Kodiak dog tests positive for canine distemper

the Kodiak Animal Shelter
The Kodiak Animal Shelter has several kennels for animals (Brian Venua/KMXT)

A dog at the Kodiak Animal Shelter tested positive for canine distemper, a potentially fatal virus for dogs. Jean Thurman, the shelter’s manager, said in a call that to the best of their knowledge, this is the first time a dog in Kodiak has tested positive for distemper.

Thurman said the animal tested positive for the virus within the last week and all dogs at the shelter have been put into quarantine. Shelter staff will also limit dog interactions and will not allow adoptions until further notice, however the cat room and office will remain open.

A vet tech for the Kodiak Veterinary Clinic said in a call that the dog was just two years old but was put down for concerns about its quality of life after contracting the virus.

Shelter staff and veterinarians do not know how the dog was infected with distemper but are currently working to determine the cause. Dogs can spread the disease to each other through contact with other infected animals, or even airborne exposure. Humans are not susceptible to the disease.

Distemper is most often found in puppies and early signs of distemper include a dog coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, or eating less than usual. Extreme cases may lead to pneumonia for a dog, crusting of the nose and foot pads, or seizures.

This is the latest disease to affect dogs in the state – veterinarians are also keeping watch for a mysterious virus, similar to kennel cough, that’s plaguing the lower 48. Veterinarians have not yet detected that disease in Kodiak yet. 

Shelter and vet clinic staff encourage the public to ensure their dogs’ vaccinations are up to date to prevent infection. The Kodiak Veterinary Clinic will have a vaccine clinic on Monday. 

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