Canine Distemper FAQ's

7. sheppard 8. cdv dog      9. paw                  

If 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).

Is canine distemper virus zoonotic?
Yes.  Humans can be infected with CDV, meaning the virus can reproduce in human tissues, but the virus causes no disease in humans (6).

My young dog has badly stained and pitted teeth. Could this be due to having CDV as a puppy and how would it cause this?
The distemper virus infects epithelial cells, the cells that  interface 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).

Our 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 recovery (6)

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 vaccine?
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 (6).

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).