Treating Canine Distemper Virus – conference recording

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , /

(applause) Thank you. So we’re going to
start with distemper and this one, I think is probably going to be a little longer than
30 minutes, but I’ll try to go fast through parvo since we’ve already covered a little
bit already through the Boulder program, which is great. And also you’ve got a lot of information
in your handouts from our program and the Boulder program for parvo.
NS: So distemper in Austin, we had a distemper outbreak in the spring of 2010. And we treated
over 200 cases of suspected distemper. We didn’t test distemper when we got the animals
in our shelter. Some of them were tested at the city shelter before they came to us, or
before they were euthanized, so we knew we were dealing with a distemper problem, but
we didn’t test every single dog. So I’m just throwing that out there because it definitely,
these are assumptions. So as we worked through our dogs that we thought had distemper we
found that not all of them got neurological signs, in fact a large portion of them didn’t
get neurological signs, and if they didn’t they had about a 90% save rate, if they were
over 8 weeks. So there’s lots of ifs in there. But younger puppies have a much harder
time if they get just plain old pneumonia and the horrible KCS and respiratory, but
no neuro signs then we had a pretty good success rate of treating them and gettig them through
it. If they developed the neurological signs then there seemed to be a higher mortality
associated with them. The dogs over four months of age, age had a huge part of this, and I’m
sure that if we did titer testing, we didn’t do titer testing but I’m sure if we did
titer testing we would see that it may just be titer, not necessarily age, and those probably
go hand in hand, but the older puppies had a better save rate.
NS: So why bother? That’s a good question, because this is a horrible disease and when
it goes through shelters it wipes out a lot of dogs and it’s really difficult to treat.
But what we were trying to do is save the difficult animal, so we felt like, well, we’ve
got to try to save these dogs. Especially because we were seeing that a lot of them
were savable, that they were living through it, so we felt like we needed to tackle it
and try to deal with it. It’s a shelter disease, so these dogs that made it out of
the shelter alive in the first place and then were dying of a shelter disease, it’s just,
the tragedy of it is overwhelming too. So again, that was another reason why we wanted
to tackle it, is give these guys a chance. They already made it through the gauntlet
and then to just die of something that they picked up at the shelter is really sad. It
takes a long time to fully manifest. I’m sure people already know that, if anybody’s
seen it. And many puppies are already adopted by the time they come down with full-blown
symptoms because we don’t necessarily do a quarantine period for our puppies in the
summertime when we don’t have a lot of… we can’t keep up with the numbers that are
coming in. So, if they get it then we treat it. So if they’re adopted or they’re in
foster we deal with it. NS: And this is just, you guys already know
this, it’s spread through respiratory droplets, up to four feet away of coughing. You can
spread it by having dirty hands, going from one cage to another. It doesn’t live very
long in the environment so it’s actually harder to spread than parvo, as far as like
on your shoes or puppies licking your clothes. But it is spread through air. So that makes
it a much harder, especially when you’re dealing with crowded environments and shelters
that don’t have the greatest barriers or… NS: …paths to get through the shelter. So,
symptoms. It attacks each organ. I like to think of it as a disease that rolls through
the different organ system. Every week it’s like the flavor of the week. Whatever the
distemper decides to get it gets. And generally we see it start with the respiratory symptom
and/or diarrhea, and then that’ll kind of wax and wane and then it’ll be back and
you’ll start to see them improve from that first symptom, and then something else pops
up. And so that might be skin problems. We’ve seen a couple cases of really horrible yeast
infections all over their entire body. You can see KCS with the eyes stop producing tears.
And conjunctivitis of course, is pretty common. But those dogs that just won’t open their
eyes, I used to think it was all conjunctivitis, and probably it’s conjunctivitis… KCS
induced by conjunctivitis, but they aren’t producing tears. So getting them… we’ll
talk about treatment in a second. So we also see diarrhea – a lot of times it’s bloody.
These dogs are often mistaken as parvo positives even though the test is negative. So they
come to us and the shelter might say, “We think it has parvo because of the bloody diarrhea,
but the test is negative.” And then we put it in kind of a semi-quarantine, do a test,
24 hours, it’s still negative, then distemper pops up to the top of the list if we’ve
already started antidiarrheal and antiparasitical treatments.
NS: Waxing and waning symptoms, up and down fever, dry eye, ticks and tremors, seizures.
We see night terrors where some of these dogs are vocalizing at night in their sleep and
they might even wake themselves up and run against the wall and run into the wall. Really
strange behavior, but we’ve seen several cases of that. And uncommon but deadly signs;
when they can’t swallow they kind of a mega esophagus problem where their esophagus just
stops working. If they can’t control their breathing we’ve seen several cases where
dogs, it’s a really weird symptom, they won’t open their mouth to pant, but they
can’t get air, so they’re labored breathing and their gums are going in and out, but they
can’t, they won’t open their mouth. And those are obviously deadly because they’re
not moving oxygen. If they can’t swallow, they can’t eat. We’ve decided, just kind
of like our feline leukemia, we’re not going to go through placing esophageal tubes or
peg tubes for dogs that can’t swallow, but we will force feed and we’ll do a lot of
supportive care. Enamel hypoplasia. I’ve seen several dogs come into the shelter with
enamel hypoplasia, and sometimes tremors, and they’re not active distemper. If you
see the enamel change on an incoming animal, that’s a dog that you can put into your
program because the disease is long gone, that’s a remnant from when the disease was
there and present. They shouldn’t be contagious anymore.
NS: Diagnosis. It’s not easy. There is a PCR test and titer testing. And we have started
doing some PCR testing with the help of Dr. Levy, which has, you can see at the bottom
