CDV is a common disease in Laos, particularly in unvaccinated puppies from unvaccinated mothers. It is caused by a virus which is shed in bodily secretions but especially from the respiratory tract. Unvaccinated dog of any age are susceptible to CDV but particularly puppies 2-6 months.
Early symptoms of the disease occur 3-6 days after initial infection. These mild symptoms may go unnoticed and include fever, mild conjunctivitis and loss of appetite. 6-14 days after infection symptoms worsen showing respiratory and gastrointestinal signs which may be complicated by secondary bacterial infections.
These symptoms may then be followed by more serious neurological signs – fits or seizures, twitching, shaking, trembling and ‘chewing-gum fits’. They often occur later in life and even into old age. Sadly, they are very difficult to control – we unfortunately often have to recommend that these dogs should be humanely euthanized. Some dogs may also develop erosions in their teeth or hardness of their foot pads or nose.
As the symptoms of CDV are highly characteristic of the virus we often have a high suspicion of the disease after examining your dog. We also need to perform a blood test for the virus – we then have the results in 10 minutes.
As CDV is viral there is no cure for the disease, consequently the bet treatment is nursing:
The prognosis depends on the strain of VDC and your dog’s immune system. Half of all dogs infected with CDV will die due to dehydration or neurological symptoms. This figure is much higher in puppies and up to 80% may die even with treatment. Also, some effects of CDV such as fits and dental problems may persist for many years after the initial infection. Dogs that recover will shed the virus for several weeks after the infection but do not continue to shed the virus for life.
CDV is easily prevented by proper vaccination. This means 2-3 vaccinations when a puppy, starting at 6-8 weeks old with the final vaccine at 12 weeks or older. At Animal Doctors International we recommend that your puppy be vaccinated at 6, 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age with yearly boosters after the primary course. Finally, if you have lost a dog due to distemper you should wait 1 month before introducing a new dog into your household as the virus can survive in the environment for a short time. You should also clean their living area with a 1:49 solution of bleach.