Experts are seeing a big increase in this viral infection in Louisiana that affects dogs. Here's what to watch out for and how to keep your best friend happy, healthy, and safe.

Caddo Parish Animal Services and Mosquito Control recently reported a rise in the instances of Distemper in raccoons, primarily in the Broadmoor and Highland neighborhoods in Shreveport, LA. They've recorded about 30 positive cases in those areas which means you need to keep an eye on your dogs. Thankfully, Distemper does not affect humans or cats.

What is Distemper?

According to Caddo Parish Animal Services and Mosquito Control, Distemper is, 'a viral infection that can infect dogs, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.' The American Veterinary Medical Association says that Canine Distemper is a serious disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of dogs. Thankfully, dogs can be protected against Distemper by being kept up to date on their vaccinations.

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What are the signs of Canine Distemper?

Because the virus can spread quickly to the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, some symptoms to look out for include discharge from the nose or eyes, fever, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. The American Veterinary Medical Association also says that Canine Distemper lowers the infected animal's immune system and can also attack the nervous system, resulting in symptoms like walking in circles, lack of coordination, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements, and drooling, seizure, and paralysis. It can also cause the dog's nose and footpads to thicken, leading to the nickname, 'hard pad disease.' It can also cause permanent tooth damage.


How can you prevent Canine Distemper?

Once again, make sure that your pets are properly vaccinated. Infection can be caused by direct contact or from being near an infected animal when it is coughing or sneezing. The virus can also be transmitted through shared food and water bowls, etc... You should also endeavor to keep your pets and their food and water sources away from wildlife.

Residents are urged to contact Caddo Animal Services at (318)-226-6624 if they see a raccoon in the daylight hours (they're nocturnal animals) that appears to be ill or exhibiting symptoms of Distemper. The Parish also encourages folks to sign up for alerts from Everbridge for updates.

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