Canine Distemper Virus (Distemper)

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a highly contagious and very dangerous virus that is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in the United States. This fast-spreading virus can be transmitted by, and infect, more than just dogs. Wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and even pet ferrets are known to suffer with and carry CDV, leaving some to think the name should be Carnivore Distemper Virus.

This virus is similar to the measles virus in humans and the rinderpest virus which affects cattle. In dogs, the virus affects the respiratory system, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems, and even the conjunctival membranes of the eyes.

Puppies and young dogs who are not yet vaccinated are the most susceptible to this contagious illness, for which there is no known cure. If treatment and/or medical support is not administered quickly enough, the virus can prove to be fatal. Those dogs who survive the harsher effects of the virus commonly live with lasting brain and nerve damage or suffer from seizures and other neurological disorders.

What Causes Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper Virus is caused by a paramyxovirus, which is the same family of virus responsible for the human measles virus. CDV spreads just like any other virus, human or otherwise – through the air and on contaminated objects or surfaces.

Tiny droplets from an infected dog or animal’s sneeze/cough carries the virus through the air where another host will inhale or ingest it and carry on the cycle of infection and transmission.

What Causes Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper Virus is caused by a paramyxovirus, which is the same family of virus responsible for the human measles virus. CDV spreads just like any other virus, human or otherwise – through the air and on contaminated objects or surfaces.

Tiny droplets from an infected dog or animal’s sneeze/cough carries the virus through the air where another host will inhale or ingest it and carry on the cycle of infection and transmission.

What Causes Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper Virus is caused by a paramyxovirus, which is the same family of virus responsible for the human measles virus. CDV spreads just like any other virus, human or otherwise – through the air and on contaminated objects or surfaces.

Tiny droplets from an infected dog or animal’s sneeze/cough carries the virus through the air where another host will inhale or ingest it and carry on the cycle of infection and transmission.

How is Canine Distemper Transmitted?

Part of the inherent danger of Canine Distemper Virus is the speed and ease at which it can spread. CDV is transmitted in a few ways:

1. Airborne transmission. Canine Distemper is primarily spread through the air when an infected dog or other animal coughs or sneezes, releasing virus-carrying droplets in to the air. The virus can survive for hours on tiny dust particles and dander, traveling from host to host. Once ingested or inhaled, the virus begins to wreak havoc within the upper respiratory tract and then continue, if untreated, to the gastrointestinal and nervous systems.

2. Sharing of contaminated objects. Water and food bowls as well as toys, blankets, and bedding can spread the virus from dog to dog. Just like children sharing toys and communal areas at school, dogs pick up the virus from other surfaces and items that infected dogs or animals have touched or used.

3. Direct contact with infected dogs or other animals. If a dog ingests or inhales the infected saliva, mucus, urine, or blood of an infected dog or animal, such as a raccoon or skunk, the virus can, and probably will, take hold. Boarding facilities, daycares, dog parks, urban neighborhoods, and other areas where numerous animals are kept or frequent are at risk for contamination and spreading of the CDV.

4. Mother to offspring. Pregnant mothers are able to spread the virus to their unborn puppies through the placenta, therefore mothers should always be vaccinated before conception and up-to-date on all other vaccines.

Distemper can continue to be shed by an infected animal for several weeks after inception. Dogs suspected of having CDV should be isolated until completely recovered.

What Are Canine Distemper Symptoms?

Symptoms begin to manifest as red and watery eyes, drainage from the nose, and a high fever.

Dogs will often then become lethargic, depressed, lose their appetite, and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, as well as coughing and sneezing.

Prompt veterinarian intervention is required, as CDV can be fatal, if left untreated. Even those dogs who survive the more severe symptoms, lasting neurological issues can occur later in life, such as seizures, tremors, or nerve damage.

How Long Does Canine Distemper Last?

Total recovery time depends on the severity of the infection as well as the age and overall health of the infected dog. Very young puppies and elderly dogs with weakened immune systems have the hardest time with this virus and are the most at risk.

How is Canine Distemper Treated?

There is no cure for CDV. Because Canine Distemper is a virus, antibiotics are ineffective. Antibiotics will help prevent and/or treat any secondary infections (such as pneumonia, which is common), but cannot eliminate or shorten the length of the virus. Therefore, treatment options consist mainly of supportive care. A vet visit is required as soon as symptoms start to show for proper diagnosis and testing. IV fluids may be given to prevent dehydration and antibiotics to help support the immune system.

Recovering from CDV is aided with plenty of rest and fresh water along with a bland diet and regular cleaning of the eyes and nose. Closely monitor the body temperature and overall progression of symptoms.

How Can You Prevent Canine Distemper in Dogs?

The best prevention method for Canine Distemper Virus is proper vaccination. Pet care facilities should require proof of vaccination for this and other infectious diseases or illnesses. Pet parents, check with your vet for vaccination records. Also, ask the pet care facility of your choosing which vaccinations are required and what, if any, air sanitation practices are used to help stop or control the spread of CDV and other illnesses.

take the next steps to protect your business from Canine Distemper

Learn all about UVGI
Customer testimonials
FAQs
View our products
Request a free consultation