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Preventing Canine Distemper and prognosis for infected Dogs
By: Tippy and Turbo
The best and most effective way to prevent canine distemper
is through vaccination. But, does vaccination prevent your dog
from getting canine distemper?
In short, no it doesn't.
The vaccination only protects against certain strains of
canine distemper and lessens the impact of the disease on
the dog. In the end it may save your dog's life but there is
still a fifty percent chance your dog will get canine
distemper and transmit it to other dogs if the dog is
exposed to it.
A vaccination also works well if given four days after being
exposed to the virus. The immunity granted by the
vaccination is not permanent and must be given annually to
make sure that the dog is protected.
You should discuss with your veterinarian the risks of
vaccinating your dog against distemper and decide what type
of distemper shot you want to give your dog as there are
several different types with their own advantages and
The two most common vaccines that are used to vaccinate
canines are culture adapted vaccines from canine tissue and
from chick embryos.
The vaccine made from canine tissue, also known as the
Rockborn strain, is nearly one hundred percent effective and
rarely causes swelling of the brain also known as fatal
encephalitis) one to two weeks after being vaccinated. This
vaccine, however, should not be given to dogs with weak
Vaccines made from Chick embryos, also known as
Onderstepoort and Oederle strain, are safer than the
Rockborn strain but aren't as effective. Chick embryo
vaccines are only about eighty percent effective.
While puppies are nursing from their mothers they have the
antibodies from the mother, if the mother dog was
vaccinated, but once they are weaned the antibodies wear off
after about two months and the puppies should be vaccinated.
Two to three vaccinations should be given during this time.
After puppy hood dogs should be given the vaccination
Households with a lot of dogs:
Any dog that is suspected of contracting CDV should be
isolated from the other dogs in the household and all the
other dogs should be vaccinated if they haven't recently
been vaccinated against canine distemper.
Once the virus leaves the host dog's body it doesn't last
long. Exposure to heat, sunlight, soaps, chemicals and
detergents will kill the virus. Once an infected dog has
been removed from the premises the area should be thoroughly
cleaned with a bleach mixture to kill any remaining virus
that may have contaminated the living area.
Households with one dog:
If a dog in your household has died from canine distemper
you should wait a month before bringing home a new puppy.
The living area and contaminated objects should be cleaned
with a bleach solution and be thoroughly cleaned and
Prognosis of dogs with Canine Distemper:
If your dog contracts canine distemper there is really
little that can be done for the dog. The strain of the virus
your dog contracts and your dog's immune system response
will determine whether your dog lives or dies. There is no
cure for canine distemper, although the symptoms can be
treated, and this treatment may help the dog's body fight
off the disease.
Most dogs die within two weeks to three months after
becoming infected with CDV. The deaths usually occur from
complications of the virus which affect the nervous system.
Many veterinarians recommend euthanasia after the diagnosis
instead of allowing the dog to suffer through the various
stages and then die from severe neurological complications.
Dogs that recover from CDV or canine distemper often develop
chronic or fatal problems with their central nervous
systems. Dogs that have mild symptoms may recover from the
disease but symptoms can persist for several months
afterward. Dogs with strong immune systems may never show
any sign of infection at all. If your dog fully recovers
from the virus it will no longer be infectious to other dogs
after about a month.