We have a foster puppy that has distemper – in the last day he’s…

We have a foster puppy that has distemper – in the last day he’s developed myoclonus in his back leg. He has only had the respiratory symptoms for about a week and has been on antibiotics the whole time (we initially suspected Kennel Cough as did the vet).

He has shown no gastrointestinal symptoms at all – appetite and digestion have remained healthy (if not voracious) throughout.

The snap test at the vet came back negative but I know these can be incredibly unreliable with Distemper. The appearance of the myoclonus in conjunction with the other symptoms has all but confirmed it for us (happy to hear an alternative opinion of course!).

He’s about a month old and when he came to us was malnourished but until this popped up has strengthened and thrived. We have him on nutritional supplements as well. So despite his circumstance and young age, his immune system has a little bit of fight in it.

I know what to look for in terms of it getting worse but what i’m really wanting to know is what to look for in terms of improvement. I know the myoclonus isn’t going anywhere in any event – assuming it doesn’t worsen or develop into seizures and assuming that his respiratory symptoms continue to improve and shows no sign of gastrointestinal issues, how will I know if he’s making progress? The appearance of the neuro signs are obviously of great concern but i’m not sure if them simply not worsening is a sign that he might be winning? I guess i’m a little lost because I know that neuro signs can be signs of the second stage of the disease but I also know that they can show up post recovery.

The myoclonus also only affects him when he’s quietly resting or in some stages of sleep. When he’s walking around it isn’t present and when he’s in deep sleep it doesn’t seem to be present either.

We know his chances aren’t good but just looking for a little bit of hope to hold on to. He has been to the vet but we foster in a third world country so whilst the vet does really good work, getting opinions outside their direct experience can be a little difficult.

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Krista Magnifico
Krista Magnifico (@kristamagnifico)
4 years ago

Hello, Unfortunately in these cases the only way to know is to watch and wait and see. And stay in very close contact with your vet. I also get concerned about spread of disease and other possible etiologies like rabies. I feel he is happy and functional (eating, drinking, peeing, pooping) and you are willing to provide the time, care and oversight he needs then all you can do after that is wait and see. But please keep your vet appraised of progress and direct patient care questions. Tell them you want to try to help this pup and ask… Read more »