Canine distemper is a dangerous and highly contagious disease that you wouldn't want your dog to catch. It would affect all your dog's major functions including breathing and the central nervous system. Fortunately, there is a vaccine available to protect your dog. However, there is a bit of confusion about these vaccinations and how often your dog should be receiving them. To help clear up the confusion, here are is some information about both the disease and the vaccination.
What is canine distemper?
Canine distemper is a disease that affects many members of the canidae family, including dogs, foxes and wolves and other mammals. The disease attacks just about every system in the dog's body and causes a variety of problems such as nerve damage, blindness and motor issues. Though there is no known cure, some dogs can continue to live with the disease, though they may have bouts of infections throughout their lives. Many dogs can become anorexic or have neurological problems that can be alleviated temporarily with veterinary treatment. Adult dogs tend to have a less than 50% mortality rate from the disease, but puppies too young to be vaccinated have an 80% mortality rate according to the American Canine Association.
How can distemper be prevented?
Proper vaccination beginning in puppy-hood is the best way to prevent distemper. The recommended vaccine schedule usually begins when the puppy is about six to eight weeks old. It is suspected that the puppies get some immunity to this disease from their mother before this time. Boosters are given about every three or four weeks until the puppy is about four months old. Most veterinarians recommend the vaccines again when the dog is about a year old and every year after that. Recent research may indicate that adult dogs may be able to forgo the vaccine for three years, but it's always best to talk to your own veterinarian before risking your dog's immunity. If you have a puppy, keep it away from any un-vaccinated dogs until he or she has received his or her full puppy shot series.
Distemper is a debilitating, highly contagious disease for which there is no cure except through vaccination. Though a dog can survive the disease, he or she will have lifelong health issues because of it and will require frequently veterinary attention for as long as it lives. If you have questions about the safety of the vaccine, or want to know how often your puppy or dog should receive it, talk to your veterinarian for more information.