Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is a viral disease that infects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Dogs who have not been vaccinated for Canine Distemper are the most at-risk. While the disease can also be contracted when improperly vaccinated or when a dog has high susceptibility to bacterial infection, these cases are rare.

CDV can be spread through direct contact (licking, breathing air, etc.) or indirect contact (bedding, toys, food bowls, etc.), though it cannot live on surfaces for very long. Inhaling the virus is the primary method of exposure. There is no known cure for CDV, and quick response to the disease greatly improves your pet’s chances at survival, especially for younger puppies. Because of its severity, we advise you to contact our office as soon as you notice something might be wrong.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper Virus:

CDV initially attacks the tonsils and lymph nodes, and symptoms can be unnoticeable for the first 6 to 9 days. Pay close attention to your pet for any of the following ailments, as they may indicate CDV: 

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Lethargy and tiredness
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Thickening of the skin on feet and nose
  • Vomiting
  • Watery discharge excreted from eyes and nose

Diagnosing and treating CDV

There are a number of tests that can be performed to determine if your pet has CDV. The two most common types are biochemical tests and urine analysis. Biochemical tests will reveal if your dog has a reduced number of lymphocytes, and urine analysis will detect viral antigens. Together, they indicate that the body is fighting an infection and which infection it is likely fighting. If neurological damage is suspected, a CT scan or MRI might be warranted to determine whether any lesions have developed on the brain.

Once CDV has been diagnosed, treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms since there currently is not a cure for the disease. Most treatment plans differ because there are numerous strains of CDV, and every canine’s disease progresses differently. Treatment planning is conducted after a dog is evaluated, the strain they’ve contracted is verified, and their current status is determined. In managing your pet outside of the treatment provided by our veterinarian, it is important to monitor your dog for symptoms of dehydration or pneumonia: 

  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Thick mucousy nasal discharge

It is entirely possible to recover from Canine Distemper Disease. Recovery is usually dependent upon the strength of the dog’s immune system and the strain of distemper they have contracted. It can take up to 2 months to fully recover. How quickly you respond to potential CDV symptoms also impacts your pet’s chances at survival. Studies show that canines vaccinated as many as 4 days after contracting the disease still receive immunity and can fully recover. We highly recommend seeking immediate veterinary attention after suspecting that your pet has come into contact with the disease.

If you have any questions about Canine Distemper or think your pet may have come into contact with the disease, please contact our office.


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Here's a vet that still cares.
Just wanted to say I love Dr. Petcu's staff and his compassionate , caring way of taking care of my dogs.The staff is not only friendly and professional ,they know who you are when you arrive ,and they actually love animals. Is the first Animal Hospital that my dogs are at ease and feel comfortable.The place is very clean and the reception area very elegant and inviting. Exquisite services and Dr. Petcu always take his time to explain the disease and options and still finds time to play with my dogs. He's always treated both his animal and human patients with compassion and dignity,and would never recommend procedures unless he truly feels your pet will benefit from it. One of the vets that cares for your pet. The prices are reasonable and the services exceed all expectations. I Highly recommend Dr.Petcu and his hospital.

Reba S

Western Animal Hospital AMAZING! Western Animal Hospital is the best place in the valley .The staff is professional, friendly, caring and accommodating. The hospital is very clean and upscale. The customer service and the provided services are outstanding.Dr. Petcu is one of the most professional veterinarians that i have ever met in my 25 years of pet parenting. I drive across the valley just to see him( i live in Anthem) .He really cares about his animal patients and it shows in every visits . He is very knowledgeable , compassionate, friendly and always takes the time to answer any question i have and explaining in detail any situation we are dealing with. I had my share of visits to many animal hospitals in the valley but none of them had the last technology as Western - digital X-ray ( they send you home with a cd for you x-ray records ) every room has a computer monitor where the x-ray shows and Dr. Petcu can review with me every detail of it. Also they have the laser surgery and digital dental x-ray. Dr. petcu is one of the most
courteous and pleasant Vets I have ever met. The prices are more than reasonable and also they try to accommodate everybody. I cannot recommend them enough. You can rest easy knowing your pets are in their care.I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS HOSPITAL - THEY HAVE A CUSTOMER FOR LIFE IN ME! very good !

Betty K

Western Animal Hospital this doctor is making a lot of sense and will explain everything in details..
prices are great ....

.the best vet I met !! Pam M. 5 Western Animal Hospital - we are bringing our pets to Dr Petcu for 8 years. He was always helpful, many times we did not have the funds to treat our pets but he was fine with us paying when we had the money. He saved our cats in many instances and all I have to say is that I greatly reccomend Western Animal Hospital for any responsable pet owner .

Yolanda M

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