Photo of Lucy Jabrayan sitting on top of a brown horse.

CANINE VIRAL DISTEMPER (CVD)

By Lucy Jabrayan, founder of Thrive4Life Holistic Pet Food.

Canine Viral Distemper (CVD) is a disease classified as a pansystemic disease.
It is a highly contagious and viral disease of canines and other carnivores, that being said, depending on the strain of the virus, it varies in virulence from mild to fatal.

Although the name suggests it only effects dogs, CVD can effect cats as well as other carnivores such as ferrets.

Although the disease can infect pets of all ages, the most common age range is between 3 to 6 months of age. CVD is a paramyxovirus that is one of a group of RNA viruses that are predominantly responsible for acute respiratory diseases, and are usually transmitted through airborne droplets. Most routine cleansing agents and disinfectants such as bleach can destroy the virus, including heat, in the environment.

Transmission:
CVD is transmitted through aerosolization of body secretions. The virus has several strains and varies in virulence from mild to fatal, which suggests that the severity will be dependent on the animals’ immune system.
Clinical signs of infection are usually associated with the presence of secondary infections, although encephalitis and other neurological signs may be caused by the direct effect of the virus on neurons.

Clinical Signs:
-Fever
-Cough
-Pneumonia
-Mucopurulent nasal and ocular discharge
-Anorexia
-Vomiting
-Diarrhea
-Dehydration
-Ataxia, circling, blindness
-“Chewing gum” seizures (clonus)
-Muscle twitching
-Abdominal pustules
-Hyperkeratosis of foot pads
-CDV is the most common cause of seizures in dogs younger than 6 months.
 
Diagnosis:
Physical examination and history at your vets’ office, which may include a serology (rising titers in paired serum samples). FA test to detect the virus in epithelial cells that are collected from the conjunctiva (or other mucous membranes).

It’s also important to note that neurological signs can appear within weeks or even years after the actual infection.
 
Treatment:
According to AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), there are no cures for distemper, only a vaccination prevention program.

However, treatment typically consist of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections and mitigate symptoms such as control vomiting, diarrhea, and combat dehydration by administering fluids.
 
Natural Alternatives:
Although there is no cure for CVD, these natural remedies might help to assist the immune system;

  1. Herbs with strong anti-viral properties such as; Goldenseal, Echinacea, Olive Leaf, Andrographis, Astragalus, Holy Basil. These herbs are rich in Alkylamides and Polysaccharides, increases both white blood cell count and NK cells. Increases heat shock protein levels and modulates immune response of macrophages and T cells.
  2. Probiotic supplement, as 80% of the immune system is in the gut.
  3. Larch arabinogalactin; highly researched for immune boosting properties and combating infections.
  4. Quercitin with Bromelain: Has strong antioxidants to support lung health and may help lower incidence of secondary infections like pneumonia.
  5. Gemmotherapy: Silver Linden, tilia tomentosa.
An effective remedy that may help to calm and repair the nervous system.  Compliments well with English Holly, Fig tree, Lithy tree and Briar rose a.k.a. Dog rose.
 
If you notice any one of the above signs and symptoms, or suspect your pet has contracted distemper, seek veterinary assistance immediately.