Canine Distemper

posted: by: Taos Veterinary Clinic, P.C. Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Distemper is a virus that starts in the respiratory system. Initial symptoms include:
  • Gooey eye and nose discharge
  • Fever, which often comes and goes unnoticed
  • Poor appetite
  • Coughing and development of pneumonia
The virus then continues on to the GI system (Gastro-intestinal) and symptoms include:
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Callusing of nose & foot pads (where the disease gets it's name: "Hard Pad Disease")
The virus then continues on to the nervous system, causing neurological symptoms:
  • Seizures, classically starting with snapping or tremors of the jaws that progress to convulsions of the whole body. This distemper classic sign is called a chewing gum fit.
  • Seizures are not the only distemper sign by any means. Tremors, imbalance, and limb weakness all may occur. Signs may progress to death or may become non-progressive and permanent. Recovery is also possible.
Distemper is highly contagious. Transmission is airborne by particulate via coughing, and is also transmitted by bodily secretions like urine. If you suspect your dog has distemper, call the clinic prior to arrival and do not come in to the clinic until we ensure that there are no other dogs in the waiting room.

Like Parvo, Distemper does not have a cure and supportive care is the current accepted treatment. Distemper is all about the immune system and severity will vary from dog-to-dog depending upon the dog's immune system.

For a more in-depth discussion of this disease, please visit