Canine distemper is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of dogs including coyotes and other animals such as raccoons, skunks, seals, and ferrets. Dogs of all ages are susceptible, but the young puppy is especially vulnerable. Direct contact is not necessary for transmission since the virus can be airborne. Early signs may include a discharge from the eyes and/or nose, listlessness, and a cough. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, and convulsions. If convulsions occur, death often follows. Early treatment will help minimize permanent disease complications.
Distemper is a disease veterinarians see less often today because of vaccination programs. But the potential is always present because of unvaccinated dogs and transmission from wildlife.
Distemper vaccines are given to puppies ideally at about 7-8 weeks of age, boostered 3-4 weeks after the initial vaccine, given again 1 year later and then given every 3 years after that.
We ask that all patients receive a full examination before vaccines are administered. Certain underlying health problems, which may be difficult to recognize, can interfere with vaccine efficacy. Additionally, if your pet is incubating an infection, vaccines may complicate the problem. For these reasons, Dr. Warren wants to ensure that your pet is healthy and in suitable condition to receive the vaccines. During the examination visit, Dr. Warren and our technicians will discuss necessary and recommended vaccines and help determine the vaccine protocol that will best serve your pet.
WSVMA, Infectious Diseases of Dogs and Cats and their prevention [pamphlet], Snoqualmie, WA.