Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

What is Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)?

It's a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system organs. Distemper is incurable, often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent; irreparable nervous system damage.

Dogs of any age can contract Canine Distemper Virus, but puppies are the most at risk especially if they're unvaccinated. Dogs who have survived Canine Distemper Virus can be carriers for the disease. It is rare for a vaccinated dog to be infected, but can still happen.

How quickly you respond to potential CDV symptoms also impacts your pet’s chances at survival. Recovery is usually dependent upon the strength of the dog’s immune system and the strain of distemper they have contracted. If recovery is an option it can take up to 2 months to fully recover.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

You may not notice any symptoms for the first 6-9 days. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

    • The fever may come and go before other symptoms appear

  • Disinterest in food

  • Dehydration

  • Tiredness

  • Watery pus-like discharge from eyes and nose

  • Coughing

  • Pneumonia

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Severe tooth enamel damage

    • Teeth will look rough, pitted, and stained yellow

  • Thickening of the paw's pads & nose

  • Encephalomyelitis (Inflammation of the brain & spinal cord)

  • Seizures

  • Paralysis

  • Decline in mental ability

  • Muscle twitching

    • Looks like a "chewing motion" of the jaw

What Spreads Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)?

Dogs are usually infected through airborne exposure of aerosol droplets typically form coughing or sneezing that come from another dog or wildlife animal. The virus can also be transmitted by sharing food, water bowls, direct contact with saliva, breathing air, or items that have its surface already contaminated.

Canine Distemper can't live on surfaces for long so normally the virus is spread through the air. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.

Contact your veterinarian's office as soon as possible before visiting them in person if you suspect your dog has Distemper so they can prevent your dog from infecting others while they're are being seen.

How is Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) Diagnosed?

Veterinarians diagnose Canine Distemper Virus through clinical symptoms and lab testing. There are many strains of Canine Distemper Virus. Because of this the infection may progress at a different speed and severity.

Since there is no cure for Distemper veterinarians will provide supportive care to control the symptoms and attempt to prevent secondary infections. Dogs with Canine Distemper Virus are usually hospitalized. To contain the disease an infected dog will be quarantined during their treatment.

If the veterinarian suspects brain damage then they may perform a CT scan or MRI to determine the severity of the damage.

How can you prevent catching Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)?

Talk to your vet. Vaccinate your puppy at their recommended schedule as this is the best protection for the long term. The DHPP vaccine helps protect your dog from Canine Distemper Virus.

Try to isolate your puppy from the other dogs until they're fully vaccinated.

Avoid taking your puppy to public places before they are fully vaccinated against Canine Distemper Virus.

What Can You Do?

Find a breeder who vaccinates their corgis for diseases like Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and ask what other vaccinations are being done. You must advocate for your future puppy.

To learn more about Canine Distemper Virus go to VCA Hospital's Website

Disclaimer: Anything written on this website should not be considered medical advice. It is purely informative. Please refer to your local veterinarian for any health related concerns.