Many pet owners share their time between different kinds of pets. Dogs live with birds, rabbits live with cats, and of course dogs and cats have shared their companions, abet grudgingly. So if you find out kitty has contacted feline distemper should you be worried about the dog?
Feline panleukopenia virus, or FPV, better known as feline distemper is a highly contagious disease that can also be fatal. That being said, it is not transmittable to humans or dogs, only to other cats, ferrets and minks. The virus is spread through infected animals’ bodily fluids, feces, and through fleas. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and anemia. The only treatment for an infected cat is an aggressive whole blood transfusion, with no guarantees of success. FPV can kill an infected animal within 24 hours. The only known way to prevent the virus is to have the cat vaccinated, which is usually done when the feline is still a kitten.
Canine distemper virus, or CDV is a virus that is transmittable to several different animals. It is however, a completely different virus that that which is associated with domestic cats. The virus can only be transmitted by an infected animal, usually through the respiratory system. Common signs of canine distemper are a runny nose, loss of appetite which leads to weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and possibly labored breathing. Unfortunately there is no treatment for canine distemper other than treating each specific symptom as it arises. In terms of prevention there are vaccines available and even mandatory in some locations.
Even though the disease is not transmittable between canine and feline it is still a good idea to provide each pet with their own food and water bowls. While it’s OK for the dog and cat to snack on each other’s food once in a while a dog should not eat cat food and vise versa. The nutritional needs of a dog are very different than that of a cat.
Dogs eat cat food when given the opportunity, but require thelower protein content of dog food. Dogs are different than cats in that a dog is an omnivore, which needs to consume both animal protein and plant foods and a cat is a carnivore, which just needs animal protein. A dog needs less fat in their diet and a proper mix of both vitamins and minerals which dog food provides. Cat food on the other hand, contains taurine which is essential to a cat but completely unnecessary for a dog.