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Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is a viral disease which is highly contagious. The disease affects dogs and other wildlife mainly in the canine family. Canine distemper affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper

Many dogs experience gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms, such as:

  • Conjunctivitis (discharge from the eye)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever (usually present but unnoticed)
  • Pneumonia (a cough, labored breathing)
  • Rhinitis (a runny nose)
  • Vomiting


Canine Distemper is strongly suspected in an unvaccinated puppy showing a combination of the above symptoms. Canine distemper is diagnosed with biochemical tests and urine analysis, which may also reveal a reduced number of lymphocytes, the white blood cells that function in the immune system in the initial stages of the disease (lymphopenia).

Treatment of Distemper

Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine distemper. Treatment for the disease, therefore, is heavily focused on alleviating the symptoms.


Make sure your dog has completed his series of vaccinations. The vaccine for dogs is called the distemper shot. If you have a puppy, make sure he gets his first vaccination at six to eight weeks of age. Be sure to keep him away from any possibly infectious dogs or environments until he’s finished with his vaccinations at four or five months old.

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