Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper



What is CDV and How Common is it?

CDV is a common disease in Laos, particularly in unvaccinated puppies from unvaccinated mothers. It is caused by a virus which is shed in bodily secretions but especially from the respiratory tract. Unvaccinated dog of any age are susceptible to CDV but particularly puppies 2-6 months.

What are the signs of CDV?

Early symptoms of the disease occur 3-6 days after initial infection. These mild symptoms may go unnoticed and include fever, mild conjunctivitis and loss of appetite. 6-14 days after infection symptoms worsen showing respiratory and gastrointestinal signs which may be complicated by secondary bacterial infections.

  • Respiratory: Sneezing and a clear nasal discharge which becomes thick and yellow; runny eyes. Soft moist cough which can progress to pneumonia.
  • Gastrointestinal: Vomiting and diarrhoea which quickly causes dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

These symptoms may then be followed by more serious neurological signs – fits or seizures, twitching, shaking, trembling and ‘chewing-gum fits’. They often occur later in life and even into old age. Sadly, they are very difficult to control – we unfortunately often have to recommend that these dogs should be humanely euthanized. Some dogs may also develop erosions in their teeth or hardness of their foot pads or nose.

How is it Diagnosed?

As the symptoms of CDV are highly characteristic of the virus we often have a high suspicion of the disease after examining your dog. We also need to perform a blood test for the virus – we then have the results in 10 minutes.

How is it Treated?

As CDV is viral there is no cure for the disease, consequently the bet treatment is nursing:

  • You should provide a clean, warm and draught-free environment for your puppy.
  • Any discharge from the nose and eyes should be gently bathed as necessary with warm salty water.
  • Vaporization and humidification with eucalyptus oil can also help with the congestion in your dog’s lungs.
  • We often need to prescribe antibiotics to combat any secondary infections and anti-diarrhoeals/anti-emetics to decrease diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Isolation from other dogs is vital to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Any unvaccinated (but healthy) dogs in the household should be vaccinated as soon as possible.


The prognosis depends on the strain of VDC and your dog’s immune system. Half of all dogs infected with CDV will die due to dehydration or neurological symptoms. This figure is much higher in puppies and up to 80% may die even with treatment. Also, some effects of CDV such as fits and dental problems may persist for many years after the initial infection. Dogs that recover will shed the virus for several weeks after the infection but do not continue to shed the virus for life.

How to Prevent?

CDV is easily prevented by proper vaccination. This means 2-3 vaccinations when a puppy, starting at 6-8 weeks old with the final vaccine at 12 weeks or older. At Animal Doctors International we recommend that your puppy be vaccinated at 6, 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age with yearly boosters after the primary course. Finally, if you have lost a dog due to distemper you should wait 1 month before introducing a new dog into your household as the virus can survive in the environment for a short time. You should also clean their living area with a 1:49 solution of bleach.

Call 021 316 410
Or 020 7714 1144


Opening hours: 9am - 8pm (7 days)
24/7 Emergency and Critical Care

Address: Tha Deua, Km 3 between RMA and Rashmi Hotel

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