dog-91765_1280Puppies and Distemper

Did you know that 80 percent of puppies that contract distemper will die from it?  Shocking and sad but, true. In fact, distemper is a very common and highly contagious illness among the puppy population.  Puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs are at the highest risk of contracting distemper.

How is Distemper transmitted?

Distemper is a very common disease because it is spread so easily.  Distemper is spread through the air so if your puppy is in close proximity of another puppy that has the virus, then there’s a good chance that your puppy will also contract the virus.  It can also be contracted via toys, bowls and basically any surface that your dog comes in contact with.

How do I know if my dog has contracted the distemper virus?  What are the symptoms?

Distemper rears its ugly head in stages. Initially, your puppy will show no signs.  Then, after the six to nine day incubation period, your puppy will come down with a fever and be sleepy, showing little energy to be up and about.  Symptoms will seem to subside bringing your puppy back to normal – or so it seems.  Then additional symptoms may appear.  Fever, coughing, lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nasal discharge are all very typical symptoms of the distemper virus.  After these initial symptoms appear, things get worse for your puppy.  Mucus and discharge from the puppy’s nose, eye inflammation (aka pink eye) and an even worse case of diarrhea may become present in your puppy.  For two weeks, symptoms will fluctuate.  During this time, some puppies will simply get over the disease while others aren’t so fortunate.  Distemper virus will then cause serious neurological problems.  Unfortunately there is no known treatment for the distemper virus.  As far as conventional medicine goes, the only thing your vet can do is provide antibiotics for any secondary infections and administer IV fluids to treat dehydration.


As you can see, Distemper is a serious and potentially fatal virus.  Any and all precautions should be made to keep unvaccinated puppies away from other animals, domesticated or wild, until the puppy is completely vaccinated.  Neglecting to vaccinate your puppy or adult dog could place him at serious risk of contracting the distemper virus.