we tested a sample of 12 dogs and most of those represented litters of dogs so that
was a pretty big sample pool. One was negative. This dog had seizures. He came into us with
bloody diarrhea and seizures, but he was a two pound some sort of terrier mix. And we
always just treat symptomatically so we started him on dextrose and phenobarbital and then
parvo treatment even though he tested negative for parvo. And he actually came out of it
in seven days. We don’t know what his problem was, but apparently it wasn’t distemper.
The two negatives, I don’t believe that they were actually negative because littermates
from those two dogs died of symptoms that are consistent with distemper. So I don’t
know if maybe those dogs just weren’t shedding, or if the test just gave us a false negative,
or it really is negative and I just can’t think of any other disease that would cause
the symptoms of tremoring and seizures with waxing and waning upper respiratory infection.
One of them maybe, but the other one definitely not. And then nine positives. So the reason
that I like that is that it helps to support that what we we’re seeing is what we think
we’re seeing when we’re making these assumptions. NS: Prevention – vaccinate before intake.
That is the most important, I know we talked about it yesterday, and I’m going to kind
of beat you up a little bit with some slides on it because it’s the most important thing
that you can do. Distemper is a manmade problem. We don’t like to think that it happens in
our shelters, but it does. And it is devastating. And separating dogs, trying to do some isolation
when they come in, and quarantine, keeping them at least four feet away, not sharing
water bowls unless they come in together. And there’s some… obviously if we all
had the money to put in the great ventilation systems that would help a lot with distemper,
but we don’t and I think that we just have to follow the things above. Vaccinating before
intake is the very most important thing that you can possibly do because of its ability
to stop this virus. It’s a very easy virus to prevent. I think that’s something that
we forget. It’s so easy to prevent, it’s really hard to treat.
NS: The importance of intake vaccines. This is a sample of the dogs. Again, none of these
were tested. We treated 76 during the outbreak, 13 of those died, and that was out of 480
that we took in total. NS: The number – that’s just through the
month, so you can see that huge spike in April. NS: The vaccine guidelines – this is important,
and I bolded the part that’s really important. This came from AAHA and it is strongly recommended
that immediate vaccination on entry be made a priority in all shelters. Delaying vaccination,
even by a few hours, may increase the risk of infection subsequent to exposure. And that
is directed at distemper. This is a disease that we can prevent if we can just get on
top of those vaccines. And I’ve worked with two shelters that swore they were giving the
vaccines before intake, and when the procedures were actually observed, they weren’t. There
were huge gaps. And so some of the animals were getting vaccinated on intake and some
weren’t. And I like the words “before intake” not “on intake,” because that
is a specific time – do it in the lobby, do it before they even walk through the doors
to go into the kennels. NS: Okay, so we got the data from our city
shelter of what was going on. And again, we were told everybody was getting vaccinated,
we knew they weren’t getting vaccinated and we knew the ones that were getting sick
were also in that group that wasn’t vaccinated. And so there was a huge discrepancy, and this
isn’t to beat up our city shelter, I think that this is a problem in all large shelters
is that sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and even
if you have a protocol in place it doesn’t mean that it’s being followed. There needs
to be follow-through to make sure that somebody, especially the veterinarian, is in charge
of ensuring that it’s occurring 100% of the time. So, this is the total animals taken
into our city shelter, and you can see that 37% received vaccines late or never, 63% received
vaccines on time. We don’t know the time they were given, that’s just same day. So
on time for us means same day. NS: And I’m going back to the slide before
that. The ones that we got, there’s a higher prevalence in the ones that we got that were
sick. Because we’re taking the bottom of the barrel that didn’t get vaccines, it
makes up a higher percentage of the ones we got, not the total population at the shelter.
Hopefully that makes sense, I’m kind of confusing it.
NS: (flips to next one) NS: These are just some examples, and it kind
of shows the timeline of the disease and how long it takes to cause problems. This little
adorable dog on the left, he was not vaccinated because he was an aggressive small breed dog,
and he was there for 14 days with no vaccines and then we pulled him, he got adopted immediately
and he was euthanized a few weeks after the fact because it took that long. So that’s
a month and a half, or a little bit over a month for the disease to become fulminant
and kill him. And that’s one reason I think that large shelters don’t even realize the
importance of vaccines because they don’t see the aftermath. The animals, if there’s
a high percentage that are dying then you may never even know what you’re spreading
in your shelter because they don’t make it out. So of the ones that do, again, the
bottom of the barrel are the ones that are in the bottom of the 50% that have the higher
percentage of not being vaccinated, so you don’t even know the harm that it’s causing
because they previously aren’t making it out. Pedro, on the right, was vaccinated.
He died two weeks after he came into the shelter, but he sat there for four days with no vaccines.
And this little puppy came into the shelter. He was vaccinated one day late, his entire
litter, and they all underwent treatment and they all survived, but it was a huge amount
of work. NS: Distemper – so no excuse for not vaccinating
before intake. It’s hard, really hard to ensure that it’s happening, but I hope that
you’re getting it, and I’m sure that most people in this room are already aware of the
importance of it, but it’s the most important I think we can do as shelter veterinarians
is to make sure that nothing happens harmful while on our watch. A hundred percent of the
animals have to be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic. And I liked what one of the speakers
yesterday said, that unless the animal is leaving again, back through the front door,
it gets a vaccine, even if it’s dying. I mean, unless you’re taking it directly to
be euthanized, and even in the case in San Antonio, we’ll take animals from the euthanasia
