Canine Distemper Virus

Also a cause of “Kennel Cough”, Canine Distemper Virus produces cold-like symptoms. The disease can cause damage to the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, and central nervous systems.

Canine Distemper was once a leading cause of death in domestic dogs until large scale vaccination programs were implemented in 1960. Currently, Canine Distemper is common in wild animals and is usually spread where large numbers of neglected or stray dogs are kept.

Domestic dogs most susceptible to Canine Distemper are puppies less than six months old and unvaccinated dogs.


Discharge from the eye, diarrhea, slight fever, cough, labored breathing, runny nose, loss of appetite, and vomiting.


Transfers from animal to animal through bodily secretions, mainly airborne respiratory secretions. Recovering animals can still shed the virus for several weeks and the virus is capable of living in the environment for as long as two weeks. After infection symptoms do not arise for 10 to 14 days.


Canine Distemper Virus initially infects the lymphatic system where it reproduces and spreads to the lymphoid organs. From here it spreads to the blood then spreads to the cell lining of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, and central nervous systems where it does damage.

Some dogs survive the initial infection only to show neurological dysfunction weeks later including seizures, behavioral changes, rhythmic motions, and other ambulatory problems. Dogs who recover from the infection and escape neurologic disease may go on to develop retinal damage, corneal discoloration, or extreme hardness of the skin of the nose or foot pads.


Yes, usually due to neurological complications.


There is no cure for Canine Distemper. Treatment consists of treating symptoms and general support.


Vaccination is available for Canine Distemper. Keep healthy dogs away from dogs with questionable health such as stray and wild animals and out of areas they inhabit.

Danger to Humans:

Humans can carry the disease but do not show symptoms.

Danger to Other Animals:

Affects carnivores including dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, ferrets, mink, weasels, foxes, and pandas.