Canine distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the nervous systems. Contact among recently infected animals maintains the virus in a population, and a constant supply of puppies helps to provide a susceptible population for infection. Although immunity to virulent canine distemper is prolonged or lifelong, it is not as absolute after vaccination. Dogs that do not receive periodic immunizations may lose their protection and become infected after stress, immunosuppression, or contact with diseased animals.16
Merck Animal Health Solutions
For Canine Distemper
Distemper is spread through contact with bodily secretions (eg, nasal discharge), but is most commonly spread through airborne transmission (eg, sneezing and coughing).
- Nasal discharge
Young dogsDogs that come from shelters, rescue centers, breeding kennels, or pet storesBoarding at a kennel or doggie daycareVisiting groomers, dog parks, or engaging with other dogs on a daily basisDogs that live in multi-pet homes
16. Green C, Appel M. Canine distemper. In: Greene CE, ed. Infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier; 2006:27.