list that are sitting in the euthanasia room and guess what, they’re lined up next to
a whole bunch of animals that have distemper. And if the vaccine can just be given to everybody,
no matter what their outcome, and in most of these big shelters there’s actually funding
for that, it’s just follow-through – making sure that it actually happens. And it may
not make sense to the person who doesn’t do it, but then what if somebody like us comes
on the back end and says, “Well, we’ll take that little puppy and give it a try.”
But like I said, he’s already been exposed to a whole bunch of bad stuff.
NS: They work immediately. So even though they’re not 100% protective, if they have
just a little bit of immunity that could prevent the fulminant disease. And I think that’s
one reason why we saw so much pneumonia and not the full-on neuro signs is because a lot
of these animals were vaccinated, hopefully before they came into contact with the virus.
So the treatment is waiting it out. It’s a waiting game. You just have to react every
time it acts. And so it chooses what it wants to do, it chooses which organ system it’s
going to ravage. It chooses how long. And you just have to wait it out. And if you can
wait it out for two to three months, typically, then you win. And if the dog survives you
win. So treating the symptoms: time, two to three months is a really long time. And most,
you know these dogs can’t be in the shelter, obviously they’ve got a communicable disease
so they need to be in a foster home. Providing supportive care and informing your fosters
of what this means. We don’t do surgery if we think that they might have distemper,
even it means we have to adopt them out and then have them come back for surgery, because
the stress of surgery on their immune system, if we think it’s gone and then we do surgery
and then it pops back up three days after the surgery, then we’ve just undone all
the good that we were trying to get accomplished in the first three months of treatment. Systemic
steroids – for some reason out there in the literature it’s… you know, some people
use steroids and I just would caution against it because you don’t want to immuno-compromise
them any further than they’re already compromised. We do use a lot of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
which are really helpful, but I would not use prednisone.
NS: Okay, so lowered immune system. We often see parvo with distemper. It causes susceptibility
to other infections which is why you’re using antibiotics. It’s a virus, we all
know that. But they get secondary bacterial infections that are really terrible, and so
it’s critical that they’re on antibiotics the whole time.
NS: Long course of treatment, and we just take it one day at a time. And that’s what
we tell fosters, is that every single day we’ll reassess, and if we’re having a
particularly bad day then we’ll talk about it and see kind of where we are, and if the
foster is not willing to continue then we don’t. But if they are then we just keep
going and every day you get a little bit further down the line of the two to three month time
period. So these… I adopted one of our first distemper puppies, and she had terrible bronchiectasis,
and just chronic pneumonia. She only lived a year. It’s horrible, horrible, horrible.
But I did a lot of research on what we should be doing for antibiotics and talking to specialists.
And I was kind of surprised to learn that there’s only two antibiotics that really
dig down deep into the lung tissue, and that’s Baytril and Zithromax. And so for dogs that
have pneumonia those are our go-to drugs. If they don’t have fulminant pneumonia we’ll
use doxycycline or some of the Clavamox. You know, a lot of the other standard antibiotics,
but these are the two that are going to penetrate down deep and hopefully prevent bronchiectasis
from being the end result after the pneumonia is done. And often we have to use both because
they’ll spike a fever even while they’re on, and we don’t know if it’s the virus
or more bacteria. We don’t have the money to do a bunch of cultures so we’re just
treating empirically which I know is not the greatest but it works.
NS: And then supportive care. I would not recommend using one of those little boxes,
but it’s the only picture I could find of a nebulizer. We have like 40 nebulizers in
our stock at Austin Pets Alive! and we lend them out to different fosters. So when we’re
having terrible upper respiratory in cats, everybody, the cat people will get nebulizers
and nebulizing solution and then when the distemper happened a lot of our fosters would
have the nebulizers, and that just makes it easier for the animal to get treatment without
a huge cost. And also, it’s something, because it’s kind of like a capital cost it’s
donor friendly so you can get people to help buy those for you because it’s something
that will stay in the organization forever, unless people don’t return (which does happen).
But you want them back. And we usually just use a small crate and cover it with a sheet
or a blanket and then run the nebulizer. You just have to make sure they don’t get too
hot. NS: So treating the GI symptoms. Deworming,
making sure they’ve gotten rid of all the parasites because again, they’re immuno-compromised.
If somebody else is eating their nutrients and sucking away their life force, we want
to stop that. So having them on a dewormer, a broad spectrum dewormer, maybe we’ll do
all the dewormers because sometimes you don’t even see coccidian on a fecal slide. But if
they’re having diarrhea we just kind of throw the whole book at them. And we do fluids,
keep them hydrated. Generally the diarrhea is quick, in and out. We don’t see a ton
of it staying there for weeks and weeks. It might come back, like they’ll do seven days
of diarrhea and then a few days off and then it comes back, but then it’s typically done.
Whereas the respiratory can come up and down, up and down, up and down for five or six times
even. Vomiting and not eating we just treat symptomatically. Reglan, Pepcid, force feeding,
trying different foods. A lot of these dogs don’t want to eat because the last thing
they ate made them feel nauseous so you’ve got to mix it up a little bit. And our mantra
is, we don’t care what it is, just as long as they’re eating something, then we’re
continuing on the path of just getting through it. So that’s why all these human foods
are on here. NS: Treatment for conjunctivitis. In KCS we
don’t use steroids. BNP is good, is just a great eye antibiotic for dogs. And artificial
tears – if you think it’s KCS, which I think a lot of them are. Cyclosporine – we
get a lot of it donated because a lot of elderly animals die and then people bring their meds
