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Healthy Hounds: The Dangers of Distemper


Understanding the diseases that can harm your pet and the vaccinations that will protect them is an important part of responsible pet ownership.

As pet parents, most of us don’t pay attention to what are pets are being vaccinated against.  We thought it be interesting to research the common dog vaccinations, and share the results with you!  Each week, we will go over a different vaccination for a different dog disease.

Last time on Healthy Hounds, we discussed Leptospirosis and whether or not you should vaccinate your dog against the disease.

This time, we will discuss the dangers of deadly Distemper.

The Distemper virus is still prevalent throughout the United States, but is especially prevalent in certain regions where the population is not well educated in the importance of vaccinations and regular veterinary care.
Therefore, it is especially important that you double check your pet’s vaccination dates if you are planning a trip and suspect that the  population might fall in the limited veterinary care category.

You should do this even if you don’t plan on taking your dog or cat with you, as you can actually pick up the virus on your shoes and carry it home with you!

Distemper can also be prevalent in pets that are bought in pet stores, as very often these pets have been breed under dubious circumstances, in unknown and unsanitary puppy mills.  Therefore, if you do purchase a pet from a pet store, make sure all of your other pets are properly vaccinated!

One of the most insidious aspects of the disease is that your dog or cat does not need to come into direct contact with an infected animal to contract distemper.  Your pet can become infected by simply being in an area where an infected animal has urinated.  For this reason, it is vitally important that you wait until your puppy or kitten is fully immunized (they must have had the third booster shot in the puppy/kitten vaccination series) before you give them too much outdoor exposure.

Canine distemper affects an animal’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems.  The early symptoms include sneezing, coughing and thick eye and nose mucus.  Additional symptoms include fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite.

As many of these symptoms are also characteristic of benign conditions, such as kennel cough, diet change, eating of table scraps or even stress, they are easily ignored.  But, if you or your dog have been in an area that is possibly prone to distemper, you take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.   Early veterinarian care is crucial if your pet is to survive this disease.

We hope that you have found this post helpful and informative.  Please share this blog with as many folks as you can, as it could possibly save a pet’s life sometime down the road!