Medicines and Supplements to Fight Canine Distemper

Video Tutorial

Watch the video below to help you better understand the rest of the article.

Giving Medicines and Supplements for Canine Distemper

In this article, I'll discuss the details on administering the medicines and supplements that were prescribed by the Vet for Santi. These details include the what, when and how.

Giving the medicines (AND food!) became increasingly difficult since Santi would constantly growl at us as he didn't want to take anything.

Let me just reiterate that I am not veterinarian nor an animal medical or health worker. I'm sharing what worked for us in our commitment to help our pet Santi fight the dreaded Canine Distemper virus.

Aug. 11, 2021

Treating Blood Parasitism

Blood parasitism in dogs is mainly caused by the infected brown tick as a vector. Santi's fond of walking outside and I take him out to walk as exercise. Sadly, my suspicion was that he picked up some of these infected ticks from grassy vacant lots we used to frequent before.

Santi was diagnosed with blood parasitism at the Vet because he was lethargic, vomitting and had red-brown watery stools. After the CBC (complete blood count), the hematology chart showed a very low blood platelet count of 74.

The normal range for blood platelet count is 200 to 500. The low platelet count indicated blood parasitism, which was like Dengue to us humans.

To address the Blood Parasitism in Santi, the following were prescribed for his weight at 15.6 kg.:

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Aug 11 15.6 kgDoxycycline 100mg tablet1.5 tabletsOnce a day for 14 days, after meals6 pm
Haemomaxx Liquid Supplement5 mlOnce a day for 30 days, 6 hours apart from Doxycycline9 pm
Royal Canin Recovery DietNo limitNo limit as alternative to regular foodNone

Notice that the Vet had specific instructions to space the Haemomaxx Syrup 6 hours apart from the Doxycycline. This is because, supposedly, oral iron binds to oral doxycycline in the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, Doxycycline is absorbed less into the bloodstream and can possibly reduce its effectiveness.

Haemomaxx is an iron supplement. Blood Parasitism may cause anemia in the long run. This is seen when there is a drop in RBC (Red Blood Cells) and hemoglobin levels. So the prevent this, the iron supplement was prescribed.

Because Santi was not eating very much, the Vet also suggested Royal Canin Recovery Diet (in can) as an alternative to the regular food he ate. Our previous strategy (also suggested by the Vet) of hiding Docycycline tablet inside chicken liver was no longer working.

Food intake for the dog is very important because he will be taking Doxycycline which is an antibiotic and is regarded by the Vet as antibiotic of choice for blood parasitism. When I asked about food, the Vet was specific in telling me not to give chicken or fish bones.

We still did not know why Santi had this labored breathing (like hiccups and sneezing), and so he was to be monitored further. We were just advised to keep him away from chemicals like insecticides/pesticides or fumes. Bathing Santi was also discouraged to avoid him getting stressed.

Aug. 18, 2021

Treatment to Fight Canine Distemper

With the symptoms that have appeared in Santi (see the link to his complete distemper journey), we brought him back to the Vet a week later. Symptoms included coughing, lethargy, vomitting with sticky phlegm, and nasal discharges.

Using a test kit known as CDV-Ag, the Vet confirmed him to be Canine Distemper positive. By this time, his weight has already gone down to 14.3 kg.

The following medicines and supplements were prescribed.

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Aug 18 14.3 kgDoxycycline 100mg tablet1.5 tabletsOnce a day for 7 days, after mealsNone
Immunol tablets2 tabletsOnce a day for 15 daysNone
Polynerv Syrup3 mlTwice a day as Vitamin B-Complex supplementNone
Royal Canin Recovery DietSmallSmall, but frequent meals. Alternative to regular foodNone

The Doxycycline antibiotic was to be retained. Canine Distemper is a virus, and as per the Vet, whenever there's viral infection, there is likely to be secondary bacterial infection as well. Doxycycline will also address the secondary bacterial infection.

Since Santi was still not eating regular food, the Royal Canin was to be continued in small but frequent meals. The Haemomaxx is to be continued as previously prescribed, and still, spaced 6 hours apart from the Doxycycline.

Note also that the time we were treating Santi for canine distemper, he already had contracted blood parasitism the week before. So, we were treating Santi for blood parasitism as well.

Aug. 26, 2021

Santi's biomarkders were still not good. His WBC (White Blood Cells) level was at 18.6 (normal is 6.0 - 16.5) which used to be 22.3, meaning there was still secondary bacterial infection. His Blood Platelets increased just slightly at 85, but still abnormally low. This is something that won't be resolved in just a few weeks.

His body weight continued to drop and was now 12.6 kg. So the following were prescribed in his continuing treatment for Canine Distemper and Blood Parasitism.

