Skip to Main Content

Los Gatos Animal Hospital | Los Gatos

  • 11981 Jack Benny Dr STE 101 Rancho Cucamonga CA 91739 US
  • (909) 941-0841
Ask About Financing

Distemper in Dogs

Preventive care can help reduce the risk of your pup contracting various potentially severe illnesses and diseases. Here, our Rancho Cucamonga vets share the common symptoms and effects of distemper in dogs, what can be done if your pup is diagnosed and how it can be prevented.

What is distemper in dogs?

Canine distemper is a highly contagious virus that can affect your dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Did you know that the distemper virus is present in several different species of mammals worldwide?

What are the causes of distemper in dogs?

Distemper is a serious condition in dogs and can even be fatal for some. Canine distemper is caused by a virus called paramyxovirus, which is related to both the measles and rinderpest viruses.

This virus can cause great harm to your dog because it affects multiple internal systems simultaneously.

The Transmission of Canine Distemper

The canine distemper virus can be spread in several ways. The most common transmission is through droplets in the air from infected pets or wildlife.

Distemper can also be spread among dogs by sharing toys, bowls and blankets, especially in social settings such as kennels.

If your dog is pregnant, the distemper virus may pass to her puppies in the womb through the placenta.

Signs of Distemper in Dogs

Distemper symptoms in dogs usually begin with yellow to green eye discharge along with the following other symptoms soon afterward:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Eating less than usual
  • Diarrhea

While some dogs commonly experience common cold symptoms when infected with distemper, some may be asymptomatic.

What happens when canine distemper is left untreated?

If distemper in dogs is left untreated, it can progress to more severe symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Chewing motions of the jaw
  • Seizures
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Pneumonia
  • Crusting of the nose and foot pads
  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Death, in many cases

Is canine distemper contagious?

Distemper is an incredibly contagious virus as animals that are infected can not only appear perfectly healthy but can also spread the virus for months.

The canine distemper virus is known to affect puppies due to their lack of adequate vaccinations. That said, any dog not fully vaccinated will be at an increased risk of the virus.

How is distemper diagnosed in dogs?

Suppose you suspect that your dog may have contracted the canine distemper virus. In that case, your vet will request diagnostic testing in the veterinary laboratory and a physical examination of the symptoms to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Distemper in Dogs

If your dog contracts distemper, your vet will focus on addressing and managing any symptoms that they might be experiencing.

The treatment of distemper in dogs depends on the condition that they are in and the symptoms they are experiencing. For dogs suffering from severe diarrhea or vomiting, they will prescribe medications to ease the symptoms and recommend hydration options to help prevent dehydration. One of these options may include IV treatments, which can provide all of these treatments in one. 

Respiratory illness is one of many ways that this virus can affect dogs. If this is the case for your pup, your vet will offer support and treatment options to help your dog breathe better and recover as quickly as possible.

Distemper in dogs may also cause neurological concerns, which can result in seizures and may be potentially fatal. Your vet will monitor your dog's condition if these issues occur and offer options as needed.

How to Prevent Distemper in Dogs

While being a serious condition, canine distemper can thankfully be prevented. Some of the ways that you can help to protect your pup can include:

  • Keep your dog up to date with distemper vaccinations
  • Prevent your dog from having contact with wildlife
  • Keeping your unvaccinated dog or puppy away from social settings and other animals

If you have questions about canine distemper prevention or are concerned that your dog may be showing the signs, speak with your vet. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need to schedule your pup for routine vaccinations? Contact our vets in Rancho Cucamonga to book a preventive care appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rancho Cucamonga companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (909) 941-0841