Canine Distemper Vaccination Schedule

Canine distemper vaccination has been available since the 1950s in both the live virus and recombinant formats. Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease that is often fatal. This disease is not species specific and can affect wolves, raccoons, ferrets and coyotes apart from dogs.

Canine distemper is caused by the paramyxovirus and a healthy dog is infected if it comes in contact with an infected dog’s nasal or ocular discharge. The distemper virus can survive in soil for up to 1 year and can infect healthy pets. Dogs that are housed with other dogs in animal shelters are also more likely to be infected with the virus, especially if they have an incomplete vaccination history.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper

  • Eye and nose discharge that is thick and greenish yellow in color
  • Loss of appetite
  • Intermittent fever
  • Dry cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Callusing of the foot pads
  • Callusing of the nose
  • Neurological symptoms such as seizures, weakness in the limbs, loss of balance and tremors

Canine Distemper Vaccine

The canine distemper vaccine is a core vaccine that must be given to every dog. This vaccine is a low risk vaccine as it has few or no side effects associated with it. It is extremely efficient in preventing canine distemper and thus recommended by most vets. The vaccine plays a vital role in the prevention of canine distemper in young puppies since it stimulates the production of antibodies and memory cells in the dog’s body. This production primes the dog’s body to defend itself should it be attacked by the disease causing virus. Although the vaccination induces immune response in the live virus format, but the dog is in very little danger of contracting the disease. The recombinant format is preferred as there is no risk of the dog contracting the disease.

Canine Distemper Vaccination Schedule

New puppies should be checked by a veterinarian at the earliest and should ideally be kept isolated from other dogs till they are 22 weeks old. Once the puppy is determined to be in sound health and checked for viral or parasitic infections, the veterinarian will suggest when the vaccination schedule should be started. There is a combination vaccine that offers protection against 5 common but deadly diseases and distemper is one of these.

Puppies should be vaccinated at 6 to 8 weeks of age and should be given shots every 2 to 4 weeks till they are 16 weeks old. They should then be vaccinated when they are 1 year old. The vaccination should be repeated yearly or once in 3 years, depending on the dog’s antibody titer levels. The canine distemper vaccination provides immunity for 8 to 10 years and hence if the antibody titer levels are high, the dog has the ability to resist infection and doesn’t need a shot.

Since canine distemper only strikes puppies, adult dogs don’t need to be vaccinated regularly. Similarly young puppies less than 6 weeks of age shouldn’t be vaccinated against canine distemper. The vaccine is also contraindicated in sick dogs or pets with a weakened immune system due to genetic factors or another disease.

Canine distemper vaccination protects your dog from contracting this dreaded disease that can often prove fatal. You should thus ensure that he is given the required shots as per the schedule recommended by your veterinarian.