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Aug 26 12.6 kgDoxycycline 100mg tablet1.25 tabletsOnce a day for 7 days, after meals6 pm
Immunol Syrup3 mlOrally twice a day for 14 daysNone
Haemomaxx Syrup5 mlOrally once a day as supplement6 hours apart from Doxycycline
Polynerv Syrup3 mlTwice a day as Vitamin B-Complex supplementNone
Singen Recovery Liquid Diet20-25 mlOrally, 4 times a day. Alternative to regular food6am, 12am, 6pm, 10pm

Santi had a slight temperature and this may have been casued by his distemper or stress from travel or at the clinic or a combination of these. The Vet suggested wiping him with a cold towel - but no bathing yet. Also, strictly no paracetamol.

His RBC has gone down a bit and so the Haemomaxx Iron Supplemented was recommended to be continued. Fortunately, he still dranked water mixed with Dextrovet (glucose).

Changes in Distemper Medicine Dosage and Form

  1. Notice that the Doxcycline antibiotic was decreased from the previous 1.5 tablets to 1.25 tablets. This was due to the drop of Santi's body weight. Antibiotic dosage is given on the basis of body weight.

    We were looking for Doxycycline in syrup form but the Vet advised against it saying it may be costlier for us. The syrup form was mostly given for smaller dogs (5kgs or less). Santi, with his bodyweight would have needed to consume so much more.

  2. The Immunol tablets were replaced by Immunol Syrup. Immunol in tablet form was originally prescribed because they were meant to be inserted into the mouth of bigger dogs. Unfortunately, Santi didn't accept this kind of administration and would growl at us.

    So we needed to crush and powderize the tablets using mortar and pestle. We then mixed this powder with the recovery food like Royal Canin. However, we discovered that Santi had trouble keeping it in.

    There were a couple of times that he vomitted what was given. We suspected it was the Immunol tablets because I don't think they were meant to be powderized. The tablets had a coating that probably protected the contents from getting in contact with the esophagus and stomach. Without the coating, the quick intake of the contents might have induced vomitting.

    So we requested for the syrup form of Immunol. Because, thus far, we haven't had any problems with administering medicines in syrup form.

  3. The Royal Canin Recovery Diet was replaced by Singen Vet Recovery Liquid Diet. We found that Santi no longer liked the Royal Canin brand. Also, we found that the Singen brand was really liquid and was easily administered using a syringe. The Royal Canin food, on the other hand, was like liver spread in texture.

    We discovered this when we had to buy Royal Canin but the Vet clinic was out of stock and only had Singen. The Vet Clinic still didn't have the Royal Canin on stock and so we offially switched to Singen.

How to Forcefeed a Reactive Dog That Won't Eat

I took the opportunity to validate with the Vet if our style of feeding Santi was acceptable. You see, we could only feed him if I carried him and my daughter administer the food and medicines via a syringe, without the needle, of course (see the video). Fortunately, the Vet was okay with it and happy that I have someone to assist me.

Funny, but the only way I can carry him is if he wasn't lying down, meaning he was either walking or standing. If he was lying, he'd growl and snap at me. I was able to lift him before but by covering him with a bit of blanket and making sure that his neck and partly his head was covered.

Most recently though, we were able to make him stand by triggering his prey drive. What this means was that we act like there was a cat outside. We made catcalls and when he sensed this, he'd try to stand and run out.

Herbal Supplements to Help Cure Canine Distemper

Before the consultation was over, I asked about herbal supplementation that I've been reading in the internet and some FB groups. I've read about Igco Milk and Barley Max that others swear by.

We actually bought them beforehand, the Igco Milk online, and the Barley Max at the drugstore. It was tough getting Santi to take them in and just vomitted them. When mentioned to the Vet, she was clueless as to what these are.

I also mentioned the "paragis" (goose grass) and "tawa-tawa" to address the low blood platelet count. The Vet said the clinic didn't have experience with these kinds of supplementation and would suggest keeping the medications simple so Santi doesn't get overwhelmed with so many supplements.

So did we use any of these type of supplements? Yes, but not enough to see any difference to continue. We sold the rest of the Igco Milk and Barley Max online.

The Vet was only familiar with "tawa-tawa" and said it was up to us if we wanted to give it to Santi. We did, but eventually just stopped as you need to boil a new batch for a new brew.

With regards to vomitting that have become a bit frequent, the Vet advised us not to feed Santi within 4 hours of vomitting. Even his water bowl must be put away within that 4 hours.

This is the lowest weight that Santi had and we were a bit desperate. I've read about Canglob-D injections and asked the Vet. They didn't have it on stock, but promised to order it for us.

