Enter your search term

Search by title or post keyword

Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, Infection and Treatment

Our website is supported by our users. We sometimes earn affiliate links when you click through the affiliate links on our website

Contact us for Questions

Distemper in Dogs: Distemper is also known as canine distemper. This is one of the most common and lethal contagious diseases for dogs. The distemper affects the digestive system and the respiratory system of dogs. In advanced cases, it can also affect the nervous system.

This disease is caused by a virus of the family paramixoviridae, similar to that of human measles. This virus also affects other canids such as the Australian wild dog, the coyote, the jackal, the fox or the wolf. It can even affect the mustelids such as the weasel, the skunk or the otter and the procyonids such as the coati, the red panda or the raccoon.

Distemper in Dogs
Distemper in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

This serious disease is not transmitted to humans but it can greatly affect your dog, putting his life at stake. So in this article, the symptoms and the treatment of the distemper in the dogs, as well as the contagion routes and the prevention of the disease has been provided. Continue reading…

What is Canine Distemper?

Distemper in dogs also known as canine distemper. This is a virus belonging to the genus Morbillivirus of the paramyxovirus family. It is an infectious viral disease that not only affects dogs, but can also be transmitted to other animal species such as those discussed above. It is a very serious pathology.

The distemper in dogs could be compared to a kind of measles. Similar to that suffered by humans in childhood. It mainly affects puppies dogs although it may be the case in older dogs which will suffer more symptoms of the disease.

What Is Canine Distemper

In principle, if we correctly follow the vaccination schedule of the dog, it is unlikely that our dog will suffer distemper disease. Currently, there is a specific vaccine to treat the virus. However, its effectiveness is not 100%. For example, Immunosuppressed dogs are more vulnerable to the transmission of the disease even when vaccinated. Good nutrition, quality care and a life without stress will help you stay healthy and strong.

The spread of Distemper Among Dogs

The contagion occurs when a healthy animal comes in contact with viral particles that are in the air in the form of an aerosol. Of course, a sick animal has to be present, or have been in the contagion zone. Any dog is at risk of getting distemper.

However, the dogs that are most at risk are dogs that have not been vaccinated against the disease and puppies less than four months old. Puppies that are still nursing can be protected by the immunity offered by breast milk (if the mother is vaccinated), but this does not mean that precautions should be ignored.

It can also be transmitted in various ways, such as through the fluids of infected animals or the water and food they have consumed. The virus is incubated for about 14 – 18 days inside our dog then symptoms gradually begin to appear. Basically, all dogs are susceptible to suffering from the distemper virus, although those who are vaccinated will always have a lower predisposition.

Symptoms of Distemper in Dogs

The first symptom of distemper is a watery discharge or pus in the eyes. In later stages, there is fever, nasal discharge, cough, lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some cases, there is a thickening of the plant of the pads of the legs. In advanced stages of the disease, the dog’s nervous system may be compromised. In these cases, seizures, spasms or paralysis (partial or complete) may occur.

Symptoms Of Distemper In Dogs

Most dogs get distemper to die. Those who survive the disease tend to have behavioral disorders caused by damage to the nervous system. It can be difficult to detect distemper in its early stages since the symptoms are not always very evident. It could be that the dog seems a little tired and one thinks that it is because he did some physical activity or because it is very hot. In case of doubt, you should take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

In summary, the symptoms of distemper are the following:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decay in general
  • Weightloss
  • Dehydration
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Red eyes
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dry keratitis
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hardening of the pads
  • Skin Rashes
  • Involuntary movements of muscles
  • Seizures

So these are the symptoms which you will see in the distemper dogs.

Treatment of Distemper in Dogs

Before the appearance of one or more symptoms, we must take the dog to the veterinarian. Who will do the pertinent tests and diagnose our dog the distemper virus. From then on, the treatment begins, always in the hands of the expert. Remember that the sooner distemper is detected, the more chances your dog will survive.

If your dog is already infected, administering the vaccine will no longer have any effect on him. You should know that there is no treatment to eliminate the virus when the disease has occurred.

Treatment of Distemper in Dogs

The only treatment that can currently be given to dogs infected with distemper is to alleviate the symptoms, avoid dehydration and prevent secondary infections. If necessary, the veterinarian can recommend euthanasia to avoid further suffering to the dog.

Usually, the veterinarian uses treatment with the use of antibiotics to fight against the infection. They also usually administer vitamin supplements to alleviate some symptoms and provide welfare to the animal. Helping the dog to drink water is a good way to keep him hydrated.

Prevention of Distemper

The only proven way to prevent distemper is to vaccinate the dog against the disease. However, this vaccine is not 100% effective. Vaccinated puppies can get sick occasionally. This can occur when the immunity offered by breast milk prevents the vaccine from taking effect and leaves the puppies unprotected.

The vaccine is received for the first time between 6 and 8 weeks of age and a booster is received on an annual basis. During the pregnancy of the dog, it is also a time when we must pay attention to the vaccination since in this way the antibodies will be transmitted to the puppies during the lactation. Remember that you should not take your dog out of the home without the appropriate vaccines. You will put your life at risk.

Recommended Articles:

How to Care a Dog with Distemper

The symptoms of distemper affect him in different ways. We must ensure that our dog feels comfortable, stable and loved. In addition, we can apply this extra care always consulting the veterinarian first:


Ask your veterinarian which are the most suitable options, although from here we recommend a lot of water or homemade chicken broth (without salt or condiments). It is possible that your pet does not want to drink, try to help her by using syringes without a tip.

dog not eating after giving birth


It happens the same as with water. Most likely your dog will not want to eat because of the discomfort he feels. Give premium canned food, much more appetizing than your normal feed. You will also feel pampered and favor your recovery. The moist food also provides hydration.

B Complex Vitamins

They have a positive effect on the muscles of the animal.

Follow all the Advice of your Veterinarian

Distemper is a difficult virus to cure. So remember that it will be your priority both for your dog and for other pets that can live nearby


Hence, You have got the complete information about distemper in dogs along with the causes, symptoms of distemper in dogs, prevention and the treatment for distemper in dogs. We hope you like this article and willing to share the article at social networking sites. Feel free to ask your questions in the comment box below. Stay tuned to dogsfud for more dog articles. Thanks for Visiting…

Leave a Comment

Explore More within Happy Pets Now

Happy Pets Now
A comprehensive resource for information about your pet.
post explore
Happy Pets Now
  • Types of Fish

Tadpoles: Types, Behaviors, Lifespan, Costs & More

September 21, 2022
7 min read
Happy Pets Now
  • Health & Care

Cherry Shrimp Care: Tank, Water & Food Requirements

September 5, 2022
8 min read
Happy Pets Now
  • Types of Fish

Cherry Shrimp: Behaviors, Lifespan, Tank & Water Requirements, Care & More

September 5, 2022
6 min read

The Best Pet Resource Hub on the Web. Subscribe to our Newsletter!