Canine Distemper

Distemper is a very contagious and serious viral illness which has no known cure. Distemper belongs to the Morbillivirus class of viruses, and is a relative of the measles virus, which affects humans, the Rinderpest virus that affects cattle, and the Phocine virus that causes seal distemper. All are members of the Paramyxoviridae family.

Symptoms and Types

The virus is not only spread through the air, but can also be passed on by direct or indirect (i.e. utensils, bedding) contact with another infected animal. Initially the virus will attack a dog’s tonsils and lymph nodes, it then replicates itself there for about one week. Then it moves on to attack the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

During the initial stages of distemper, the major symptoms include a high fever, reddened eyes, and a watery discharge from the nose and eyes. An infected dog will become lethargic and tired, and will usually become anorexic. Persistent coughing, vomiting, and diarrhoea may also occur. During the later stages of the disease, the virus starts attacking other systems within the dog’s body, particularly the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord are affected and the dog may start having fits, seizures, paralysis, and attacks of hysteria.

Certain strains of the distemper virus can cause an abnormal enlargement or thickening of the dog’s paw pads. If a dog has a particularly weak immune system, death may occur in as little as two to five weeks after the initial infection.

Canine anal gland problems

Anal glands are small and oval in shape, and  they sit just inside your dog’s rectum on either side of the anus. They reside in the muscle of the anal sphincter and are not very visible. The glands produce a smelly, oily substance that collects within tiny ducts. This fluid probably serves as a territorial marker, relaying biochemical information to other dogs that might be in the area.

When nature calls and your dog poops, if the stool is of a normal consistency, the fluid-filled ducts in the anal glands will empty as a result of the pressure imposed by the faeces as it passes through the rectum and anus. This is how nature intended things to work, but dog's these days often have loose stools or irregular bowel movements that don’t press against the anal glands during a poop.

The three main causes of anal gland problems are diet, trauma to the glands, and the position of the glands. However, other contributing factors can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, also certain skin disorders and infections.

Dog behaviour: Play bowing

Dogs and humans have lived together  for thousands of years. Even so, there is still some canine body language that is often misunderstood by humans. One such instance is when a dog drops their belly to the ground when another dog approaches.

Alabama Rot

What is Alabama rot?

Alabama rot is a disease that damages blood vessels within a dog’s skin and kidneys. It causes blood to clot, which damages the kidneys lining and tissues.

This leads to ulcers on the skin and sadly causes kidney failure, which can be fatal.

Alabama rot’s full scientific name is cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), and was first identified in America during the 1980’s.

Canine Arthritis

Arthritis which causes inflammation of the joints, is a common problem for dogs. Large breeds and senior dogs are especially prone to this painful condition. Arthritis can be the result of an injury, an infection, development defects, immune disorders, or quite simply chronic wear and tear of the joints.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, or DJD for short, is the most common form of arthritis in dogs.

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones breaks down over time. Normally, cartilage allows for smooth, frictionless motion in the joint. With arthritis, the cartilage gets rough and eventually wears away, exposing the sensitive bone underneath. This results in pain, inflammation, and stiffness of the joint. The joint loses its stability, and bone spurs develop. This results in more pain and stiffness of the joint.

Arthritis can happen in any joint in the dog's body including the hips, elbows, knees, shoulders and spine. It is a progressive disease, in that it gets worse over time. It is often associated with old age, but can occur in younger dogs as well.