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Distemper: Spotting This Dog Killer Before it's Too Late
Canine distemper is a devastating disease. It often crops up in seemingly healthy pets without any warning. What's more, distemper often mimics benign problems, like the common cold. This is truly the most insidious aspect of this illness. Sadly, many cases progress to the point where they are no longer treatable before the owner even realizes what's happened.
How to spot the early signs of distemper
First and foremost, understand that distemper can often be diagnosed very early if regular trips to the veterinarian are scheduled and kept. This cannot be stressed enough, especially for new puppies! Because afflictions like distemper most often strike very young pups when they have weaker immune systems, it's crucial that owners visit the vet often in the first few weeks of life. Early diagnosis means a chance to survive distemper.
Owners who suspect distemper, but haven't had the animal seen by a vet yet, can detect it by a couple of signs. First, yellowish-green or dark green discharge from the eyes and nose is a classic symptom. It's often accompanied by sneezing and general lethargy. Unfortunately, many pet owners assume this is just a sign that their dog has contracted a cold or has allergies and they ignore it.
If you remember nothing else about what you read here, remember this: any greenish discharge from the eyes or nose means distemper is a real possibility. RUSH your pet to the vet at the first sign! In most distemper cases, the only chance your puppy or dog has is early detection and aggressive medical therapy.
While distemper can manifest differently from one dog to the next, another hallmark of it is constant shaking or twitching. This happens in the more advanced stages of the disease, when the infected dog's neurological system has been compromised and muscles fire continuously. Unfortunately, by this stage it's rarely treatable and the humane step is euthanasia. Having said that, always get your pet checked out thoroughly to rule out some other condition that may be causing the tremors. You never know. Dogs are like people, in that they are susceptible to a wide range of illnesses and diseases that can share very similar symptoms. Never assume!
It isn't easy for pet owners to prevent diseases as serious as distemper. It's infamous for sneaking up on otherwise healthy puppies. But starting a new puppy out right - with good nutrition and regular visits to the vet for vaccinations and check-ups - will go a long way toward keeping him healthy and disease-free. Know and watch for the signs of distemper and your dog will have a strong ally in you!
John Schwartz is a freelance writer, webmaster, and dog lover. He has written many published articles on subjects that include shopping for dog supplies, improving pet health, and good dog training practices. Please visit my dog supply site for monthly discount pet supplies.
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