Distemper in Dogs

Last Updated on: 24th March 2024, 12:01 pm

Distemper is caused by the canine distemper virus (CDV), which is related to the viruses that cause measles in humans and rinderpest in cattle.

The disease is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected dog or through airborne exposure to the virus contained in respiratory secretions. Puppies and dogs that are unvaccinated or have incomplete vaccinations are at the highest risk of contracting distemper.

Why Distemper is Important

The significance of addressing distemper lies in its high morbidity and mortality rates. Dogs that contract distemper face a tough battle, with the disease affecting various systems of the body:

  • Respiratory System: Symptoms can include coughing and nasal discharge.
  • Gastrointestinal System: Affected dogs may suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Nervous System: In more severe cases, distemper can lead to seizures, paralysis, and other neurological complications.

Given its contagious nature, an outbreak of distemper can have devastating effects on shelters, kennels, and communities with high populations of unvaccinated dogs. Early detection and prevention through vaccination are key in managing the spread of this disease.

The Impact of Distemper

Distemper not only affects the health and well-being of dogs but also places a strain on veterinary resources and can cause emotional distress for pet owners. The disease’s impact can be mitigated through awareness and preventative measures, but once contracted, the options for treatment are limited to supportive care aimed at managing symptoms and preventing secondary infections.

Preventing Distemper

Prevention is the cornerstone of managing distemper in the canine population. Key strategies include:

  • Vaccination: Regular vaccination is the most effective way to protect dogs from distemper. Puppies should receive their first shots between 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by booster shots as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Isolation of Infected Animals: Dogs suspected of having distemper should be isolated from other dogs to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Sanitation: Regular cleaning and disinfection of kennels, shelters, and any items used by dogs can help reduce the risk of disease transmission.


Distemper is a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities in canine health and the importance of preventative care. The disease’s severity underscores the need for vaccination and responsible pet ownership to protect our canine companions from this deadly threat.

By fostering awareness and taking proactive measures against distemper, we can safeguard the health of dogs and ensure they lead long, happy lives alongside their human families.


Related Posts