Sep. 2, 2021

Some of the Distemper symptoms were disappearing.
  1. He was starting to eat better. He's eating chicken voluntarily, although the medicines and supplements still needed to be given.
  2. He was no longer vomitting and the stool are getting better, no longer watery.
  3. He was no longer coughing as much as before.
  4. The lethargy was disappearing and he's more alert now. He no longer has that blank stare, and looking at us more often.
  5. He had no fever when the Vet checked him.
Santi started his Canglob-D injections today and this Canglob-D treatment will be discussed in another article. Also his body weight started to pick up and is now 12.95 kg.. I'm guessing it had something to do with the Singen Recovery Liquid diet that he's been able to take in consistently. The following were prescribed.

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Sep 02 12.95 kgDoxycycline 100mg tablet1.25 tabletsOrally, once a day for 7 days, after mealsNone
Haemomaxx Syrup5 mlOrally, once a day as supplement6 hours apart from Doxycycline
Immunol Syrup3 mlOrally, twice a day as supplementNone
Polynerv Syrup3 mlTwice a day as Vitamin B-Complex supplementNone
Ascorbic Acid100 mg or 5 mlOrally, once a day as Vitamin C supplementNone

From today's CBC, WBC (White Blood Cell) level has dropped, meaning infection is going down thanks largely to the Doxycycline antibiotic. RBC levels and Blood Platelet Count are also improving (going up). This means Santi was responding well to the Haemomaxx Iron Supplement.

Santi's starting to eat chicken with rice, but for the medicines and supplements, they still had to be given with the Singen Recovery Liquid Diet which, thankfully, has triggered his weight gain. In the prescription above, there's an additional item on the list, and that's Ascorbic Acid.

Vitamin C is something I've been seeing suggested in some FB Distemper groups to help boost immunity against Canine Distemper. I asked about it before with the Vet but she wasn't keen on it, saying dogs create their own vitamin C.

Today I asked again and so the Vet asked me why. I replied Santi's still lethargic and Vitamin C might just be what he needs. "If it doesn't hinder in his treatment, anyway, maybe we could consider it as supplement", I told her. The Vet relented and suggested their brand which is Canicee Ascorbic Acid Syrup.

Improving Appetite after Responding to Treatment

Santi's appetite is slightly picking up and I asked if we could increase Singen. The Vet said that there's not much issue in increasing the recovery diet except that her suggestion was to transition to Santi's regular food like chicken, rice, etc.

Having said that, I asked if there were food that was prohibited. I'm glad I asked because the Vet mentioned dairy food is not to be given yet when the dog is taking Doxycycline antibiotic. This include foods like cheese or anything with milk.

Fish and eggs are okay for as long as the dog has no allergic reaction to these foods like reddening of the skin or itching and skin irritation. Fortunately, Santi has no allergies like these that I know of.

Sep. 10, 2021

Today is the last day of Santi's Canglob-D injections.

There has been a remarkable improvement in Santi's overall condition. For one, he's feeling so much better after he finally had his bath last Sep 7. This was after we were given the go-signal to do so, despite him not being cleared yet for distemper.

From the CBC, the WBC has gone further down and is almost normal. Blood Platelets have gone up to 180 and is nearing normal already (200). Over the past few days, his weight has shot up to 15.0 kg. from 12.95 kg last Sep 2.

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Sep 10 15.0 kgDoxycycline 100mg tablet1.5 tabletsOrally, once a day for 14 days, after mealsNone

The Vet's other instruction was to continue all the other supplements as is (Haemomaxx, Immunol, Polynerv, and Ascorbic Acid).

The Doxycycline was needed to resume because the Blood Parasitism was still there. According to the Vet, antibiotic treatment for this is usually 28 days, but some dogs may require up to 2 months.

Because Santi's been responding well to the treatment, the Vet was happy. She was optimisitic that the retesting for distemper on Sep 24 would be negative. Santi will also be done with viral shedding by that time.

Does Canine Distemper Come Back After Recovery?

I just had to ask this question to the Vet: "Will there be some kind of immunity after recovering from Canine Distemper?"

The answer from the Vet was, yes, there is now some immunity because the dog now has antibodies against distemper. She added that it is "very very rare" that Canine Distemper can come back to a distemper survivor.

By her own experience, she has not seen a single case where a survivor recontracted the disease. But she quickly added that the combination vaccinations like, 5-in-1, 6-in-1, etc, are still needed to protect the dog further from other diseases like leptospirosis, parvo, and a few more.

Sep. 24, 2021

Today's the day Santi was retested for Canine Distemper, and the test turned out to be negative. Apparently, Santi responded very well to all the medicines and supplements given him. At the last time we were at the Vet, his weight was 15 kg which was around his pre-distemper condition.

That's the good news. Now, for some bit of bad news.

Today, his weight has gone down a bit to 14.05 kg. For some reason, he didn't eat the whole day today.

