Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is caused by a virus that is shed in bodily fluids of infected animals. Canine distemper affects primarily the lungs, intestines, and nervous system. Symptoms of canine distemper can include coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, weight loss, seizures, and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). Secondary infections can present as discharge from the eyes and/or nose, and pneumonia.

Puppies, especially those from shelters, are at the highest risk of contracting canine distemper. Currently there are no antiviral medications to treat canine distemper.

Treatment is aimed at controlling secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics and supportive care as needed. Vaccinations aimed at preventing canine distemper is the best strategy. Puppies should be isolated from other dogs until they have completed their series of vaccinations after 14 weeks of age.