Distemper in Dogs: What is it? Symptoms How to cure it?

El distemper in dog, is a strong and infectious disease, which causes lesions in the respiratory and digestive systems of dogs. There are advanced cases that affect the nervous system of the canine. In this article we will learn more about symptoms and treatment.

What is Distemper in Dogs?

Distemper English name of mcanine occult or carré disease, is an infectious-contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks domestic animals, particularly dogs. This disease has a high mortality rate in Dog breeds and animals such as raccoons, bears, Japanese monkeys, big cats, otters, ferrets, among others.

It is a virus classified in the paramyxovirus family, it occurs in several forms: Gastrointestinal, respiratory, cutaneous and nervous. It can mainly affect puppies, although there have also been cases where adult dogs are infected with this virus and more if they have not received the vaccine against the disease, canine distemper in more serious cases can even cause death.

That is why it is so important to follow the vaccination schedule, so that we help the dog not to suffer from any type of virus by contagion. For dogs that are vulnerable, even if they are vaccinated, suffer from this virus and if they have a history of any secondary illness such as depression or stress, they must start treatment for distemper as soon as possible.

 How is distemper spread?

The contagion of distemper in dogs occurs when a canine in good health comes into contact with microscopic viral bacteria present in the air, as if they were spray particles. This virus is related to bovine influenza and measles. If there is an animal infected with the virus in a certain place inside or outside, the contagion of the disease remains for hours, causing the spread of the virus among other animals, in this particular case we are talking about the dog.

It is important to note that an animal that has already overcome the infection can also transmit it up to four (4) months after its recovery. Canine distemper repeats in the lymphatic tissue of the respiratory tract, subsequently contaminating the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and genital epithelium of dogs.

In the same way, it infects the central nervous system (CNS) in charge of transmitting nerve impulses to the muscles of the body and the animal's visual nerves. The vulnerability or health of the dog is what will prevent the virus from advancing or not to a degree of mortality.

It should be noted that the dogs with a high rate of risk of contagion are puppies with an age of no more than four (4) months. It is true that breast milk, as in humans, is rich in antibodies, but in the same way, precautions must be taken against this disease, which would be easy for the puppy to contract, since it is spread by the mucosa and fluids found. the water or food of a sick animal.

distemper in dog

Symptoms of distemper in dogs

 Distemper in dogs can occur in different ways, producing infections in the nervous, skin, mucous, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems, which is why this disease is so serious because of how the infection behaves, directly attacking the vulnerability of the dog. After the dog has been in contact with the virus, it has between three (3) and six (6) days for its incubation.

Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose since it goes unnoticed, so you must be aware of any sign that determines that you have the virus. Some of the symptoms are:

  1. He has a fever of 39 degrees Celsius and low white blood cells for several days, loss of appetite, no energy, with nasal and optic fluids.
  2. The secretion in the mucous membranes changes color to yellowish, thick and sticky as if it were pus. At this stage the dog has a dry cough and pus blisters can be seen on its belly.
  3. Continuous vomiting and diarrhea resulting in dehydration of the canine.
  4. Between seven (7) and fourteen (14) days, a false recovery is seen in the dog, with a subsequent relapse resulting from the conquest of the virus as a side effect which is where it already takes over the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract.
  5. A disease of the skin occurs specifically on the paw pads and nose, causing hardening to the point of cracking and secondary infection.
  6. Cerebellar hypoplasia that can occur as a result of infection, toxins, and lack of nutrients in the animal. Signs of instability of the extremities and head appear, making this type of involuntary movements, paralysis and hardening of the muscles may occur.
  7. There have been cases where the dog has epileptic-like seizures. Convulsions occur in the dog causing falls, and the walk is clumsy it seems that I could not see. All these involuntary movements can affect any part of the body, especially the head. If there is a recovery from the disease, these involuntary movements will continue to occur in the dog, but over time they will be less evident.

Types of distemper in dogs

It is important to mention that apart from everything said above, there are different types of distemper in dogs, and knowing the symptoms that occur in each of them will lead the doctor to a better diagnosis and apply a better treatment to the disease. There are three types of distemper in dogs which are:


It is the most frequent, with a period of one to two weeks after contracting the disease, with a first stage of fever, secretion in the mucous membranes, lack of appetite, gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, and diarrhea with dehydration.


