Distemper in Dogs: Does My Dog Have It?

distemper in dogs

Distemper in dogs or canine distemper is a viral illness that affects all types and species of dogs. This particular illness also affects other animals such as raccoons, skunks, and others. It is caused by a virus belonging to the family of Morbillivirus. 

The virus causes a wide array of unpleasant signs and symptoms. It’s particularly dangerous because it affects many organs of a dog’s body. Some canine viruses only target the respiratory tract, and others focus on the gastrointestinal tract. Meanwhile, the canine distemper virus affects both of these, as well as the nervous system. Furthermore, it also infects the eyes. 

If you’re wondering whether your dog may have distemper or not, keep on reading to find out more about the disease.

What are the early signs of distemper in dogs?

During the early stages of distemper in dogs, they would usually experience high fevers (temperatures ≥103˚F). Also, eye and nasal discharges are one of the earliest signs you can see in your dog. Furthermore, sneezing and coughing may already be present early on in the disease. 

We highly recommend you bring your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect distemper in your dog. However, if it is not possible and you want to figure out on your own, check out this test kit.

You can get a home test kit for distemper in dogs from BYyushop. We all know how difficult it is to see your dog getting sick. If you wish to find out whether your dog suffers from distemper, this test kit is the way to go.

Pros: Portable, easy-to-use, lightweight

Cons: Difficult to get or purchase

What are the signs and symptoms of distemper in dogs?

Distemper in dogs don’t usually present with specific signs and symptoms that are unique to the illness. It is why diagnosing distemper in dogs may be very tasking. Typically, as previously mentioned, dogs infected with the virus would present with a high fever. 

Check your dog’s temperature with a pet thermometer such as this one from Hurinan. This digital rectal thermometer is great for accurately measuring your dog’s temperature. It is safe to use and works very quickly. You may also use this with your other pets at home.

Pros: Quick-reading, accurate, all-around thermometer

Cons: None

Other common signs and symptoms of distemper in dogs include lethargy or weakness. Moreover, dogs may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. Watch out for a loss of appetite or anorexia in your dog, too. 

In the late stage of the disease, your dog may experience nervous system symptoms. These include confusion, seizure-like jerking motions, and thickening of feet pads. 

Don’t let the disease come to the final stage because, at this point, there might not be anything your vet can do. It’s essential to look at the early signs because it is at this stage where you could save your dog’s life. 

How do dogs get distemper?

As previously discussed, a virus causes a dog distemper. Another animal can transmit this virus through coughing and sneezing. Furthermore, this particular virus settles on surfaces when expelled by an infected animal. Thus, even if the infected animal has long been gone, the virus can stay within your dog’s reach. Once your dog touches or licks the area where the virus is, it can contract the disease. 

If you have another pet with this disease, isolate the infected pet from the others. Afterwhich, disinfect the areas where the infected pet dwelled. 

You may do this with a homemade chlorine solution. Dilute 1 part bleach in 8 parts water. You may use this to scrub down areas and surfaces where the infected dog was. However, if you want a quick job, you may use disinfecting wipes such as this one from Nature’s Miracle. It even has a dotted texture to ensure you’re efficiently scrubbing away any dirt or stain stuck on crevices.

Pros: Convenient, quick and easy to use

Cons: A bit pricey

Why do dogs need distemper shots?

Distemper in dogs can easily be prevented with canine distemper vaccinations. While these shots are not really therapeutic but rather preventive, it’s still beneficial to give even if your dog already has the disease. If given within three days from infection, it may even be protective of the disease. Furthermore, if you have other animals, it’s an excellent choice to give your dogs distemper shots. Not only does it protect your vaccinated dog, but it also protects other animals.

If your dog is not comfortable being at the vet’s clinic, try to reassure and calm them down. This Healex Dog Calming Collar is an easy way to calm your dog. It’s ideal for dogs who get anxious from time to time, whether at the vet or not. Furthermore, it contains pheromones that are fast-acting, relaxing, and calming. 

Pros: Made of natural ingredients, easy to wear, comfortable

Cons: May cause allergic reaction (perform a patch test first)

How many distemper shots does a dog need?

Your dog only needs one shot. Typically, this shot confers long-life immunity from the virus. No studies are proving the effectiveness or necessity of giving booster shots. In a recent study, researchers found that dogs who were vaccinated at age 12-16 weeks had 100% protection from the virus. Just make sure that you’re getting the best quality and high titer vaccine.

Can older dogs get distemper?

Distemper in dogs doesn’t choose their host. As long as the vaccine unprotects the dog, it has the chance of contracting the virus – no matter what age. Thus, even older dogs can get distemper. 

Help your elderly dog boost their immune system with this supplement. The Zesty Paws Senior Advanced multivitamins are specially concocted for our elderly dogs. They come in chewy, yummy bite sizes, so it’s easier for your dogs to chew.

Pros: Specially formulated for elderly dogs, great taste, and texture.

Cons: Slightly more expensive than regular vitamins.

As your dog ages, they may have difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients from their food. Nature’s Recipe Senior dog food is specially formulated for elderly dogs who need the highest quality of nutrients. The dog food doesn’t include any additives such as corn, starch, and other unnecessary fillers. It ensures that your dog is only getting what he or she needs. Moreover, it is also high in fiber to aid your dog’s digestion

Pros: High in proteins and vitamins, helps increase the absorption of nutrients

Cons: Lamb flavor only

Can a vaccinated dog get distemper?

Unfortunately, your vaccinated dog may still get distemper. However, the good news is that because your dog’s immune system is boosted (via vaccination), the disease won’t be as critical. Furthermore, your dog won’t have as high levels of the virus in its system. Thus, there won’t be too many viruses spreading in the environment. It is great if you have other pets at home as well.

Can a dog recover from distemper?

Distemper in dogs is a severe illness that, unfortunately, can’t be fully cured at the moment. The key in the treatment is to help the dog’s immune system to fight off the virus, so the signs and symptoms won’t be as severe. Furthermore, recovery from the symptoms highly depends on your dog’s age, quality of nutrition, previous vaccinations, and other factors. Fortunately, some dogs recover in time without severe complications.

How to prevent distemper in dogs?

Your dog might not have distemper, but as a pet parent, you want to do everything in your power to help your dog avoid contracting this illness. The good thing about viral illnesses is that they can be avoided. As always, keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date. It’s the best prevention you could use. Apart from vaccination, there are still other things you can do. One of the best ways to do so is to boost your dog’s immune system. 

The Zenapet Dog Immune Support is a good all-natural vitamin supplement for your dogs. Looking into this supplement, you can instantly see that it’s packed with essential vitamins such as B-complex, Vitamin A, C, D, and E. Furthermore, it’s also rich in antioxidants to fight the free radicals in your dog’s body.

Pros: Loaded with vitamins and minerals, all-natural, convenient powder form

Cons: Needs to be mixed with food

Making sure your dog is getting the right amount of sleep and exercise is crucial in boosting their immune systems as well. Typically, an adult dog would need at least 10-12 hours of sleep per day. However, this depends on your dog’s level of activity and breed. 

Distemper in dogs is an illness we all want our dogs to dodge. Fortunately, there are things you can do as a pet parent to help your dogs combat and prevent this disease. There’s only so much that you can do when your dog already has it. Thus, consulting with a veterinarian is the best option in this case.