PHOENIX – The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) has issued a warning to pet owners as several cases of the Distemper virus have been confirmed throughout the Valley. Distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal airborne virus that is spread amongst dogs via body excretions and inhalation.
The disease reproduces in the lymph nodes before entering the blood stream and cell lining of the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal and central nervous system. AHS is urging the public to ensure dogs and puppies are up-to-date on vaccinations. As a reminder, do not take unvaccinated pets to public places.
Signs of Distemper can mirror canine upper respiratory infections (such as dog colds and kennel cough) and can vary from dog to dog, making a diagnosis very complicated; however, if symptoms are presented together, a diagnosis of Distemper is more likely. Although Distemper may be manageable in a few cases, currently there is no known cure.
Signs of Distemper:
“Bubble gum” chewing
Callusing of nose/foot pads
However, Distemper is preventable as the Distemper vaccine is highly effective. It is critical that pet owners vaccinate their pets beginning with booster shots for puppies every three to four weeks from six to 20 weeks of age, and then annually based on recommendations by their veterinarian throughout their lives. AHS’ veterinary clinics offer Vaccine Friday each week, which are affordable, walk-in vaccine clinics for just $21 per vaccine with a waived office visit fee.
AHS has had five of its dogs test positive for Distemper and sadly, four of them had to be humanely put to sleep for advanced, neurological stages of the disease. In addition to working closely with experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to further understand this strain of the disease, AHS is taking a variety of precautionary measures to protect the pets in its care. View AHS’ Canine Distemper FAQs here.
For more information, go to www.azhumane.org.