If you own a dog in Abilene, you may want to pay attention to this.  A deadly canine distemper virus is spreading through the key city, and it could affect your dog.

Canine distemper is a very contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system in dogs as well as other wildlife animals like foxes, skunks and raccoons.  Animals become infected though airborne exposure to the virus and contact with wildlife infected with the disease. As pet owners, if we have handled a dog infected with this virus, we can give it to our own dogs as well.

According to the City of Abilene, the Animal Services Division has seen a drastic increase in canine distemper in the last few months, and they are urging dog owners to get their dog vaccinated.

Animal Services Manager, Aaron Vannoy said:

“Having your puppy or dog properly vaccinated and avoiding contact with infected animals is essential to preventing the spread of canine distemper.There are no drugs available to kill the canine distemper virus so vaccinating your pet against the disease is crucial.”

Some of the signs of canine distemper include eye discharge, fever, coughing, reduced appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. The virus can also attack the nervous system and give the dog seizures, twitching or partial or complete paralysis. Distemper can cause permanent damage to a dog’s nervous system and, most of the time, is fatal.

So, if your puppy or dog is showing signs of canine distemper, you should take your dog to a vet as soon as possible.

For more info on canine distemper, you can check out the American Veterinary Medical Association website: www.avma.org.