Canine Distemper FAQ's
my dog has CDV, what will it look like?
There is great variability in
clinical signs but fever is common with moist nasal and ocular
discharge. As well, the dog will be anorexic (eating less) and
will appear depressed. There may be respiratory problems and/or
diarrhea or vomiting as well. If your dog has any of these signs,
consult your veterinarian (6).
Is there any way to predict whether a
dog with distemper will progress to have neurological signs?
Not accurately. Early in infection, the skin
is found to have lesions. Involvement of the nose and foot pads
tends to conincide with the
development of neurologic distemper. About half of the
dogs that recover from the mucosal stage will progress to
nervous clinical distemper. Middle aged dogs seem less likely to
develop nervous distemper as they are more likely to mount and
effective immune response (6).
distemper virus zoonotic?
Yes. Humans can be infected
CDV, meaning the virus can reproduce in human tissues, but the virus
causes no disease in humans (6).
young dog has badly stained and pitted teeth. Could this be due to
having CDV as a puppy and how would it cause this?
distemper virus infects epithelial cells, the cells that
with the environment. Because the teeth grow from the epithelium of
tooth buds in young puppies, this epithelium can be damaged leading to
tooth pathology. Teeth can grow to appear with
stained and pitted enamel where the hard enamel layer was not properly
deposited onto the tooth. This is termed 'enamel hypoplasia (6).
last dog died from distemper. How should we disinfect our home
before getting another dog?
Disinfection is not necessary as the CDV
survives poorly outside the host (6).
My dog seems to have recovered
from Distemper. For how long is it contagious?
Dogs may shed virus for up to 2-3 months post
recovery. It is advised to keep your dog away from other dogs during
this time to avoid the spread of CDV. While maximal shedding is
at about two weeks post infection, shedding may go on for long after
What is “Old Dog Encephalitis?”
Old Dog Encephalitis is chronic brain
inflammation that begins in older dogs that had distemper as
puppies. For some reason, neuronal degeneration only occurs once
the dogs are older after apparently clearing the infection. The nervous
signs are like nervous distemper and can can be fatal (6).
Can a dog get
distemper from its
Yes. In a
small proportion of animals, nervous distemper, known as 'vaccinial
distemper' can begin 10-21 days after
administration of a modified live canine distemper vaccine. The
recombinant vaccine cannot cause such a reaction
Can any other
animals get distemper?
Yes. Canine Distemper Virus has been found in a wide variety of
carnivores including Mustelids (Weasel, Ferret, Otter), Procyonids
(Raccoon, Red Panda), and Canids (Fox, Wolf, Domestic Dog). Most
recently the large cats of Africa have been observed to suffer from
CDV. In addition various marine mammals have been found with
infections by other similar morbilliviruses like CDV(6).