Amarillo vet warns pet owners about danger of distemper

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:07 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - An Amarillo veterinarian is warning residents about a highly contagious disease in animals called distemper, and it could affect your pet.

The disease attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of animals such as dogs, cats and ferrets.

“In veterinary medicine we call it the great imitator because once they start developing symptoms, it depends on where the virus settles in the body, and it can shotgun to nearly anywhere,” said Dr. Merten Pearson, Owner of Noah’s Ark Pet Hospital.

There are several signs to look out for if you are worried your pet has contracted the disease.

“You’ll see thickening on the pads on the bottom of the feet and thickening on the skin of the nose, the end of the nose. It can get into the eyes and upper respiratory system. You’ll see these green goopy eyes, green runny nose,” said Dr. Pearson.

The disease, if not found quick enough, can spread like wildfire.

“It floats in the air when a dog coughs it out there or sneezes it out there, if another dog smells it or if they get nose to nose contact or something like that,” Dr. Pearson said.

Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare says because of how contagious the disease is, they take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their animals.

“They receive a couple of vaccinations, and that Parvo-Distemper vaccination is one them. We rotate methods of cleaning, so one day we’re using rescue, which is shelter specific cleaner, and then the next day we use wizzy wash,” said Kris Shaffer, assistant director of AAMW.

However, Dr. Pearson says the best prevention for ensuring animals and pets do not get the disease is to vaccinate them.

“I’ve yet to treat a case in a dog that’s been vaccinated appropriately, ever. I went 14 years in my career from the time I graduated until 14 years later and never saw a case of distemper,” said Dr. Pearson.

A strong reminder to double check your pets records and ensure they have the proper vaccinations to maintain a healthy and happy life.