Canine Distemper: 4 Warning Signs

Canine distemper is a viral infection which is highly contagious. It can be easily spread between dogs through both direct and indirect contact. Although national dog vaccination programmes have helped to reduce the infection rate, foxes, wild dogs, and other animals can also carry the virus. Even if you have had your dog vaccinated, it is useful to know the signs and symptoms of canine distemper. Below are four warning signs that your dog may be developing canine distemper.


The first noticeable sign that your dog may be developing canine distemper is a high temperature. The fever will usually occur a few days after infection and may be accompanied by a discharge from the eyes and a runny nose. If you notice signs of a fever, you should take your dog to a vet. A vet will be able to assess your dog and carry out a blood test to determine the cause of the fever. As long as your dog does not have other health problems, it will usually fully recover from the illness.

Thick or Hard Foot Pads

If you notice that your dog's footpads are thicker than usual or that they feel hard to the touch, this could be a sign of canine distemper. The virus can interrupt the formation of keratin within your dog's body, causing the pads to change.

Loss of Appetite, Vomiting and Diarrhoea

Most dogs will happily eat almost anything you put in front of them. If you notice that your dog is suffering from a loss of appetite, this could be a sign of canine distemper. A loss of appetite is sometimes followed by a period of vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to your dog becoming dehydrated. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your dog to the emergency vet for treatment.

Involuntary Movements

The white blood cells in your pet's bloodstream will combat the virus. Unfortunately, as the white blood cells do this, they also release enzymes. These enzymes can cause damage to the myelin sheath which protects the nerves in your dog's body, causing your dog to make involuntary movements such as sudden jerking and twitching of their head and limbs. If you notice this symptom, you should immediately take your dog to the vet, as in extreme cases paralysis and seizures can occur.

If you have any concerns about the health of your dog, you should contact a vet clinic today.