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Outbreaks of measles are on the rise in the United States. This has made many people concerned about how this terrible disease can affect their families as well as their dogs. The outbreaks have made many dog mums and dads ask the question, can dogs get measles? The short answer to this is no; dogs cannot get measles or even transmit the virus to humans. However, dogs don't get off scot-free. In fact, dogs are susceptible to a virus known as canine distemper. Canine distemper is a virus that is in the same family as measles. Untreated, canine distemper can result in permanent neurological damage and can also be fatal.
What is canine distemper?
As already mentioned, the canine distemper virus
(CDV) is a virus that comes from the same family as the measles virus. There
are many symptoms that dogs with CDV display. Some of them are as follows.
- Hardening of the paw pads
- Abnormal jaw movements
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and sometimes paralysis
- Ocular and nasal discharge
- Head tilt
- Stumbling or walking in circles
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Transmission occurs through direct contact between
dogs. The disease can also be transmitted through coughing and sneezing. CDV
doesn’t pose any threat to humans. However, many other species of animals such
as foxes, wolves, skunks, ferrets, and bears are susceptible to it.
Canine distemper is treated very seriously as there
isn’t any cure for it. Fluids, antibiotics, and management of symptoms until
the disease has run its course is how the disease is treated. Most dogs who
survive canine distemper suffer permanent neurological damage. While the virus
is highly contagious, it can be prevented through vaccination.
What is the canine measles vaccine?
The canine measles vaccine is a vaccine that was
used to protect young puppies from CDV. Maternal antibodies would deactivate
the CDV vaccine if the vaccine was given to puppies while they were quite
young, which would leave the puppies vulnerable to infection. The canine
measles vaccine was used as the first line of defense against CDV until puppies
were old enough for the maternal CDV antibodies to weaken.
The canine measles vaccine isn’t used as much now as
modern CDV vaccines are much more effective. Modern CDV vaccines are usually
given to puppies at intervals of 3 to 4 weeks until puppies reach 16 weeks old.
While measles and
distemper are from the same family, measles isn't a risk to dogs. However, dogs
haven't got off easy as they are quite susceptible to canine distemper.
Prevention is possible through the correct vaccination, which is why you should
make sure that your dog has all of the appropriate vaccinations in his/her
system. If you're concerned about canine distemper, a visit to your
veterinarian would be the best course of action.