White Angel Animal Hospital

               Providing the pets of Lakeway and the greater Lake Travis area with tender, loving health care


Canine Distemper


Canine Distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal disease in dogs. White Angel Animal Hospital PLLC offers experimental treatments for dogs in both stages of distemper.

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms of Canine Distemper include coughing, lethargy, eye and nasal discharge, weight loss, and/or GI signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia or decreased appetite. Affected animals usually experience two fever spikes and often develop pneumonia.

Neurological Phase

If the animal recovers from the pneumonia, he/she may then develop neurologic signs such as a constant twitching of several parts of the body (myoclonus), seizures, or weakness of the front or hind limbs. Once a pet develops neurologic signs, the prognosis is grave and the vast majority of these pets do not survive. On rare occasions, a pet may develop the neurologic signs many years after the onset of the disease- this is termed “Old Dog Encephalitis”. Other clinical signs which may appear at the time of infection or at a later date include “hard nose and pads” (crusty scaling, sometimes cracking of nose and pads) and enamel hypoplasia (a loss of enamel which occurs in diseases that cause a high fever at an early age- this results in a yellow discoloration and uneven texture of the teeth).

FAQ's About Canine Distemper

What is Canine Distemper?
Canine Distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal disease in dogs. Foxes, coyotes, raccoons, ferrets, and wild canids can also be affected.

What are the Symptoms of Canine Distemper?

Early symptoms of Canine Distemper include coughing, lethargy, eye and nasal discharge, weight loss, and/or GI signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia or decreased appetite. Affected animals usually experience two fever spikes and often develop pneumonia. If the animal recovers from the pneumonia, he/she may then develop neurologic signs such as a constant twitching of several parts of the body (myoclonus), seizures, or weakness of the front or hind limbs. Once a pet develops neurologic signs, the prognosis is grave and the vast majority of these pets do not survive. On rare occasions, a pet may develop the neurologic signs many years after the onset of the disease- this is termed “Old Dog Encephalitis”. Other clinical signs which may appear at the time of infection or at a later date include “hard nose and pads” (crusty scaling, sometimes cracking of nose and pads) and enamel hypoplasia (a loss of enamel which occurs in diseases that cause a high fever at an early age- this results in a yellow discoloration and uneven texture of the teeth).

How is Canine Distemper Transmitted?

Canine Distemper is transmitted via mucous membrane secretions, so is transmitted in the same way that the flu is transmitted in people (coughing in close proximity to others, direct contact with mucous membrane secretions such as saliva or eye/nasal discharge). The virus needs to stay in contact with moist mucous membranes in order to survive, and therefore does not survive well outside the host. A 1:10 bleach solution is recommended to clean surfaces that an affected animal has come in contact with, along with a disinfectant spray for the air. It is also a good idea to keep other unaffected animals, especially young or unvaccinated animals, away from the area for at least 24 hours.

How Can Canine Distemper be Prevented?

There is a very effective vaccine available to help prevent Canine Distemper. Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3 weeks until they are 14-16 weeks old. The timing of the boosters is extremely important to assure optimal response to the vaccinations. Additionally, puppies should be kept away from public areas or areas frequented by other dogs until 2 weeks after their second booster is given. Socialization of puppies is extremely important during this time period, so the risks of exposure to other dogs must be weighed against the benefit of socialization. Puppies should also be socialized to other people and animals.

How we can help

We are currently in the process of evaluating an alternative new treatment for Canine Distemper. If your dog has been diagnosed with or is suspected of having Canine Distemper,  please click here for more information on the protocol and success stories so far.

Please call us at (512) 266-7838 with any questions or to schedule a consultation.

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