Dog owners of unvaccinated pets are being warned about a disease that’s known to be deadly for a dog.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reports an increase in raccoons infected with canine distemper.
LDWF says the cases are reported mainly in Lafayette parish and parishes in southeast Louisiana.
Symptoms inlcude disorientation, seizures, coughting and most importantly “the disease does not affect humans.”
Carson Veterinary Hospital has been in the Lafayette community for more than 30 years. Dr. James Carson, III says he doesn’t see distemper often since many dogs are now being vaccinated. “It’s a cough. It’s a gag. It’s a snotty nose, boogery eyes and all that stuff. It’s a respiratory disease but then it has neurological signs,” Carson says.
Experts explain that canine distemper is a contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastro-intestinal and nervous systems. Wildlife and Fisheries agents say symptoms will become progressively worse and the disease is usually fatal. “You’re dog would be very sick and they would die if they get distemper,” Carson adds.
LDWF agents also warn that the disease can be spread through direct contact with body fluids or droppings from an infected animal. “It can be transmitted through saliva. If they’re eating out of a dogs bowl, drinking out of a dogs water bowl, fighting and biting,” Dr. Carson says.
Carson explains an infected raccoon would be acting strange and disoriented similar to drunken behavior. Wildlife and Fisheries says in addition to raccoons — foxes, coyotes, and skunks can be infected.
LDWF adds that even though the animal may appear calm keep in mind they can become aggressive if approached too closely.
You can also discourage raccoons by removing things like feeding bowls and securing garbage cans so they can’t be knocked over.
“The best prevention for dogs is to make sure they are vaccinated. Contact your veterinarian to make sure your dog’s shots are current,” LDWF says.