Canine Distemper Virus
Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal
disease that affects dogs, especially those that are young or unvaccinated.
Dogs can become infected through both air (sneezing, coughing, barking, etc.) and through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected dogs (saliva, urine, feces, etc.). CDV
can be spread before any symptoms of illness are even shown and can also be
contracted from wildlife such as ferrets, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. After being
exposed and infected, the virus quickly spreads throughout the body and weakens
the immune system.
The most common signs of CDV are fever, eye & nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and crusting of the nose & paw pads. In extreme cases there can even be neurological signs such as stumbling, twitching of the face, seizures, and paralysis.
There is currently no cure or specific treatment for CDV, only supportive
care and reducing the severity of symptoms as they arise. Even with the best
treatment, it can be fatal and those that recover often have lifelong neurological
effects. This is why preventative measures are so important.
Luckily, there is a vaccine that is very effective at preventing this virus.
CDV is a core vaccine starting at 6-8 weeks old and is repeated every 3-4 weeks
until the dog is 16-20 weeks old.
Young dogs should avoid high-risk locations with other dogs, such as dog parks & stores, until the initial vaccine series is complete.
After the initial puppy vaccines, it is recommended that dogs get a CDV booster
vaccine yearly. Once properly vaccinated, dogs are usually immune to the canine
If your pet has any related symptoms or you have any concerns
related to CDV, it is always best to contact your veterinarian.