Which arises from the secondary infections caused by the virus, infecting the nervous system, resulting in involuntary movements and hardening of the muscles, even paralysis of the limbs, urinary incontinence, seizures and even loss of vision. These symptoms may occur all or none, they can take weeks and even months to manifest any of these symptoms.

chronic distemper

The disease occurs in dogs with an age of four (4) to eight (8) years, there are not many of these cases. This virus causes encephalitis, tremors in the head, paralysis and instability in the extremities. In adult dogs, ataxia can be diagnosed, a disease that affects the neurological system, damaging the nerves and causing proprioception, which is how the dog's consciousness is what allows these messages to be given to the brain in relation to space in terms of the place where they are find the body.

distemper in dogs

Diagnosis of distemper in dogs

 Owners often wonder how to know if my dog ​​has distemper, because it can be confused with other diseases such as infectious canine hepatitis or leptospirosis, since the symptom of distemper in dogs manifests itself when the disease is advanced. When there are cases where the dog has bacterial and infectious diseases, distemper can be present and go unnoticed.

It is understood that despite the fact that it is a frequent and common disease, it is not easy to reach a real diagnosis just by knowing the symptoms, it is necessary to go deeper by carrying out certain physical and laboratory tests, to know if it is distemper or other diseases suffered. by the dog, because there have been cases where the result is negative.

The doctor will provide the necessary medical attention and will take the history to be able to evaluate symptoms, vaccination card, the evolution of the dog in the weeks that the symptoms appear. distemper symptoms. Laboratory tests in general to diagnose distemper in dogs are complete hematology, PCR (C-reactive protein test) and serology.

distemper treatments

 This  infection is treated by a doctor veterinarian. Antibiotics will be needed to protect the infestation of bacteria produced by the virus in the background. The procedure includes a treatment of serums by by  intravenous for prevent dehydration, as well as medication to prevent vomiting, Diarrhea, anticonvulsants and sedatives for regular seizures and pain caused by distemper disease.

La urgencia What to have when seeking immediate medical assistance will be conclusive in the results of procedure doctor, to same that malignancy full strain infected by the virus, it is also important if the dog is an adult or not, if it was correctly controlled in its vaccinations and also the speed of response that the dog has in the presence of the disease after being applied the treatment for canine distemper.

Another important treatment is to control neurological attacks, such as seizures and involuntary movements that, as mentioned, continue to occur after recovery from the virus, but are milder.

Early diagnosis of the disease is important and more so in the most serious cases to start medical treatment on time, in order to have good results. If the case warrants it, the veterinarian will request that the dog be hospitalized in a veterinary medical center in order to have better control in the application of medicines by vein at the corresponding times.

In the case where the dog already has severe symptoms and the virus has already affected the neurological system very strongly and advanced, one must be aware that the future diagnosis for that dog is unfortunate since it can cause death, and in other cases they recover. , but these neurological problems persist. In summary, the medical procedure and the application of medicines in this disease for the dog is not one hundred percent effective, everything will depend on the reaction of the dog and his immune system.

distemper in dogs

How to care for a dog with distemper?

 Distemper in dogs, as we have already seen, has different symptoms, there are different types and levels of the disease, care is also very different between each dog since we have to take into account their immune system, the dog's general health, age, which symptoms are present and if they have an underlying disease where all this requires more care than normal.

When taking the dog to the veterinary doctor where he is diagnosed with distemper, he will give him a series of pre-registrations to comply with a treatment, which must be strictly followed at the indicated time, it is very important to respect it with the recommended dose and the hours established by the doctor , for the application of antibiotics, anticonvulsants, analgesics, antipyretics, all this for the symptoms of pain, diarrhea, seizures, vomiting and all the symptoms in general that occur with the virus.

The dog must feel comfortable, we must offer it a comfortable stay while it recovers, the bed must be warm, avoiding drafts and humidity completely.

When the dog presents vomiting and diarrhea, disposable towels will be placed so that we can maintain a hygienic environment in the space where it sleeps, we should not take it outside for a walk to avoid complications and that it can infect another animal, always remembering that the virus is in the air in the form of drops and of course can infect others.

