diagnosed by a blood test. The blood test looks for antibodies that have developed in response to the disease. If a dog has already been vaccinated for distemper, though, these antibodies will be present regardless of whether or not the dog has distemper.
Another blood test looks for the virus by mixing florescent antibodies in the blood to see if they attach to distemper virus. If they do, the blood will glow. Sometimes this test gives false negative results, though, because the virus "hides" in the cells and is not presents in the blood itself.
Distemper can also be diagnosed by a test of the fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal column (cerebral spinal fluid).
Treating Puppy Distemper
There is no cure for distemper in puppies. All puppies should be vaccinated for distemper when they are about six weeks old. This is the only way to protect your puppy from distemper.
Once a puppy gets distemper, the prognosis is poor. Secondary bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. IV fluids are often required to keep puppies hydrated. Seizures can be treated with anti-convulsive medications. Other symptoms can be treated and supportive care is given, but there is no medication that can treat the distemper itself. Some puppies do recover but there can be lasting problems, such as blindness, paralysis, and seizure disorders.
Homeopathic Treatment for Canine Distemper
Homeopathic (natural/herbal) approaches have been show to be effective in treating and preventing distemper. This would include supplements designed for treating canine distemper itself and others to boost the immune system. A good commercial source of information is PetAlive Vi-Pro Plus to Naturally Prevent and Treat Distemper in Pets
Foster, Race DVM, and Smith, Marty DVM
Canine Distemper: Current Status
Appel, M. and Summers, B.
Response of Puppies to Vaccination with Canine Distemper and Canine Parvovirus
Trevor Waner, BVSc, PhD, Dipl ECLAM
Rehovot Veterinary Referral Clinic