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Dog's Distemper Virus: A Complete Guidelines for Pet Owners

As a trusted vet care facility, our goal is to empower you with essential insights about canine distemper. In this article, we'll unravel the intricacies of this concerning condition, shedding light on its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment. By understanding and addressing canine distemper together, we ensure the long-lasting health and happiness of your beloved four-legged companions.

Transmission and Understanding:

The distemper virus is highly contagious and spreads through contact with respiratory secretions and bodily fluids from infected animals. This can happen through direct contact with an infected dog, sharing food and water bowls, or exposure to contaminated environments. The virus enters the body through the respiratory tract and then spreads to the lymphoid tissues, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen, from where it can disseminate throughout the body, affecting multiple systems.


The symptoms of canine distemper can vary depending on the stage of the disease and the severity of the infection. The virus can affect various body systems, leading to a wide range of clinical signs.

Common symptoms include:

  • high fever

  • runny nose and eyes

  • coughing and sneezing

  • loss of appetite

  • vomiting and diarrhea

  • pustules on the abdomen (a late-stage symptom)

  • hardening of the foot pads

  • neurological signs, such as twitching, seizures, and paralysis (in severe cases)

The severity of symptoms can vary, and in severe cases, distemper can be fatal.


To confirm the diagnosis of canine distemper, the vet may recommended various laboratory tests. Swabs from the nose, throat, or eyes might be collected for viral detection using Distemper Rapid Test Kit or molecular techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Both of these tests are provided in Island Vet Bali.


There is no specific cure for canine distemper, but it doesn't mean that there is nothing that we can do to help our distemper patient. Treatment mainly focuses on supportive care to manage symptoms and boost the dog's immune system. If mild respiratory distress occurs, the dogs may be treated as outpatients with supportive care (ie, nebulization, antibiotics for secondary infections, mucolytics, cough suppressants). Treatment may include:

  1. Fluid therapy to prevent dehydration and maintain electrolyte balance.

  2. Antibiotics to manage secondary bacterial infections that can arise due to a weakened immune system.

  3. Anticonvulsants to control seizures, if present.

  4. Medication to alleviate respiratory symptoms and reduce fever.

  5. Nutritional support to maintain the dog's strength and aid in recovery.

If neurologic disturbances are present (eg, tetraplegia, semicoma, seizure), euthanasia should be considered as a kind option for them.


Preventing canine distemper is crucial, and the most effective method is through vaccination. Puppies should receive their first distemper vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age, followed by booster shots at regular intervals until they are fully immunized. Adult dogs also require periodic booster shots to maintain immunity.

Other preventive measures include:

  1. Avoiding contact with infected animals.

  2. Isolating sick dogs from healthy ones to prevent transmission.

  3. Infected dog will remain shedding the virus up to 4 months post recovery, greatest numbers in respiratory secretions such as ocular (eye) and nasal discharge as well as droplets spread by coughing.

  4. Disinfecting the environment to eliminate the virus in contaminated areas.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to canine distemper, so ensuring your dog's vaccination status and taking necessary precautions can help protect them from this serious and potentially fatal disease.

It is essential to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect your dog has distemper. Early intervention and supportive care can improve the chances of survival.

Our expert veterinarians are available everyday from 9 AM to 9 PM. Contact us by Whatsapp +62813-911-911-29 to book your pet's appointment.

Source: World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA): Canine Distemper Virus. 2014. Somporn Techangamsuwan, Melissa A. Kennedy. Website :

Canine Distemper Virus . 2008. Vito Martella, DVM, Gabrielle Elia, DVM, Canio Buonavoglia. et Clin Small Anim 38 (2008) 787–797.


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