Pooh has distemper

On 10 December 2013, we admitted a puppy, about three months old, a mixed-breed dog, that was vomiting and had lost its appetite. Its name was Pooh and it had been in contact with another dog which suffered from distemper some ten days earlier. We applied the canine distemper virus antigen test and it turned out positive.
Canine distemper is a dangerous and highly contagious viral disease. Humans are not infected but spread the virus to dogs. Puppies aged from two to twelve months are typically affected. The disease is spread through nasal discharge, faeces, urine, infected food or water, beds and all objected used by the sick dog. An inadequate diet, cold and fatigue are the factors which make the pet more vulnerable to the infection.
The disease develops after a latent period of seven to twelve days and continues for several days up to a couple of months. The mortality rate is high, and surviving pets often continue to have lasting signs, such as deafness, blindness, loss of smell, paresis, paralysis, seizures and thickening of the skin. Distemper takes several main forms: ocular, pulmonary, gastrointestinal, neurological and cutaneous. All of them progress simultaneously rather than separately.
The acute phase of the disease is characterised by high fever with temperature over 40°С, loss of appetite, twitching and muscle spasms. The dog prefers to stay alone in the dark and dies in two or three days without developing the classical symptoms of the disease.
The pulmonary form is often combined with the ocular form. The bodily temperature runs over 40°С, appetite is generally lost, the dog is lethargic, the eyes are inflamed with pus discharge, the eyelids are swollen and sticky. Sometimes corneal ulcer develops. The accompanying signs are inflamed lungs and respiratory tract. The dog suffers from coughing, nose discharge, laboured breathing and accelerated heartbeat. The dog is very thirsty.
The gastrointestinal form of distemper is characterised by complete loss of appetite, vomiting and dry heaving, diarrhea and strong dehydration.
The signs of the neurological form are nervous muscle twitches and contractions, paresis and paralysis, and seizures. The dog is either excited or depressed. Typically, this form is the final stage of the disease progression and lethal. When distemper develops over a longer period of time, cutaneous signs appear, such as rash, pimples and vesicles on the inside of the thighs and the abdomen, which later turn into pustules.
The test confirmed that it was a case of distemper and Pooh remained at our clinic for treatment. The disease was of the gastrointestinal form with vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, and general lethargy. The pus conjunctival inflammation considered to be typical of canine distemper had not developed. The bodily temperature indicated no fever, being 38.6 °С at the time of the examination.
We chose the homeopathic method of treatment since the agent was a virus and the sick puppy was brought to the clinic at an early stage of the disease progression. Initially we applied three doses of Oscillococcinum at every two hours and continued with the medication only in the morning and in the evening during the following days. Besides, Pooh was administered the following homeopathic medication:
Mercurius Solubilis, Phosphorus, Ipeca, Coccus Cacti, Podophyllum, Colocynthis, China Rubra
We had to modify the therapy quite frequently because of the changing clinical signs. Acute inflammatory processes often change their clinical signs. The homeopathic method of treatment is based on a choice of medication whose therapeutic indications cover the clinical signs of the disease to the greatest extent. Therefore we modify the homeopathic prescription, depending on the varying clinical symptoms.
On the second day of hospitalisation, Pooh suffered mostly of vomiting. We brought it under control rapidly, but a watery exhausting diarrhea followed. Pooh was losing too much liquid and dehydrated. For that reason, we administered infusion solutions intravenously and, afterwards, subcutaneously. We had to add antibiotic treatment, Amoxicillin with clavulanic acid subcutaneously and sulphamethoxazole/trimethoprim per os.
After the fourth day of the treatment, our patient was eating small quantities without appetite.
On the fifth day of the treatment, the puppy recovered its appetite and became lively and playful. The only vestige of the disease was a painless diarrhea two or three times a day but it, too, disappeared during subsequent days. Pooh stayed with us for another three days during which it felt completely healthy without any complaints. Nevertheless, we did not stop the therapy. Our experience is that if the treatment is discontinued at the first signs of recovery, the clinical symptoms recur very quickly, sometimes in a more severe form.
Ten days later, Pooh was completely healthy and there were no symptoms. We applied the canine distemper virus antigen test and the result was negative. It meant that the organism had developed specific immunity and had overcome the virus.
Three other puppies which had been in contact were infected with distemper at the same time. Pooh was the only one to overcome the disease and survive, although it was the youngest of all and had only one vaccine administered. The other puppies, which were treated in the conventional way, developed the neurological form of distemper and died subsequently.
Author: Dr Nevena Mikova