Can a dog recover from canine distemper!!

Canine distemper is undoubtedly a dreadful disease of dogs. Dogs do and can recover from the canine distemper. According to one estimate, fifty percent of adult dogs affected with canine distemper recover from the disease. In the case of pups, the chances of recovery are less, it is about 20%. 

To know about cure lets quickly go through the disease. 

The cause of canine distemper

The disease is caused by a virus belonging to family paramyxoviridae, closely resembling measles virus. This virus spreads through aerosol droplets. Therefore, when an infected dog sneezes on any unvaccinated dog there is a chance of contracting the disease. 

Some recovered or infected dogs sheds virus for months. Any healthy dogs coming in contact with these infected dogs may get the disease. 

Once the virus gets inside the dog's body it replicates fast inside the respiratory tract and goes into the gastrointestinal system, eyes, urogenital organs and also inside the central nervous system and nerves. 

According to Small animal Paediatrics Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a multisystemic viral disease of dogs that affects puppies most commonly aged between 3 and 6 months.

Signs we see in Canine distemper

A transient fever sets in for 3-6 days and there may be leukopenia or decrease in a number of white blood cells. 

The fever subsides for a few days but again relapses with more severity. The classical signs of distemper can now be seen. thick discharge from nose, eyes. The dog becomes lethargic, unable to walk or sometimes cannot even stand properly. 

The dog refuses to eat. In later stages of the disease, the dog loses control to hold pee or poop and poop involuntarily. 

If the dog survives this stage there will be a hardening of foot pads. 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="398"]Hyperkeratosis of foot pad Hardening of the foot pad[/caption]

There shall be Enamel hypoplasia in affected dogs.

Enamel hypoplasia in dogs suffering from canine distemper.

In later stages there can be seizures, both locally affecting only one or both limbs or generalizes seizure affecting the whole body.


Treatment- No specific treatment. Only symptomatic treatment is possible.

Some dogs recover without any disability, but the most permanent damage of their nerves.







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Options available for treating canine distemper

As mentioned above there is marked Leukopenia of lessening of a number of white blood cells in the blood. 

If by any means the number of white blood cells is raised then there is a fairly good chance of recovery.

According to AVMA there is no cure for distemper. Supportive therapy with fluid, antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection, measures to control neurological signs are done. about 30% of affected dogs survive, some survive with disabilities for life. 

Passive immunity

passive immunity through distemper immunoglobulin

In some countries Canine distemper immunoglobulin is available, unfortunately, this product is not available in U.S.A. This immunoglobulin raises the chance of recovery. This author has successfully treated many distemper dogs with this immunoglobulin.


This raising of WBC can be done by using some homeopathic medicine such as Distemperinum. According to IVC journal Distemperinum is effective in raising survival rates of affected puppies from 20% to 60%.



Acupuncture offers promising recovery from distemper. Acupuncture works like magic in recovered dogs or dogs suffering from neurological impairments caused due to distemper. 

There are several hospitals in U.S.A offering treatment of dogs through acupuncture. Some of those are Renton west veterinary hospital, Cascade park animal hospital, country care veterinary hospital

Another promising avenue of treatment is by using antiviral drugs. According to Kate E. Creevy, DVM, MS, DACVIM Antivirals such as ribavirin, given alone or in combination with interferon-alpha, have been shown to be effective against CDV.


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