Monday, August 3, 2009

The Canine Distemper Disease and How to Prevent It

I am sure we all want to protect our pets from disease and one common disease, called Canine Distemper is a worldwide problem and young puppies, in particular are the most susceptible and the most likely to die from the disease.

It is possible for humans to have a sub-clinical CDV infection although anyone who has had an anti measles vaccination, will be immunized as the two diseases are related.

Dog Distemper Transmission

The disease can be spread by coming into contact with the bodily secretions and nasal fluid from an infected animal but most commonly ingestion via airborne particles from infected animals i.e. breathing in the particles.

How can it be prevented?

All dogs and all breeds are at risk from Canine Distemper with older dogs who have not been vaccinated and particularly puppies being most at risk because their immune systems are still immature. There is no cure for CDV, prevention is the only viable solution and since development of the vaccine in the early 1960's there has been a substantial reduction in the number of fatalities, attributed to this disease. At one time Canine Distemper was the highest reported cause of death in domestic dogs.

Vaccination is the way to protect your dog and until your pet has been vaccinated, be careful where you take him. Since airborne ingestion is the most common form of infection, be especially aware in parks, dog areas, kennels, and grooming premises. Try to avoid exposing your dog to any animals that you are unfamiliar with, including wild animals as it is often the wild animal population that is attributed for the sporadic outbreaks of the disease. The Canine Distemper virus (paramyxovirus) also occurs in Ferrets, Foxes, Mink, and other carnivores.

Puppies, being particularly at risk can receive vaccination from 6 weeks and should be re-vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until 16 months old. Newborn pups prior to vaccination need to be kept away from other dogs and areas of possible contamination. Adult dogs should continue be vaccinated every year.

Speak with your vet about local issues and problems that can affect your pet.

Look out for Distemper in Dogs

Following ingestion, infections are replicated in the lymph nodes although dogs can appear to be quite normal for several days following the actual contamination and initial Distemper symptoms may include

• Loss of appetite

• Runny nose

• Watery eyes

• Diarrhea

• Cough

• Labored breathing

• Sore throat.

• Vomiting

The Treatment

There is no cure for actual Canine Distemper Disease but supportive treatments include controlling the spread and the severity of secondary ailments like vomiting, diarrhea, and fluid discharge.

Providing a warm and draft free environment with good nursing care will make the dog as secure and comfortable as possible.

Monitor for dehydration

The vet will probably use antibiotics and drugs to control any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, twitching and spasm.


Following recovery, an infected animal can still be a carrier and needs to be quarantined for a minimum period of 2 weeks to reduce the possibility of contaminating and infecting other animals.


Prevention and vaccination is the best option of all.

If during the course of treatment or convalescence the dog appears to respond well, you must avoid the temptation of allowing the animal outside, even on what might seem a mild day, as the colder air and ground can exacerbate its respiratory problems with possible dire consequences. This information was compiled for your interest because it is an extremely serious illness, and if you suspect Distemper in your dog you should consult with your Vet Practice immediately for help and treatment.

By. Cristian Stan


  1. Canine Distemper is a horrible dog disease. When my puppy came down with the disease, it was a horrible day. I instantly visited for more information on the disease and how to take care of a dog living with the disease. Luckily, my puppy was able to overcome the disease and today is a very happy dog.

  2. Thank you for the information you provided on how to prevent this disease! It is very important for dog owners like me.

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