The Canine Distemper Virus And Vaccine

By Palani_CML

August is Immunization Awareness Month, and one of the most important immunizations for dogs to have is the distemper vaccine. Learn all about this dangerous virus and its vaccination below from a Millsap veterinary professional.

What is the Canine Distemper Virus?

The canine distemper virus attacks a dog’s respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and can affect the central nervous system as well. It’s also been known to affect certain eye membranes. Your veterinarian can tell you more about the details of the virus and its effects on your dog.

How Do Dogs Contract the Virus?

Dogs almost always contract distemper through contact with other infected dogs, since the virus is easily contagious. Normal activities like sharing water or food bowls or even just playing together can cause a dog to become infected from another. Direct contact with bodily fluids, like urine, saliva, or blood, is a sure-fire way for a dog to become infected.

What are the Symptoms of Infection?

Cold-like symptoms will usually be the first to appear in your dog, such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. Some dogs even have watery mucus running from the eyes. Later, your dog will exhibit weakness, fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. As soon as you notice the first signs, call your veterinarian immediately. If you know your dog has been in contact with other canines recently, perhaps at a kennel or public park, mention this to your vet.

How is Distemper Treated?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a complete cure for the canine distemper virus. Instead, treatment focuses on supporting your dog and getting rid of the symptoms. Fluid therapy and antibiotics are often prescribed; these keep any secondary infections at bay while your dog’s immune system fights off the virus.
Note that young puppies, elderly pets, and any dogs with weakened immune systems are especially prone to the virus if they haven’t been vaccinated. If these dogs contract the virus, they’ll need extra-intensive care and monitoring until the virus is defeated.

What About the Vaccine?

Clearly, it’s easier to prevent canine distemper with a simple shot than deal with it after the fact. Canine distemper is part of the core group of vaccines, and most dogs receive the shot as puppies. Set up an appointment with your Millsap veterinarian if your dog hasn’t been vaccinated already.


Texas West Animal Health

16367 South FM 4,

Santo, TX 76472

Phone. 940-769-2222

Fax. 866-632-3365