over to us – their owners do. And so we keep that like it’s gold because we can’t
afford to buy it, and then we parcel out little tiny… we break it up so people get little
tiny pieces of it. And it typically goes away also pretty quickly, 7-14 days. It’s not
a permanent condition, unless there’s scarring to the eye from the problem.
NS: And treatment for skin. They get skin problems. It they’re already on antibiotics,
we typically just don’t worry about it. Just treat them symptomatically – oatmeal
baths, cortisone cream, stuff like that. NS: Tremors and tics. There’s no treatment
available for tics. I read a study about botox being used, and I’d love to see that actually
put into practice, but we have not used it yet. And a lot of times it seems like the
tics come from really central nerves so I’m not sure how you’d get it in there, but
it’s an interesting thought. The only thing that stops it is general anesthesia. So there’s
no point in trying, I guess the point of that is there’s no point in trying to find a
miracle drug that is gonna stop it. There’s not anything out there. The gabapentin helps
with pain. It seems a lot of times they experience pain, especially at the beginning of tremors.
It’s something that they acclimate to. And if they go away, which is our hope, then it’s
worth it. But putting them on nsaids and gabapentin seem to be a good mix. And the tics that Dr.
Schaal, who’s a neurologist, said that there’s nothing else that causes those tics that you
see that are kind of like the methodical jerking. And so for us if they do develop that neurological
sign then it sounds like we can bet that that’s definitely distemper.
NS: Treatment for seizures – we use phenobarbital; we do a huge loading dose on day one. We don’t
send valium home with people, or IV phenobarb. So we just do a huge oral loading dose. And
for the most part that stops the seizures. And then we do a daily dose after that. Typically
they stop seizing in 7-10 days. Sometimes they never seize again. Once we load them
up and keep them on it for 7-10 days and then wean them off. Keppra we use, it’s not controlled.
And so that’s a great drug because you can order it and just keep it in your pharmacy
and if you have vet techs helping you prescribe the stuff you don’t have to keep track of
it which is awesome. And again, load them up at the higher dose, and you can go a lot
higher than that too. Zonisamide is also not controlled, and that’s a good one. And it’s
important, the minute somebody reports a seizure, just start them on it. There’s no reason
to wait until they go into cluster seizures, or back to back seizing, just start it immediately.
NS: Supportive care. Vitamin C, puppy vitamins. Every puppy, every dog gets on vitamins. We
do acepromazine – this is one that, I don’t know why it helps, but the last distemper
puppy that I had that I was fostering, he was having the night terrors and the ace really
helped him sleep through the night. So I don’t know why it helps, but it does. I mean, it
obviously makes them sleepy but there are so many other drugs in this cocktail that
he should be sleepy from, I don’t know why ace did the trick. And high protein diet,
immune support. Those, they can’t hurt and they might help.
NS: New Castle vaccine. This is something that’s obviously hugely controversial. There’s
zero really good evidence to prove that it’s helpful in any way, shape or form. We started
using it because we felt like when we were having the outbreak and we had so many people
invested in these animals, so many fosters invested in each individual, the fosters always
find it. They always find it on the internet. So we were just like, alright fine, if you
get some we’ll try it because we don’t know what our success rate on saving these
dogs is anyway, why not try it? And what we found is that it’s not dangerous, we’ve
had zero side effects from it. I don’t think it helps, but interestingly, the 24 hours
after we give it IV they seem to be better. And I don’t know if it’s just the stimulation
of coming to the vet clinic and getting a shot, or if it’s truly related to the New
Castle, but it definitely doesn’t have any long lasting effects that I can tell. Of course
some of these animals made it, and it could be because of the New Castle, but I don’t
think so. We do the IV and then we have not… we’ve done the serum I think on a couple
of dogs, but not since then. And there is somebody in Austin that does the spinal injection
and we sent five dogs there, they were all funded through ChipIns, and three of them
survived. Again, I don’t know if it was related to that or not.
NS: Isolation, they need to be in foster homes or someplace really far away from other dogs.
Ozzy’s Team is a group. This little dog had distemper and there were a group of people
that shared custody of him while he was going through his treatment, and he ultimately didn’t
make it but they did tons of research. They wrote up a whole bunch of stuff for people
to take care of other dogs, and they developed a support group so that if our other fosters
were going through it, because it’s such a drain, an emotional drain, that having some
people to just talk it through and be like, “Oh, have you tried this?” and “what
about this recipe for food?” And it’s nice to have that. And I think that any city
could do that with, anybody that’s nursed a dog through distemper becomes the expert
and then you can get them to mentor new people. NS: These are kind of the reasons that we’ll
go ahead and euthanize. One is they can’t swallow. We’ve already talked about that.
We need to make sure it’s not because they are too sleep to swallow, or because of drugs
or that it’s vomiting or not wanting to eat, but that they’re actually trying to
eat and they can’t get it down. And it just keeps falling out of the side of their mouth
or it regurgitates right back up and it’s kind of that classic trying to tell the difference
between vomiting and regurgitation. If they can’t breathe, as long as we’ve had them
on strong antibiotics, we’ve had a few cases where the foster didn’t show up for their
refill and 48 hours later the dog is in extreme respiratory distress. We don’t euthanize
for that, we put them on oxygen. Or before we had oxygen tanks we would nebulize just
24/7 and start them on IV Baytril, and they actually came out of it. They started breathing
better within 24 hours. So if it’s because of a lapse of antibiotics, that’s not a
good reason to euth, but if you’re already doing all the antibiotics and they still can’t
breathe obviously the humane thing is to not make them keep trying. If they can’t move
at all, we’ve had some puppies that are completely paralyzed, and we decide to call
