Chhimi Dema

The National Veterinary Hospital in Thimphu recorded 25 cases of canine distemper infection in dogs last month, which is at least one case a day.

Although the viral disease does not pose risk to people or animals in other families, pet owners are advised to isolate the infected dogs.

Canine distemper is a viral infectious disease affecting the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of canines.

The veterinary hospital’s senior veterinary officer, Dr Nima Wangdi, said that there is no anti-viral or medicine to treat the disease. The hospital is providing treatments based on the symptoms the infected dogs develop.

The infected dogs develop pus-like discharge from their eyes and eventually develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting.

As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behaviour, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation, seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus is also known to cause the footpads to thicken and harden.

Dr Nima Wangdi said that timely treatment ensures recovery of the infected dogs. “More than 90 percent of the infected dogs are recovering in Thimphu.”

He said that isolation of the infected dogs is critical to stop the spread of the virus; and to protect pet dogs from such viral diseases, vaccination is important.

He said that pet owners should vaccinate pets with the DHPPi vaccine when a dog is 45 days old and a booster dose after 21 days after which the vaccine is given annually.

DHPPi is a combined live vaccine against canine distemper virus, hepatitis type 1 and 2, parvo virus and para-influenza virus.

The Livestock Rules and Regulation 2017 states that the pet owner is responsible to register their pet animals and ensure timely vaccination, deworming, and care of the pet animal.

If the owner fails to vaccinate the pet, they will be “liable to pay either the whole treatment cost and money equivalent to production losses suffered, or the market value of the livestock or animal lost through deaths.”