It is important that we follow the recovery of the dog, you should always be aware of any symptoms that occur to know if it worsens or not, take the dog's temperature twice a day, observe the color of the feces and urine , it is advisable to write down all this information so that when the dog is taken to the doctor again we can report its progress or complication as the case may be.

The dog must be hydrated and more when it has the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea which is when it dehydrates very quickly for this we will motivate it to drink water by itself we will prepare chicken or fish soups without salt and without any type of dressing, We can also offer you wet food such as any canned tuna food or any other food that we can get in the poultry farms, everything will depend on the medical indications given by the veterinarian.

It is essential to keep the infected dog isolated to avoid contamination on a larger scale of the virus, which is why it is recommended not to take it out for a walk so as not to infect another dog. In the event that there is another pet inside the house, we must completely isolate the infected dog to prevent the healthy animal from becoming infected. All this isolation will be necessary for the speedy recovery of the dog and contagion to other animals.

How long does distemper last?

The diagnosis for distemper in dogs is very difficult and it is not possible to say how long the recovery takes for the dog because all this will be determined by its immune system, the general health of the dog, the vaccination control, all the care that is the dog has, the age, because we have to keep in mind that distemper disease is fatal, many do not survive the disease, we must always observe any symptoms that appear in the dog and take it to the veterinarian in time to be able to have results rewarding.

How to prevent distemper in dogs

It is difficult to prevent the disease, since, as has been mentioned, the virus is presented in particles that are in the air and we do not know if a dog is infected, the only possible prevention is the very strict control of its vaccinations and the continuity of consultations. veterinarians in order to have a better control in terms of such a contagious disease, it is very important to vaccinate the puppies since they are the most likely to get the virus.

The vaccination control is started from when they are one and a half to two months old, a first dose is given and its reinforcements that the doctor will indicate, when the dog is an adult the vaccine reinforcement is one every year.

It should be noted that the vaccines must be used one every year, it is what will protect the dog from any other disease such as hepatitis, parainfluenza and Parvovirus Canine, diseases that are fatal to the dog. Tests have shown that the effectiveness of the vaccines is 3 years.

If the dog is in a state of depression, stress or has low white blood cells, which are responsible for keeping their immune system active, they are more likely to contract the virus, as well as any other type of disease they may acquire.

The canine distemper vaccine

The start of vaccination against distemper should begin after weaning and before taking the dog with its new owner and having contact with other dogs. Normally this trivalent vaccine (distemper, measles, parainfluenza) is applied when the puppy is between one and a half to three months old.

The importance of administer equally a vacuna against measles is that there is a porcentaje of puppies that do not respond satisfactorily to vacuna of distemper, owed to assistance of antibodies from the mother that neutralize the distemper antigen. As the virus of measles is similar distemper, can submit la interruption of maternal antibodies and promote a partial backup against the distemper

In the theme that maternal antibodies have dissipated ya in the dog six weeks, the vacuna of distemper will provide you with a puddening Absoluta. It is recommended that the parvovirus vaccine be applied to the puppy after eight weeks of life because there have been cases where post-vaccinal encephalitis occurs after the application. It is always important to follow the recommendations and control of the vaccination dates indicated by the veterinarian.

distemper in dogs

Distemper in dogs: home remedies

There is no home remedy that cures the distemper virus one hundred percent, the same as with medical treatment. This does not mean that there are no remedies to relieve the pain or any other symptom that the dog presents during the disease. Some of these homemade formulas are:

  • Administer the dog water by means of an injector, if it is the case that he does not want to drink it by himself.
  • Compresses or cold cloths gently rubbing the belly, if it has high temperatures.
  • Give him soups without salt or warm water, offer him a variety of food to eat since it is important to keep him nourished. If vomiting occurs, stop feeding for a few hours and then start with a liquid diet and then a soft diet every four hours.

Can dog distemper be transmitted to people?

Canine distemper or distemper is closely related to the measles virus, which is a virus that they give to humans, however, the distemper virus is not transmitted from animals to humans, so we can be calm when it comes to take care of them during the illness since there is no possibility of contagion. So the best thing that can be done for the dog is to go to the vet as soon as possible to be able to attack the virus without serious consequences.

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