it at that point. And if they can’t stop seizing despite medication. And also, if the
caretaker says they just can’t deal with it anymore, it’s not like we have distemper
caretakers laying around that want to take on one of these dogs, so if they’ve had
enough then it’s okay to euth, of course. NS: General course of treatment is a couple
of months. Our job is just to outlast it. NS: You can pretty much bank on it being gone
for good if you’ve had no symptoms within 10-14 days. So if you see your last new symptom,
or last recurrent symptom and then you wait another 10-14 days, you can pretty much assume
you’re done. Even if you still have tremors or something that is continuing that is a
longer lasting problem, as long as there’s no new problem or worsening of an old problem
then that seems to be the end of it. And the seizures don’t appear to be long term, which
is something that I’d always thought was the case. But we’ve had zero of these dogs
go on to have long term seizures. And the tics do continue for a long time. I have a
dog that I adopted ten years ago with distemper, and she had whole body twitches and we really
didn’t know if we should euthanize her or keep her alive, because we couldn’t see
how she could possibly sleep. But she kept eating, she kept playing, so we were like,
“Okay, we’ll just keep going.” And after three years her tics stopped altogether. So
she’s had no ticks for the last seven years, which I don’t understand at all because
I thought that neurological progress ends at about a six month mark, but anyway. So
like I said, where there’s life, there’s hope. The eyes, if they’re not treated appropriately
you can lose eyes. Cataracts, we’ve had one dog develop cataracts after the fact,
and I found an article that said that cataracts can be post-distemper. Enamel hypoplasia is
to be expected. NS: How long contagious? I don’t know. I
don’t think anybody really knows. I would assume since this is a respiratory virus and
an excretion virus, that diarrhea and coughing would be your major sources of spread. So
if those symptoms are gone and gone for good, then probably it’s not contagious, but I
certainly wouldn’t try it with an unvaccinated dog around.
NS: So, this is just a case study. This is a dog named Reba that was at the shelter.
She came in hit by a car. Her leg was broken. She was there for her three day stray hold
and she didn’t get vaccinated because of her fracture.
NS: We pulled her out, like most of our fractures it’s not that big of a deal so we’ll take
her. And the day we pulled her out she had a 104 fever and she started to develop sniffles
right after the fact. This is kind of at the beginning of our outbreak so we didn’t even
know that that was what was wrong with her. She was over sniffles by the time we sent
her for surgery for an FHA. This is another good reason to wait on your FHO, it’s a
salvage procedure and if there’s any chance at all that that dog’s incubating distemper
there’s no reason to make them go through surgery early. So the day of surgery she developed
an eye infection. We were kind of like, “Well, that’s weird,” but we didn’t really
pay much attention to it. NS: Sent her to surgery, she became weak and
wobbly after surgery. Her eye infection got a lot worse, and then she became really paranoid.
This is a super friendly dog and her behavior changed where she was just alarmed by things
that were happening around her. She was scared of her foster. And we were like, “Okay,
this is starting to look more like distemper. We started the New Castle vaccine, we started
her on anti-seizure medicine, and oral antibiotics because her upper respiratory symptoms were
back but they weren’t severe. And her fever continued to stay up. And we started her on
a second antibiotic. She became paralyzed in her back end and she was on these other
medications to help deal with symptoms. NS: And I couldn’t get the video to load,
but this is a picture of her. You can see her left eye is bulbous and really irritated
from the KCS, and was dead at this point. Her back end, she’s paralyzed but she’s
walking around the yard. She would go through these awake seizures. This is one of the only
dogs I’ve ever been bitten by because she would, when the foster went out of town I’d
take care of her. And she would be in the yard and she would just kind of running towards
you. And I kept running away and then she would stop. But then I was like, “Well,
I wonder if she just wants comfort?” So I just stood there and she bit me right on
the butt. (laughs, and audience laughs) So I think she was having some weird seizure
activity and they’re just not in the right head at all.
NS: Okay, so the paralysis continued. This is of course, a bad… well, all distemper’s
bad, but this is kind of the worst it gets with the neurological symptoms. Paralysis
continued. The foster noticed light movement in one rear leg about a month after she became
paralyzed. And her eye infection continued but we decided we were not going to do surgery
on that eye no matter what, because we didn’t want to decrease her immune system. And she
wasn’t spayed yet. She was heartworm positive. She had a lot of things that she was supposed
to get done that we were just like, “Forget it, let’s just see if she lives first and
then we’ll deal with those problems later.” And her seizures were under control for the
most part, except for that weird activity. We started her going to physical therapy and
then we had a physical therapist give us a really good deal. We were able to raise money
for her through a ChipIn. NS: And here’s a video of her at physical
therapy. VIDEO: (audio starts 32:22) “It’s amazing.”
(video continues to play and lecturer speaks) Lecturer: So her legs are all beat up from
dragging, but she started actually getting motor function, which is unbelievable. And
we kept going, but you know, the question is – why did we keep going? And again, every
day this dog would eat and you’re just like, when she gets to the point we would talk,
the foster and I would talk, and when she gets to the point where she doesn’t feel
like eating then that’s when we need to call it. And she just kept eating. Every day,
she kept eating. It was something different every day, but she did keep eating.
NS: So her legs continued, she can walk on all four… Her improvement continued, she
can walk on all four legs now. We were finally able to do her spay three months after she
got the disease, and her heartworm treatment after that. And then…
NS: …this is a video of her now, which is awesome. (video plays) It’s the outcome
you hope for when you go through that much pain and suffering and they go through that
much pain and suffering. (dog barks) (lecturer laughs) She’s not normal, but she’s pretty
close! (Applause)

