Can dogs get measles?

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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
  • Fever
  • Abnormal jaw movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and sometimes paralysis
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions
  • Ocular and nasal discharge
  • Head tilt
  • Coughing
  • 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.

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