Canine distemper is a contagious viral illness that affects dogs and other species of wildlife, including wolves, foxes and ferrets. This virus is related to the measles virus which affects humans. Young puppies and unvaccinated older dogs tend to be more susceptible to canine distemper. Learn more about the symptoms below.


What Causes Canine Distemper?

Dogs become more susceptible to this illness through bacterial infections in their respiratory tract and gastrointestinal systems. When a dog isn’t vaccinated, they are at an extremely high risk of contracting the virus if they come into contact with an infected animal.

The virus also spreads through the air and through indirect contact, such as bedding and toys. It initially attacks a canine’s tonsils and lymph nodes before moving into the airways, attacking the gastrointestinal, urogenital and nervous systems.


The Symptoms of Canine Distemper

Depending on the stage of the illness, you may notice:

  • Fever
  • Reddened eyes
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Fits, seizures, hysteria and paralysis (in severe cases)
  • Thickened pads on a dog’s feet


Vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs can be symptoms of many illnesses, ranging from minor to severe. It’s important that you call your vet as soon as you notice something is wrong.


Prevention and Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for canine distemper; however, you can work with your veterinary specialist to manage and alleviate the symptoms with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. When the disease moves into a later stage, it is necessary to monitor your dog for pneumonia and dehydration.

An animal’s survival depends on the strength of their immune system, and a complete recovery is possible. Fully recovered dogs are no longer carriers of the virus.

Prevention through vaccinations is highly effective. It is crucial that you stay up to date with your dog vaccination schedule and ensure your dog receives all of the puppy vaccinations that are recommended. Puppies should be constantly protected from exposure as they are at the highest risk of canine distemper.


Make an Appointment with Kedron Veterinary Clinic

If your canine begins to display any of the above symptoms, get in touch immediately. Call (07) 3857 1785 or contact us online for more information.