Veterinarians in the UAE are urging dog owners to vaccinate their pets and not handle other animals after reported outbreaks of the deadly canine distemper.
Across Dubai, many pet owners say their dogs have been diagnosed with distemper, a highly contagious and often fatal viral disease.
For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
Some dogs have died, leaving the owners heartbroken.
Albert Alcopora, a veterinary nurse at the British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai, said vets at their clinic were aware of cases of distemper and warned there could be a new strain in the UAE as dogs vaccinated against the disease got the disease.
While vaccinations provide a protective barrier between pets and these types of illnesses, he said dog owners should avoid socializing their animals at this time.
“The strange thing is it could be a new species,” he told Al Arabiya English. “Even vaccinated dogs get infected.
“The best prevention to prevent transmission of the disease through saliva and other bodily fluids is to avoid direct contact with other dogs.
“If you see any signs of distemper — symptoms such as discharge from the eye or nose — get to the vet right away.
“However, give them a warning that your dog may have distemper so they can isolate your pet from infecting healthy animals as it is a very nasty virus.
“Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and avoid direct contact with other dogs while walking. Prevention is better than cure.”
In Dubai Hills, dog owner Amy le Roux said her 16-month-old puppy, who has been vaccinated against distemper, is currently fighting for his life after contracting the disease.
“I want to let everyone know that there has been an outbreak of distemper in Dubai Hills; to the best of our knowledge, two dogs have died and one is currently fighting to get well, but there may be more cases that we are not aware of,” she said. “Veterinarians have also confirmed that the number of cases in the UAE has suddenly increased.
“This is a heartbreaking virus that currently has no cure. My dog is currently fighting for his life, so be very careful about who your dog interacts with. If they show any of the symptoms, take them to the vet immediately.”
Symptoms include watery/pus-like discharge from the eyes, fever, runny nose, cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, tremors/ticks, problems with balance or walking, and seizures.
“I don’t want to scare anyone, I just want to make people aware,” said the Dubai resident. “I was not aware of this virus and if I hadn’t been aware of a previous puppy that died in my area, I would not have known I had asked the vet to test him when he started showing the first early symptoms.”
“My beautiful boy is a fighter and we are doing everything we can to boost his immune system so he can try to fight this terrible virus. I hope no one else has to experience our fear and pain.”
An employee of the DKC Veterinary Clinic in Dubai’s Motor City said she was aware of cases in Dubai Hills and Damac Hills and advised dog owners to have their pet’s antibody levels checked to see if they have enough antibodies against the disease.
“We recommend booster shots and it’s best not to socialize pets in areas where it’s common, such as dog parks.”
UAE animal welfare organizations urge residents to adopt abandoned pets this Christmas
The Tragic Reality of Abandoned Pets in the UAE