The Mystery of Distemper

While the world is waking from a global pandemic, there is one thing that many animal hospitals have noticed, people are getting puppies! Having your pet properly vaccinated is a major aspect in new puppy care. Just like human babies, puppies get a series of vaccines and will visit the doctor multiple times in that first year. One vaccine that families will learn about in particular is the distemper vaccine. Let’s take a peek at the what and when of the canine distemper vaccine and how prevention is a key component in keeping our pets safe.

What actually is distemper??

Distemper is an extremely contagious virus that can be found anywhere in the world. The virus can be transmitted to many mammals, most commonly dogs, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Distemper displays a large range of symptoms. Many times people often mistake the virus for other diseases. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

There are times that severe cases can cause neurological issues, due to swelling of the brain. This may cause a reaction of the animal looking dizzy or having loss of balance.

How is distemper transmitted??

Medical and Preventative Health

Distemper is transmitted through any bodily secretions, such as urine or saliva. Most commonly animals spread the virus through coughing. Dogs can also get distemper from the mothers placenta, airborne exposure, or an object that has infected secretions on it.

What is the best way to protect our dogs?

We vaccinate! The canine distemper vaccine is the first vaccine series puppies will receive in it’s young life. It is also a vaccine that will be commonly administered to your pet throughout its lifetime. Considering the most vulnerable pets are those who have weakened immune systems, such as older dogs and puppies, it is important that all dogs are vaccinated.

When is the best time to vaccinate?

South Town Animal Hospital begins to vaccinate at 8 weeks. Then proceeds to vaccinate at 12 and 16 weeks. This is due to the fact that the mothers protective antibodies drop at 8 weeks then the vaccines boost the immunity each month until 16 weeks when the pup has had enough protection against the disease. Your pet is then vaccinated periodically throughout its adult life to ensure boosted immunity to the virus.

You can be reassured that we use the best, high quality vaccines. Our doctors are highly trained in recognizing and treating this virus. If you have any questions or concerns about distemper, please don’t hesitate to contact the office at 847-695-7387 or email us at

South Town Animal Hospital is a place where we strive to achieve healthier and happier lives for the furry ones we love. We are here is you need us.

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Dr Denise Crittenden

Dr Deborah Groth

Dr Sheri Cody

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