Distemper in Dogs – 10 Signs to Watch Out

The first signs and symptoms of canine or dog distemper into your dog’s pet include coughing, sneezing, and eyes and nose discharge. Lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and depression is also common signs and symptoms of this canine virus. 

Your dog can get Canine Distemper when the virus is usually passed from one dog to another via direct contact with saliva or blood. Sneezing, coughing, and also sharing water and food bowls are some of the potential ways for this canine virus to be passed on.

Canine distemper tests are now available. However, the results are not accurate and reliable. Instead of testing it for the infection, the veterinarian needs to look at all angles. He will need to check for specific signs and symptoms and consider your pet’s health history. Positive results can help confirm an infection, but your dog pet can still be infected even if test results are negative.

Canine distemper has different symptoms in different body systems, including the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, spinal cord, and brain. The course of this canine virus and the appearance of symptoms vary. It ranges from mild signs and symptoms to fatal diseases. 

Neurological symptoms of distemper may not develop at all or develop later in the disease, sometimes even after several days and weeks. These symptoms of distemper may include Weakness and paralysis, Muscle twitching, Seizures of any part of the dog’s body, but seizures that look as if the dog is chewing gum are unique to distemper, uncoordinated movements and Increased sensitivity to touch or having pain. 

Consult your pet dog to see your veterinarian right away if ever you suspect that your dog has been infected with this fatal canine virus. The virus spreads fast and must be aggressively treated as soon as possible.

Here are the following symptoms and signs of distemper: 

1. Fever

Usually, fever occurs even just one episode a few days after infection. Other signs and symptoms may not be noticed. It is followed by a second fever episode a few days and weeks later when the other symptoms begin to show up.

2. Discharge from the Eyes and Nose

The first symptoms of canine distemper are fever or an elevated body temperature of above 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 39.7 degrees Celsius. It is also accompanied by reddened eyes as well as a watery discharge of the eyes and nose.

3. Loss of Appetite

Most viral infections like distemper manifest as lethargy and decreased appetite. It is also a manifestation of liver disease and cardiovascular problems. Lethargy may be caused by the lack of appetite, and as if your dog pet is not eating, then it is not getting any energy.

4. Lethargy

An infected dog eventually becomes tired and lethargic as well as anorexic. Vomiting, diarrhea, and persistent coughing are also exhibited. In dogs or other animals with weak immune systems will result in death from two to five weeks after the initial infection.

5. Vomiting and Diarrhea

The initial manifestation of canine distemper includes sneezing and coughing. Eventually, thick mucus comes out from your pet’s eyes and nose. It also includes fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and diarrhea, which can be very uncomfortable for your dog. 

6. Coughing

It is also one of the symptoms if your pet dog has distemper as noticed with unusual barking behavior.

7. Labored Breathing

The obvious signs of distemper among dogs are runny nose, dehydration, coughing, and excessive salivation. Also, it includes labored breathing, decreased appetite, and vomiting, diarrhea that could lead to dehydration and weight loss. 

A dog in labored breathing shows restlessness or uneasiness and fast breathing. The length of this canine systemic disease can be as short as ten days. The neurological signs and symptoms may not manifest until a couple of weeks or months later.

8. Sign of Hard Pad Disease

Hardening of your pet’s footpads and the nose is also associated with distemper. That is why it is also known as hard pad disease. 

9. Swollen Eyes

Your pet may also have inflammation of the eyes when it contracted distemper. 

10. Signs of Secondary Bacterial Infections

One of the major risks associated with this canine virus is the occurrence of a secondary bacterial infection. It attacks when the immune system of your dog is attacked by this canine distemper virus. Secondary bacterial infections may affect the respiratory and digestive system, causing symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. 

Recovery depends on your dog’s pet immune response. Those stronger dogs may appear to recover after the initial onset, only to develop severe neurologic symptoms. About 50 percent of distemper among dogs is fatal. Even though your dog pet has already recovered, they may still spread the virus for two to three months.


If your dog contracts distemper, the only treatment is supportive care, such as giving intravenous fluids, anti-seizure medications, and the medications to help control your dog’s vomiting and diarrhea. The veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to treat a secondary bacterial infection that may be present as well and ensure the general health and safety of your dog.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top