57 thoughts on “Treating Canine Distemper Virus – conference recording

  1. Click here for related content and the quiz to receive a Certificate of Attendance!

  2. Please visit
    Try treating with ndv serum instead of the vaccine alone. It works well even 2 weeks or more after going neuro..

  3. i got a 8 month old puppy from romania she suffered from distemper (carre) she was treated with canglob and healed up later loss of functions is not known

  4. Could be possible that this video wiil be subtitled to spanish? in México the most veterinarians recommend killing animals showing signs of distemper, it would be great to spread this video to save more lives. We have a shelter and we have five survivors of distemper, two of them with strong neurological signs but negative test snap distemper damage and even sacrifice we recommend these

  5. Treat with Newcastle Disease Vaccine. It acts as an immune stimulator, protocol first developed by Dr. Alson Sears DVM. My dog, Carmella was completely cured of it in both body and CNS in 2008. Contact Kind Hearts in Action for more info on process.

  6. If you have any doubt that NDV works call and speak with Dr. Peter Muller at Briarcliff Animal Clinic in Atlanta, GA. He's had success with many dogs!

  7. My dog initially had myoclonus in one hind leg. It disappeared completely at age 5. Stem cells can regenerate this damage several years after treatment. Behavioral symptoms resolved also. (compulsive chewing on people; not so much aggressive but more reflexive). Treatment with NDV in both body and CNS was 100% curative. She's now 7 years old with no remnants of the disease at all.

  8. Woops, correction; hind leg myoclonus disappeared within just a few days of neuro treatment with NDV. It was the front leg myoclonus that went away at age 5.

  9. For anyone who has to experience this horrible disease (BTW this video helped me sooo much) here are the stages in which it affected all three of my dogs: 1st sign) lack of energy. Dog seems healthy and ok but you notice they aren't as energetic as usual. (example you call them they sit and wag tail look happy but don't get up to greet you) also somewhat more sleepy. 2nd sign immediately follows the next day or two, little to no appetite. Some mention diarrhea, but mine had normal stools, never had diarrhea. Skipping meals and little interest in food even treats. No drinking of water. At this point you need to seek a vet asap. Let me tell you the vet really won't do anything for the dog and even if it was distemper, I promise you there's nothing the vet can do that you can't do at home. Dont pay for a test to check if it's parvo or distemper, unless you have that kind of dough. It's a complete waste of money. Distemper and Parvo are viruses and a virus really only requires the same treatment the flu does. Point is, they are sick. What you should ask from your vet is an IV with fluids. This is ALL you need from them. YOU CAN SAVE YOUR DOG IN THIS STAGE AND AVOID THE NEXT HORRIBLE STAGES if you just get that IV and start hydrating your dog. About the time they eat normally is when to give them the IV the size of their paw is enough fluids until the next meal time. You also need to give water in the mouth. Get a medicine syringe and every two hours about 3ml of water. Buy liquid or gel vitamins and give 2x a day, a small amount. 3rd stage: a cold. sneezing, mild cough, and the KEY symptom runny nose, leaking eyes. Clean their eyes and nose frequently. If nose is dry use Vaseline. Final stage: seizures and ticks. One. if my dogs would lick in the air for minutes at a time. This is a sign of the disease spreading to the spinal cord and brain. this is heart breaking to watch. One dog was worse than the other for me. If your dog makes it through a couple days of this and is still alive despite how terrible they look, you made it! your dog will be back to normal with constant hydration, vitamins, and lots of love. my oldest dog looked awful at this point. skinny, ticking and weak. First sign of recovery: tail wagging again, finnaly able to get up to walk even for a min, a tiny interest in food again, drinking water on their own even if just a few licks. Offer small treats and give lots of love at this point you'll have your baby back again. Clean, bleach, and soap EVERYTHING. You dont want them to contract it again even though it is a virus, they can give it to another dog. Education is key. All my dogs recovered but one of my dogs has permanent ticks. It's been a year she still has them but she's completly happy and healthy!

  10. Thank you for posting this presentation and for doing the work with the dogs. I am the breeder of a pup that came down with Distemper a few weeks ago. I forwarded this to the owner/vet and they are using the information on the video to help with treatment of this pup. She's 3 weeks in and doing ok. She has good and bad days but it looks like she will survive. She was about 11 weeks when first symptoms appeared.

  11. Thank you very much for sharing. I got a dog from bosnia that was really bad with distemper and neurological effects, too. She just kept falling down WHEN trying to walk, neurological ticks, pneumonia, conjunctivitis, bad skin, decayed nose and pads. 1st vet advised to kill her, 2nd one "did not want to give a perspective" but I wanted to give it a try and found your video as a guideline. I did all except the New Castle Vaccicine and the vets wouldn't give me all the medics for the respirator so it was only NaCl in that. It was really hard work but it's been only 4 weeks and she is totally changed! She walks and starts running like every other dog, nose got much better, pneumonia left… only the skin is some more work and the tics stay, but it nearly is a miracle to us. My compliments to your great work and again: Thanks for sharing. I wish more vets would know about that.

