Distemper in dogs has been called the greatest disease threat to the world’s dog population by the American Veterinary Medical Association. In adult dogs, distemper is fatal 50% of the time, but in puppies the fatality rate rises to 80%. Despite this grim prognosis, a dog with distemper should nevertheless receive medical treatment as quickly as possible, as the sooner the veterinarian can see the dog, the better his chances of survival.
1. Call your veterinarian as soon as you notice any of the potential symptoms of distemper. These symptoms include not only the lethargy and loss of appetite that are common to many illnesses but also vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, rapid breathing, runny nose and discharge from the nose and eyes.
2. Make your suffering pet comfortable. Choose a warm resting place free from drafts and out of the way of household traffic.
3. Keep your dog clean. Wipe away the discharge from eyes and nose; do not allow these to crust over.
4. Give your dog plenty of water to drink. Fluids are necessary to prevent dehydration. Seriously dehydrated dogs may need rehydration treatment in an animal hospital.
5. Feed a bland diet as recommended by your veterinarian to put an end to the vomiting and diarrhea. The vet may also prescribe medications to treat these symptoms.
6. Administer the medications prescribed by your veterinarian. These might include antibiotics to treat or prevent infection and anti-convulsants and sedatives to control any seizures in addition to the medications that may be prescribed for the diarrhea and vomiting.