Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Waco's Story

by User Not Found | May 12, 2012


This is Waco, he's cute right?  Don't worry, that's relevant, it makes his story even more endearing.  Like many other dogs he came to us through a shelter.  After Waco came in to NRGRR, we found out that the shelter was being “closed” for an outbreak of distemper.  Distemper, we’ve heard that before….oh yes we vaccinate our dogs for it routinely.  Canine Distemper is a virus, a nasty one at that.  It invades the respiratory tract and spreads to the gut, and sometimes even the brain and eyes.  It’s super contagious, which is why dogs in shelters or boarding kennels are really susceptible.  Droplets in the air can spread the virus just like people and the flu virus.  Just a few days after Waco was in a foster home he suddenly stopped eating, got very tired and started to have thick nasal discharge.  Waco’s temperature got up to 104 degrees! Yikes.  His quick thinking fosters knew this wasn’t right so off to the emergency vet he went.  Waco had to stay at the emergency vet all weekend to get antibiotics and lots of fluids and of course we suspected it was distemper since he had come from the contaminated shelter.  But lucky we had this background info on Waco…without it, this could have easily been missed.  Often the signs of distemper are mild and may show up and disappear just as mysteriously.  It’s not until a dog is walking in circles, changing their behavior, or developing seizures that we know a dog is truly sick.  Even then it can be hard to pinpoint the distemper virus.  FUN FACT:  Distemper used to be called “hardpad” disease because it can cause the skin on the nose or the feet to be, yep you guessed it, really hard or keratinized.


Waco never had vaccines before he came to NRGRR.  But things like stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, injuries, allergies and chronic infections can keep your immune system from working as well as it should.  And just because your dog doesn’t go to a boarding kennel or a shelter, doesn’t mean they aren’t exposed to distemper.  Raccoons, skunks, foxes, wolves and other “backyard” wildlife can carry distemper or be infected with it.  Unfortunately it’s pretty tough to get close enough to these wild animals and get a little mask on them, so we have to keep our pups safe with vaccination.  Distemper is the “D” found in the DHPP vaccine.  We can talk about the other letters later and don’t worry I will talk about them, I know you are anxiously waiting.  Another side note and fun money saving fact, you don’t have to vaccinate your dog every year once they are into adult ”hood” which would be the opposite of puppy ”hood”.  Puppies need vaccines and boosters to build up their own immunity, but adult dogs have been shown to have immunity to distemper for several years.  The current recommendation is every three years.  Seriously.  Chat with your vet about it, oh and we’ll talk about that later too.  I digress….back to poor little Waco.


Waco started feeling a little better and was eventually able to go home, but sure enough just a couple days later, the symptoms had returned (remember those symptoms that come and go?)  Back to the emergency vet he went and then had to stay at his regular vet for another week on fluids and antibiotics.  We tested the area inside Waco’s lungs to see what was living in there.  The correct answer would have been nothing, but Waco did not read the textbook on that one.  He had several viruses and just a few bacteria.  Luckily the vets had put him on antibiotics so the bacteria were dying.  But Waco also had other viruses in his lungs and since there is nothing we can do to treat viruses, the best thing we could do was wait for his little body to fight them off.  One of the viruses we found was distemper.  Since Waco received vaccinations when he came to NRGRR, it’s hard for us to tell which viruses were causing illness and which were from a response to the vaccines, so we may never know for sure what happen to poor little Waco that made him so sick.  But one thing is for sure, his little immune system has taken a beating.  All the hospital bills and Waco's health are worth a simple preventative measure, don't you think?

Thanks to the excellent care of Waco’s vets and most importantly his wonderful fosters, he is doing well and feeling well. I’m sure Waco will always remember and always remind his new family to make sure they vaccinate him for distemper. Thanks to good vaccination practices, this disease is not as prevalent as it used to be.  The moral of the story is, watch out for crazy raccoons.  Oh and vaccinate your dog for distemper. 




Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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