  12. this is an awesome presentation. I am happy that I found it as I will continue to give my dog the supportive care. We will get through this. Thank you

  13. my dog is suffering frm distemper…. doctor said he has givn serum first shot, again he said to come after 48hrs…. I donno anything abt this treatment… can anyone say this

  14. hi…my dog died fom distemper virus yesterday…it was a two-weeks battle for all of us….now my other dog has cough and runny nose but there was no eye discharge….i isolated her right after knowing that my other dog has distemper now im afraid that he might acquire the same virus because before they share the same water bowl….do you think my dog has distemper too?

  15. Hi there.may I also add my experience here from saving my dog from advanced neurodistemper(frequent seizures,falling down-not paralysed though).For one, I did all what the amazing video above teaches.Secondly, I loaded her with a lot of vitamins .Echinacea, cod liver oil vitamin C pycnogenol, taurine, Lysine., evening primrose oil.The great improvement came from pycnogenol 30mg 4 times a day , vitamin C 1gr 3times a day and feeding raw bief minced meat with its blood ,diluted with a little water to let through the feeding syringe, enough days during which she did not want to eat at all.The moment I was desperate that she would stop swallowing, she started eating normally again.So please dont despair.Neurodistemper can be cured.It requires love, time and devotion from you.I did all the vitamins and feeding 3 times a day ,each time needing 2 hours for all the feeding and the supplements.I also gave her homeopathic treatment, aconitum 200c (opened the capsule in the mouth and let the powder be absorbed from the gums) and Pulsatilla 200c to improve the eye condition and her aversion to water.I never gave B vitamins as I read that they help spread the virus in the nervous system and because the raw meat has all the B vitamins especially B12 so why give an extra.I also was ready to give from mouth a very low daily dose 30 IU InterferonA(Roferon) as I read about good results with it(boost the immune system) but apparently did not have to.I think the high mortality rate because of this disease comes from the fact that most vets advise euthanasia once it enters the neurostage and not that much because of the disease itself.Of course many puppies die especially in the early stages and many others because they do not get the proper intensive treatment.All this ordeal requires a lot of willpower and a lot of time from the caretaker and how many have those two in abundance?Sarah Lee I liked your post here you gave me courage!

  16. Dear Dr.Jefferson,If I notice no seizures after 7-10 days overload with Keppra (I give 20mg /kilo 3times a day) do I stop it completely?And what if the seizures start again? those were so frightening seizures.

  17. Ok I saw some one use dewormer on a dog with distemper and the dog died.The sad part was that the dog was doing better before hand. In the 9th day his systems showed.I don't know about that. And i vaccinated my dog for it and she still got it.Please if you can explain to me how that happened. I have a general idea on whats really going on with this virus.

  18. My puppy is caused by Canine Distemper. She is not able to stand without others help. But she is standing and run with Shevering. She can't ate food. How to recover it …???

  19. My dog has been diagnosed with Distemper but not totally because in the was negative but the vet said he has the signs of Distemper..please help…I really really really reallly really DO NOT want to loser my dog..pls help me….

  20. Hi, I speak mainly spanish. I hope with all my heart that you can answer my questions.
    My dog is two years old Schnauzer. 7 weeks ago he got CDV cause he was never vaccinated, he had respiratory symptoms, anorexya, KCS, hyperkeratosis.
    He now looks really good and happy, we are giving a good fight until now. However, actual symptoms are three: KCS, Hyperkeratosis and less frequent TICS.

    My questions are:

    3) Hyperkeratosis treatment is vaseline only? I worry about his pads and nose.
    4) He is not producing tears yet, he's using artificial tears only. My Vet did not recomended Cyclosporine, but because of searching and investigating over internet I doubt of the opinion of my Vet. What do you suggest?
    5) I did not gave him NEWCASTLE, is it a good idea to give that to him now?
    6) Finally, At this point, WHAT MORE CAN I DO to boost his recovery?

    I'm working with my veterinarian by suggesting things that I'm finding in internet. Very sadly here in Peru there's not enough knowledge of the treatment of distemper. My dog is recovering mostly because of the internet articles i found and videos like this one,

    If someone speaks spanish and wants some help I would love to share the few things I know about CDV.
    As Dr Ellen said in minute 25:15.

    Thanks in advance for any response.
    Adrian Byron

  21. Excellent video very helpful. I want to ask that my little girl (gsd) suffered from distemper (neurological problem) at the age of abt 4months now she is one and half year old the only problem is twitching of head at sometimes but the main problem is she is very thin what to do I am giving her a very gud diet she is very active plzzzz Help

  22. Our dogs are all vaccinated save for 2 this year. All of them tested negative from a blood test last Sunday but two of them are still showing symptoms (coughing and runny nose only). I got two of them tested again because of persistent coughing, one tested positive and the other tested negative. They are all (6 of them) have antibiotics, antitussive, vitamin c, b, and immunol plus canglob d injections. The one had stopped coughing already. I'm really scared for the other dogs that their symptoms might recur. Should I start consdering the New Castle Vaccine? Am I worrying for nothing for the dogs without symptoms?

  23. My 2 month old corgi has distemper. its been a week since he was diagnosed and he's had daily to twice daily vet visits since. it's completely cleaned me out money wise, but in that time he's actually gained his appetite and started drinking water and become far more active, but his breathing isn't improving. blocked nose from the snot, hindered breathing and heavy coughing.

