How Do Dogs Get Distemper - Vetezi.In/Wp-Admin/Options-General.Php

How Do Dogs Get Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that affects dogs worldwide. Caused by a virus, this disease can have devastating consequences for unvaccinated dogs, leading to a range of symptoms from respiratory distress to neurological problems. Understanding how dogs contract distemper is crucial for pet owners to take proactive measures to protect their furry companions.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various modes of transmission, explore the characteristic symptoms, and discuss effective preventive measures against canine distemper. By equipping ourselves with knowledge, we can safeguard our beloved dogs from this debilitating disease.


Canine distemper is a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease that affects dogs. It is caused by a paramyxovirus known as canine distemper virus (CDV).CDV is a single-stranded, negative-sense RNA virus that belongs to the family Paramyxoviridae. It is closely related to other paramyxoviruses that cause respiratory infections in humans, such as measles and mumps.

Transmission of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects dogs. The virus is spread through direct contact with infected animals or through contaminated objects or environments.

Direct Contact

Direct contact with an infected animal is the most common mode of transmission for canine distemper. The virus is present in the saliva, urine, and feces of infected animals, and it can be transmitted through contact with these bodily fluids.

Contaminated Objects or Environments

The virus can also be transmitted through contaminated objects or environments. The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, and it can be transmitted to dogs that come into contact with these surfaces. This can include objects such as food bowls, water bowls, toys, and bedding.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper manifests itself in three distinct stages: early, middle, and late. Each stage presents with a unique set of clinical signs that reflect the progression of the virus throughout the dog’s body.

The following table provides an overview of the symptoms associated with each stage of canine distemper:

Stages of Canine Distemper and Associated Symptoms

Stage Clinical Signs
Early Stage (3-6 days)
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Watery discharge from eyes and nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
Middle Stage (1-3 weeks)
  • Neurological problems (e.g., seizures, circling, head tilt)
  • Respiratory issues (e.g., pneumonia, bronchitis)
  • Gastrointestinal distress (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Hardened pads on feet
  • Skin lesions
Late Stage (weeks to months)
  • Permanent neurological damage
  • Encephalitis
  • Death

Diagnosis of Canine Distemper

Diagnosing canine distemper involves a combination of physical examinations, blood tests, and other diagnostic tools. Physical examinations can reveal symptoms such as fever, discharge from the eyes or nose, and neurological signs. Blood tests can detect antibodies against the distemper virus and measure levels of white blood cells, which may be decreased in distemper cases.

Differential Diagnosis

Differential diagnosis is crucial to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. These may include canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus, and rabies. Diagnostic tests, such as serological assays and virus isolation, can help differentiate between these diseases and confirm a diagnosis of canine distemper.

Treatment of Canine Distemper

how do dogs get distemper

Treating canine distemper involves a multifaceted approach that aims to alleviate symptoms, support the immune system, and prevent complications. Early intervention is crucial for improving the chances of a successful outcome.

Supportive Care

Supportive care forms the cornerstone of canine distemper treatment. It includes measures to:

  • Maintain hydration through intravenous fluids or subcutaneous injections.
  • Provide nutritional support through a high-calorie diet or intravenous feeding.
  • Manage seizures with anticonvulsant medications.
  • Control secondary infections with antibiotics.

Antiviral Medications

Antiviral medications, such as ribavirin, can help reduce the viral load and mitigate the severity of the infection. However, their effectiveness is limited, especially in advanced stages of the disease.


Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat secondary bacterial infections that often accompany canine distemper. Common antibiotics include amoxicillin, cefazolin, and enrofloxacin.

Importance of Early Intervention and Ongoing Supportive Care

Timely diagnosis and prompt initiation of treatment are critical for improving the prognosis. Early intervention can help minimize the severity of symptoms, prevent complications, and enhance the immune response.

Ongoing supportive care throughout the course of the disease is essential to ensure the patient’s comfort, maintain hydration and nutrition, and prevent secondary infections.

Prevention of Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal to dogs. Fortunately, there are a number of effective ways to prevent distemper, including vaccination and proper hygiene.


The most important step in preventing canine distemper is vaccination. The distemper vaccine is a core vaccine for dogs, and it is recommended that all puppies and adult dogs be vaccinated. Puppies should receive their first vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age, followed by a booster vaccination at 12-16 weeks of age.

Adult dogs should receive a booster vaccination every 3 years.The distemper vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease. However, it is important to note that no vaccine is 100% effective. Therefore, it is still possible for a vaccinated dog to become infected with distemper.

However, vaccinated dogs are much less likely to develop severe symptoms or die from the disease.

Other Preventive Measures

In addition to vaccination, there are a number of other things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting distemper. These include:* Isolating infected animals: If you have a dog that is showing signs of distemper, it is important to isolate them from other dogs to prevent the spread of the disease.

Proper sanitation

Keeping your dog’s environment clean and free of debris can help to reduce the risk of exposure to the distemper virus.

Avoiding contact with unvaccinated dogs

Unvaccinated dogs are more likely to carry the distemper virus, so it is important to avoid contact between your dog and unvaccinated dogs.By following these preventive measures, you can help to protect your dog from canine distemper.

Last Word

how do dogs get distemper

Canine distemper is a serious threat to dogs, but with proper vaccination and preventive care, we can significantly reduce the risk of infection. By understanding the modes of transmission, recognizing the symptoms, and implementing proactive measures, we can protect our furry friends from the devastating effects of this disease.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and the well-being of our canine companions depends on our responsible actions.


Can humans get distemper from dogs?

No, canine distemper is not transmissible to humans.

Is there a cure for canine distemper?

There is no specific cure for canine distemper, but supportive care and treatment of symptoms can improve the chances of survival.

How long is a dog contagious with distemper?

Dogs are contagious with distemper for up to 90 days after infection.

Can a dog recover from distemper?

Yes, some dogs can recover from distemper with early intervention and supportive care.

How can I prevent my dog from getting distemper?

The most effective way to prevent distemper is through vaccination.

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