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Canine Distemper Symptoms & Prevention

Canine distemper is a highly contagious virus that affects many dogs worldwide. While the most susceptible are young puppies it can affect dogs of all ages, although it tends to be less severe as they grow older. This virus is spread via contact with other infected animals as it cannot survive without a host. Canine distemper is often deadly and it is important to make sure you take the necessary steps to keep your dog safe.

Stage One Symptoms

During the first stage of canine distemper the virus will focus on attacking the mucus membranes within your dog. For this reason the first stage is also known as the mucosal stage. There are many symptoms of this stage including:

  • Fever
  • Discharge from eyes and nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Depression
  • Blisters on abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Stage Two Symptoms

After the first stage of canine distemper has passed there is usually a brief pause (one to three weeks) before the second stage will begin. This second stage is known as the neurological stage as the virus has now moved out of the mucus membranes and into the central nervous system. Symptoms of stage two distemper are:

  • Calloused pads
  • Weakness
  • Slobbering
  • Seizures or muscles tremors
  • Excess drooling
  • Confusion
  • Loss of vision
  • Chewing and snapping of jaw


In most cases canine distemper can be easily avoidable with the use of vaccines. Make sure your puppies receive the full dose of their vaccines and don’t stop after the first round of shots. Without the full dose they will not be properly vaccinated and are still at risk for many preventable diseases. Also, as your dog grows up, continue to make sure he gets his annual shots to help prevent illness and keep him strong and healthy. If you have multiple dogs be sure to isolate the infected party to decrease the risk of the virus spreading.

Whenever you bring home a new dog make sure you have them checked out by a vet first, especially if you have other animals at home. This way the vet can make sure your new friend is healthy and won’t spread any unwanted illness to your other pets. They can also make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccines so you won’t have to worry about him catching something from the other dogs in your neighborhood.

The Author

Chris Onyett is an experienced marketer and designer who is passionate about dogs. He created the Dog Help Network after an experience with his own dog, Kupo. He learned that doing proper research and learning from others’ experiences can be just as important as taking a veterinarian’s advice. Connect with Chris on Google+.

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