    I've told the vet we won't be going for now, so he's getting azithromycin and some chinese herbal medicine called 板蓝根 (since its all natural and chinese people give it to distemper dogs. if anything it's fluids). Giving him a good vitamin gel as well as i've heard vitamin B is suggested as helping.

    The wait for the much more frightening seizure stage is killing me with worry. We'll keep going until i think theres no hope.

  24. Just want to ask if a dog can survived even the distemper was in neurological phase? and how long the battle against the virus will last? Thank you so much.

  25. MY FOUR months old husku has distemper and ahe is in the nerological phase. she can't walk, crying most of the time. but she still drinks and eats. she never has seizure. what are the chances of survival? i don't wanna lose my baby

  26. hello madam/sir, i have a GSD male dog which is 10 months old. One day early morning by 6.30 my dog suddenly got affected with Phids. After two days of that, dog suddenly started jaw clapping continuously with out coming salaiva. I took him to the vet after two days of antibiotic course he didnt stopped that sign. So after that the doctor finally confirmed that as a Canine Distemper.
    Symptoms of my affected dog:
    1.Jaw clapping continuously when it will keep standing and if it is sleeping nothing is noticeble
    2.No howling, no barking nothing from his end
    3.Will eat food as common everyday.But go to the urine or toilet hardly once a day.
    4.He is good in noticing the people.
    So can you please help me on this by suggesting some tablets and even injections and also any antibiotic course. And also let me know that the solution you are going to suggest me should be permanent and guaranteed.

  27. Thank you so much for giving this advice please help me my dog joy is suffring from canine distamper… What i really do for joy

  28. First of all thanks for a wonderful presentation. my 3 month labrador puppy is infected with CDV visus. he is now in neurolgical stage he is half paralysed.😖 As a hope he is taking food well.
    Am not able to watch him like this. The vet told he have to take med for 6 months if its not effective have to make him sleep forever. i dont want to lose him. u r my last hope.. can u plz help me! is it possible to treat CDV with halthy dogs serum?

  29. Guys, is it advisable or would it help for a dog to take the canglob d shots even though he only had basic vaccines? My dog has this virus and we are currently in a battle. For those who had same case like mine pls do share your experience thanks in advance. 🙁

  30. Distemper isnt fatal unless you are there for your pets… they get sick…they need love and alot of care n support…they can over come the effects of distemper… my dog had distemper and was paralysed for 4 months…he couldnt walk or eat properly so it was a struggle for him but with, care n proper diet he is doing good now…jus make sure you know what to n ehen to feed them…make time table…. help them urinate if they cant themself by bladder suppression…. Support them love them.

  31. Hlo mam…my dog is suffering from CDV…but he is eating properly…n fever is also normal..
    But he is weak….n also his brain part is swallowed and….if he is eating he keep on eating n if he is drinking he keep on drinking he is drinking alot of water….i want to save my dog he is 8 years old…he is heart of our family…plz suggest how we can save him…plz its a humble request to u

  32. I hope any of you would still be able to answer me and this is also pretty long but please read 😭 ok so a week ago i took my dog to a vet and they said she have distemper virus that went up to the brain already i think that's why everytime she sneeze like when you touch the top of her head there's something going on like there's something moving inside then they gave her iv fluids and after that the sneezing was gone but we took her to a different vet now since the first one we went in felt like not a good vet like it just want money from us so the iv fluids was gone after a day and came back to the vet again to get it changed the second iv fluid i think they injected electrolytes in it but the sneezing,the thing in her brain was gone she's also walking around the house now she's also eating now abit (we give her meat but if you could suggest a food that we can give her to make her better plsss do) and drinking too (i give her a normal water but i add brown sugar in it) her iv fluids was removed the vet said we can give her a rest and also for her arm too oh and its also her first time to poop last night the vet also gave us medicine its an antibacterial and a vitamin syrup that has vit b1,b6,b12 and today i started giving her 2ml organic virgin coconut oil 3x a day for 3days) but i noticed that she's always breathing fast while sleeping or awake but i just wanna know if she is getting better and when do i know that she's fully recovered and also what do you recommend giving her?? Pls answerrr

  33. Hi I'm from India recently I adopted a lab mixed breed 100days male puppy and took him to the vet but a bad news was waiting for me as the vet said your dog is suffering from distemper and there is no vaccine for this but he told let's try 1serum shots every 15days but by the time of 3shot he said your dog can't be saved(vet was greedy for money)) I don't know what to do now, plz can anyone help😢

  34. All symptoms in my dog is canine distemper i want my dog safe again please help me whatshould i do , crying alot and praying alot
    I am not a veterinarian so i cant do anything
    I am from nepal butwal 19

  35. Hi, I am from India.
    I have 2 puppies, Mini and Cooper.
    Mini had suffered from CD and I lost her last night. I'm trying to save Cooper. Please suggest medicine available in India.

  36. I have a question that I can't find an answer for. I own two rescue dogs and I don't know if they have been treated for parvo or distemper. If they have been treated without my knowledge, is it safe for them to be treated again? They are both adult dogs and very healthy but I'm always afraid to take them to the dog park or any place where they will come into contact with other dogs for fear of them catching something. I am afraid to have them treated because there might be side effects to being double treated.

  37. My last dog died from distemper i didnt notice any signs then all of a sudden she couldnt stand and was breathing heavy and vomiting blood. Now my 2nd dog has now caught it and its during the late stage the vet said few hours to live but we will take her home and keep her hydrated to see if she can pull through.

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