Canine Distemper


Canine Distemper

What is Canine distemper?

Canine distemper also known as Carre’s disease or CDV is a highly contagious disease that usually is fatal and affects domestic dogs but can also infect some wild life animals like the wolf, ferret, raccoon and skunk. Canine distemper is caused by a virus, to be more accurate a Morbilivirus belonging to the Paramixovirus family and is characterized by acute fever, gastrointestinal, respiratory and nervous system disorders. The virus was first described in 1905 by French veterinarian Henry Carre and was thought to be related to the plague.

How is it transmitted?

Well….Canine distemper is transmitted through direct contact with infected feces, urine, nasal or ocular secretions and by inhaling respiratory secretions from an infected animal. It can affect all domestic dogs but more frequently it is seen in puppies ranging from 6-8 months and unvaccinated dogs.


The incubation period for the virus is between 3-7 days and the first sign of distemper is eye discharge that can be watery to pus-like and fever

Gastrointestinal and respiratory signs

  • -vomiting and diarrhea
  • -loss of appetite and weight loss
  • -coughing and labored breathing

Neurological signs

  • -seizures
  • -twitches
  • -partial paralysis
  • -incoordination and sensibility to light
  • -jaw movement

Sometimes the virus can cause the foot pads to harden.


The diagnosis will be pretty easily made by your local vet by evaluating the clinical signs, the age of the animal and by tacking into consideration if he was vaccinated or not.Also some laboratory test like Elisa can be made to confirm the presence of the virus.


Unfortunately there is no specific cure. Antibiotics will be used to fight off secondary infections, IV fluid therapy to counter dehydration, steroids in case of severe seizures and different treatments to control diarrhea, vomiting and neurologic symptoms.


Vaccination is the most important step to take in making sure your dog is well protected against must diseses.Puppies will receive the first series of shots at the age of 6-8 weeks and then every four weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

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