What Dog Owners Need To Know About Canine Distemper?

Canine distemper is a contagious disease. It is caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of dogs. The virus can also attack wild animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, mink and ferrets, tigers, leopards, and cats. If you are a dog owner then you should need to know about certain vaccines as part of the standard preventive care routine. For more information regarding canine distemper, keep reading here at PetVet.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine distemper is a viral disease that can wipe out entire towns of dogs. The virus can invade other parts of the body. For example, the nervous system as well as the respiratory and gastrointestinal system. Canine distemper is closely related to the measles virus in humans. Nowadays this disease is rare because of vaccinations. But it always remains a risk for dogs who don’t have up to date vaccinations.

How could your dog catch canine distemper?

Your dog is always at risk if he comes in contact with an infected animal. Viruses can transfer from an infected animal via coughing or sneezing. By sharing toys and water bowls with an infected animal can put your dog at risk. Nasal discharge is heavily laden with the virus. Infected dog mothers can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies. Contact between wild animals and domestic dogs can also facilitate the spread of the virus.

1.Puppies younger than four months old

2.Dogs that have not been vaccinated against canine distemper

Dog is at playing with canine infected dog

How is canine distemper diagnosed and treated?

Canine distemper diagnosed through clinical appearance and laboratory testing. There is no cure for this infection. The treatment includes supportive care. Secondary infections(vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and neurologic symptom) can be prevented by supportive care. Dogs should be separated from infected dogs.

Also Read: 5 Tips For Helping Your Cat To Lose Weight

How to check if your dog is infected?

Signs of canine distemper vary and they can be an indicator of other diseases such as respiratory symptoms tend to crop up first. Initially, the dog will develop watery to pus-like discharge from the eyes. With time they develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, and lethargy. The dog infected with canine distemper may suffer from gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and anorexia (reduced appetite). If the nervous system damage it may also develop seizures, twitching, and paralysis


There is no medicine that can “kill” or “cure” the virus. However, there is a high risk for secondary infection, Antibiotics may be used for this reason. You might think of it as a severe case of the flu in humans. Supportive care can include “Intravenous fluids, cough suppressants and drugs to control seizures.” For distemper cases, hospitalization is generally necessary to get the full range of nursing care and to reduce the risk of infection to other animals.


Because this disease can be fatal, the prevention of infection in the first place is key. Vaccination should be a part of the standard puppy series of immunizations and boosters. Annually or after every three years, the dogs should be vaccinated. While no vaccine can give us 100% guarantee that a dog will never become ill. This preventative measure is the best line of defense. With the potential increasing virulence of emerging strains and the wide host range of canine distemper virus, widespread vaccination of domestic dogs is essential.”If your dog is due for the distemper vaccine or any other important veterinary care services please be sure to make an appointment.

Distemper can be prevented through regular vaccinations

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