Share cute pictures of your pet dog.

Symptoms of Distemper in Dogs

Symptoms of Distemper in Dogs

Distemper in dogs is one of the most dreaded conditions even today. Let us see what the symptoms of distemper in dogs and how the condition comes to be.
Rujuta Borkar
Last Updated: Feb 23, 2018
Distemper in dogs is considered to be one of the most dangerous conditions that can affect a dog. It generally develops in the first year of birth, a little before a puppy reaches maturity. The condition can also make way after the cutting of the dog's permanent teeth. This condition is often considered quite similar to the condition of measles in man. Both these diseases are infectious and are transmitted to others through similar channels. So also, if one overcomes this condition, it usually provides immunity from another attack of the same. In this article we will look through the varied symptoms that distemper in dogs can bring about. Continue reading for more information.


For years it was believed that only unhygienic conditions-like a poorly kept kennel, an underfed dog, a damp and cold area, or other similar conditions led to canine distemper. But, that is not the case. There are several other conditions that can lead to the spread of distemper in dogs. These conditions, however, can lead to the lowering of immunity in the dog, as well as minimize its resistance powers.

Symptoms of distemper in dogs come about because of the canine distemper virus (CDV). This virus is not only contagious but is also a multi-systemic viral condition. It is usually incurable (though it can be prevented by vaccines), can affect the central nervous system, the urogenital, respiratory, and/or the gastrointestinal system. It is often fatal. Thus, the seriousness of the condition can be understood.

There are several symptoms that can make way when there is distemper in dogs. Since this illness is contagious, an infected dog can easily pass the disease on to a healthy dog. The most common medium for the transfer of this virus is through the air. Inhalation of the virus is taken to be the primary cause of the transfer of the virus, followed by indirect transmission through any surface material-like the clothes of a person, a dog dish, the walls of a kennel, or any other surface. The virus can be transferred onto other healthy dogs in this way and infect them. Indirect transmission is not as common because the virus cannot survive in the environment for long.

Another factor that has to be considered is that distemper also affects wild animals and, therefore, any contact with an infected animal could also lead to distemper in dogs.

It has been seen that Distemper in dogs is most common in puppies who are housed in closed proximity-like shelters, animal shows, or pet shops. Let us now see what some of these symptoms are.


Now that we know what causes distemper and how it is spread, let us learn a little something more about these canine distemper symptoms.

Initial Symptoms
The first set of symptoms that will make way will include inflammation of the eyes, fever, and loss of appetite. The fever starts at a temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and then progresses to a 106 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 3 - 6 days. Along with the fever, the dog may also suffer from a severe loss of appetite that can lead to anorexia. This condition is also accompanied by discharge from the eyes and nose and depression symptoms. All of this can severely affect the dog's immunity.

Respiratory Symptoms
The disease will then spread throughout the dog's body. It will affect his respiratory system and cause the following symptoms.
  • Severe sneezing
  • Dry and husky coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal passage getting affected, leading to catarrhal discharge
  • Development of pneumonia
Gastrointestinal Symptoms
The gastrointestinal symptoms will include some of the following symptoms:
  • Digestion will be severely affected
  • Influx of diarrhea
  • A loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
Neurological Symptoms
The disease then enters the next phase and affects the brain of the dog. This leads to the following symptoms:
  • Suffering from seizures is the first sign of the nervous system being affected
  • Tremors in the jaws
  • Convulsions of the body
  • Imbalance
  • Limb weakness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Paralysis (partial or complete)
  • Mental abilities begin to deteriorate
  • Increased sensitivity to touch and pain (hyperesthesia)
  • Disorientation
  • Aggression
  • Hyperkeratosis (the skin of the footpads will thicken)
  • There might also be a thickening of the skin over the nose.
  • There are high chances that there might be a defect in the teeth enamel in puppies, especially if the disease affects them while the teeth are still forming.
  • Eye complications could make way, which might affect the optic nerve and cause blindness in the dog.
  • The dog will avoid the light and seek solitude instead.
These symptoms will help one to know if one's dog's health is affected. Though distemper in most affected dogs proves to be fatal, there are now specialized vaccines that can be taken for the distemper treatment and help in preventing the onset of distemper in dogs.