Santi has been eating well but there were 3 days recently where he vomitted on an empty stomach early in the morning. It was mostly bubbly or foamy saliva and some leaves that he chewed from some plants in our garden.

The Vet interpreted this as hyperacidity. She said some dogs give out white or yellow foamy vomit when the interval between feedings is too long. She said at this state, the dog is already hungry.

Asked about Santi's neurological condition, I said Santi's very very active, but we noticed some twitching on his head just today. The Vet said this twitching is a secondary effect of distemper and may be more long lasting or even permanent.

It has been 2 days that Santi wasn't taking Haemomaxx as we just finished the most recent bottle. We opted to wait for the Vet's assessment before buying more. Besides, his appetite seemed to have returned - until today.

Canine Distemper Post-Recovery Medications

DateMedicineAmtFrequencySuggested Time
Sep 24 14.05 kgPizotifen Maleate Syrup5 mlOrally, twice a day for 7-14 days30 mins. before meals
Maalox / Maalox Plus Syrup5 mlOrally, twice a day for 3-5 days or as needed10 mins. before meals
Dextrolyte Powder1 Sachet mixed in 250 ml waterAs neededNone

From the Hematology chart, Santi's levels for RBC and hemoglobin are a bit high and the Vet suspected dehydration. She was right because Santi hardly drank water especially in the past few days and then there have been these episodes of vomitting.

It was so different when he had distemper because he drank a lot most of the time. But then when he started to recover, and his appetite improved significantly, his water consumption decreased.

The Vet was alarmed that Santi hasn't eaten all day and suddenly lost appetite. To this, she prescribed Pizotifen Maleate which comes in the brand Pediappetite in drugstores.

For the early morning vomitting, which indicated hyperacidity and may have contributed to the dehydation, she prescribed Maalox. She was quick to say to discontinue Maalox when appetite improves and feeding becomes regular.

Finally, the Dextrolyte Powder was suggsted as a way to replenish electrolytes. It isn't dextrose powder like Dextrovet which is mostly sugar. An alternative to Dextorlyte is Hydrite (any flavor except Grape).

The above are supportive supplementation only and no longer directly related to the treatment of Canine Distemper. Santi's been officially cleared already of distemper and we're finally off Doxycycline antibiotics.

The Vet's advise was that if his blood markers are good after 2 weeks, then we could discontinue Haemomaxx and just switch to ordinary multivitamins for dogs. Right after this clearing of his distemper, Santi and I went back to our regular morning walks around the neighborhood!

If you're interested how we were able to resolve Santi's dehdyration problem naturally without any medications, then go ahead and view this video: How I Treat My Dog's Dehydration Problem.

Combination Dog Vaccines Against Canine Distemper

This is something that I deeply regretted not getting Santi - veterinary vaccines for dogs. Santi is updated for vaccine against rabies because vaccination is offered yearly in our community by the local government at a nominal cost.

As far as other dog viral diseases are concerned, I was under the mistaken belief that native mixed-breed dogs like Santi are hardy enough and aren't as vulnerable as pure breeds.

I put off scheduling him for vaccines - well, until it was too late. Little did I know that walking him outside daily, unvaccinated, already put him at a very high risk. Anyway, right after Santi was cleared of distemper, we had him scheduled and injected with the applicable vaccines immediately.

Dog Vaccine / Combination Vaccine
Date and WeightVaccineAgainstCost in PesosVet
Oct 08 15.0 kg5-in-1 DHPPiCanine Distemper, Adenovirus Type2 (Hepatitis), Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospira CanicolaPhp 400MPP
Oct 22 15.55 kg6-in-1 DHPPiLCanine Distemper, Adenovirus Type2 (Hepatitis), Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospira CanicolaPhp 450RMM
RabisenRabiesPhp 250RMM
Nov 05 14.95 kg8-in-1 DHPPi L4Canine Distemper, Adenovirus Type2 (Hepatitis), Parvovirus, Leptospira Canicola, Grippo typhosa, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Pomona Bacterin Php 500RMM

Conclusion of Distemper Treatment

After being cleared from Canine Distemper, Santi was also cleared of blood parasitism. As for distemper post-recovery supplementation, we've since stopped giving Santi Immunol and Vitamin C.

Immunol is a bit pricey, and Vitamin C is something a healthy dog may not need for supplemntation. However, we continued giving him Vitamin B-Complex (Polynerv alternatives) for his nerves. This is in addition to the multivitamins we give him everyday.

To learn the complete story of Santi's journey in fighting and surviving the dreaded Canine Distemper, please see this link: Surviving Distemper - A Success Story

Presently, Santi still has a very slight twitching on his head sometimes when he is resting or sleeping - but never when he's totally awake or active. I'm optimistic and hopeful that this too will eventually disappear. Other than that, he's very active, healthy, and definitely happy!

Go ahead, post your comment below!