Dogs are considered humanity’s best friends for many reasons. They’re unconditionally loving and loyal, and they’re easy to love back. And one of the best ways to love your pet back is by keeping her safe.

When canine distemper spreads throughout a community, it can be devastating to dogs. This destructive virus is as highly contagious among dogs but can have serious or even deadly consequences. That’s why it’s important as a pet owner to take steps to protect your pet before canine distemper strikes.  

In this post from Normandale Veterinary Hospital, we’re covering everything you need to know about canine distemper including how to keep your dog safe and healthy. To schedule your pet’s vaccinations, give our veterinarians a call.

Canine Distemper Basics

The virus known commonly as canine distemper or footpad disease can travel through a community the same way a virus like flu or measles can in humans. And although it’s called canine distemper, it affects many more species of mammals. These are just a few of the animals that can be affected by canine distemper:

●        Wild dogs

●        Foxes

●        Coyotes

●        Raccoons

●        Skunks

●        Ferrets

●        Pandas

●        Cats

Like many viruses that affect humans, symptoms can vary from one animal to the next. Although some dogs may only show mild respiratory features that look like kennel cough, the virus can affect a dog’s digestive and nervous systems as well.

Here is a complete list of canine distemper symptoms that can occur:

●        Excessive salivation

●        Runny nose

●        Vomiting

●        Pneumonia

●        Dehydration

●        Labored breathing

●        Appetite loss

●        Bloody diarrhea

●        Weight loss

●        Incontinence

●        Seizures

●        Sensitivity to touch

●        Light sensitivity

●        Lack of coordination

●        Impaired motor function

●        Jaw muscle twitching

●        Circling

●        Paralysis

●        Blindness

It’s important to note that some of the neurological symptoms can occur weeks or even months after a dog initially becomes infected. But make no mistake about it: canine distemper is a potentially deadly condition.

Protecting Your Pet

The first thing step to protecting your pet is getting her vaccinated and spayed. The vaccination reduces her chance of a serious infection if exposed, and getting your pet spayed or neutered reduces the dog’s chance of contracting a virus from another animal. Some other types of pets like ferrets also require vaccination against canine distemper. And once your pet is vaccinated, be sure to keep up with her vaccination schedule in the future.

Additionally, limit the chance your dog could come into contact with wildlife or unvaccinated dogs. If you take her to the park, keep her on a leash and close to you. And never let your dog run loose outside of your home.


To get your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date, call Normandale Veterinary Hospital at 952-831-8272 or make an appointment online. Your pet’s health is our top priority!