Distemper Vaccine for Dogs: The Distemper Shot & Side Effects

Medical articles

Imagine a world without the sound of a dog barking, the sight of a wagging tail, or the feel of a wet nose nuzzling your hand. It would be a much less joyful place, wouldn't it? 

Dogs are our furry friends, our loyal companions, and our cherished family members. They bring us so much joy and love, and it's hard to imagine life without them. 

Unfortunately, there is a disease that could take that away. Distemper is a highly contagious virus that can be fatal for dogs, especially puppies. That's why it's so important to get your dog vaccinated against distemper. The vaccine is safe and effective, and it can save your dog's life, as well as the lives of any animal they come in contact with. So please, don't take your dog for granted. Make sure they are vaccinated against distemper. It's one of the best things you can do for them. 

Distemper Vaccine Dogs: The Distemper Shot & Side Effects 

Distemper in dogs is caused by a very contagious virus called canine distemper virus (CDV). Infection is typically spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, especially through coughing and sneezing (and the ever-present dog drool).  

Several strains exist which can result in different degrees of illness. The different strains of CDV can cause different degrees of illness in dogs. Some strains may cause mild symptoms, such as fever and runny nose. Other strains may cause more severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, seizures, and death.  Canine distemper can affect the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, skin, eyes, and/or the nervous system including the brain. Infections can be fatal. Distemper symptoms can include:  

  • Lying around more 

  • Fever 

  • Poor appetite 

  • Cough 

  • Runny nose or eyes 

  • Vomiting 

  • Abnormal areas of skin swelling or thickening 

  • Trouble walking 

  • Twitching 

  • Convulsion 

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all possible distemper symptoms. If you are concerned that your dog may have distemper, please consult with a veterinarian. 

Young dogs are at the highest risk for infection. The disease can also affect wildlife such as raccoons and foxes, and occasionally ferrets and cats.  

No cure exists for canine distemper. Fortunately, a distemper vaccine is available. If your dog is appropriately vaccinated and boostered, they will be more likely to be safe from this deadly disease.  

Diagnostic Tests and Supportive Care for Canine Distemper 

If your vet has any concerns that your pup might have canine distemper, they will want to run some tests immediately. Diagnostic tests for distemper vary, but often include:  

These tests allow your veterinarian to assess the severity of the infection and pinpoint any potential complications.  

As for supportive care, it’s essential to know there’s no specific cure for canine distemper. However, don’t lose hope; many infected dogs recover with the right combination of treatments. The primary goals of supportive care are to manage symptoms, prevent secondary infections, and maintain hydration and nutrition. Your vet may prescribe medications and suggest therapeutic interventions to provide your dog with the best chance of a full recovery.  

Distemper Vaccine for Dogs 

The distemper vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your dog from a deadly virus. With just a few shots, you can give your furry friend a lifetime of good health and happiness.  

Distemper vaccines are typically combined with other vaccines to reduce the number of injections needed. Several combination vaccines are available.  

  • DHPP or DAPP vaccines vaccinate for distemper virus, adenovirus-1, adenovirus-2 which causes hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus.  

  • DHLPP vaccines vaccinate for the same diseases as DHPP/DAPP as well as strains of leptospirosis.  

You may also hear these vaccines referred to as 5-in-1 or 5-way, 6-in-1 or 6-way, or 8-in-1 or 8-way vaccines depending on the combinations of vaccines being used in one vaccine shot.  

When Should Dogs Receive a Distemper Vaccine?  

Puppies can get their first distemper vaccine as early as 6 weeks old. This is important because puppies are more likely to get distemper. Puppies should have their first distemper vaccine or shot at six to eight weeks old, as part of their initial puppy shot expenses, then every 2-4 weeks until they're 16 weeks old. After that, they'll need a booster one year later, then every 1-3 years for the rest of their lives.

Older dogs need at least 2 vaccines, 2-4 weeks apart, followed by a booster vaccine in 1 year and then every 1-3 years thereafter.  

What Dogs are Most Susceptible to Distemper? 

Besides getting your dog vaccinated on time, it's also important to know what makes them more likely to get distemper. Things like stress, a weakened immune system, or contact with infected animals can all put your dog at risk. 

Dogs from shelters, rescue centers, breeding kennels, or pet stores are also more likely to get distemper. This is because they're often around a lot of other dogs, some of which may be sick. 

Other high-risk dogs include those that board at kennels or doggie daycares, visit groomers, dog parks, or engage with other dogs on a daily basis. Dogs in multi-pet homes are also at higher risk, since they're more likely to be exposed to the virus from other pets in the household. 

If your dog is in any of these high-risk categories, it's important to talk to your veterinarian about how to protect them from distemper. They may recommend more frequent vaccinations or other preventive measures. 

Distemper Vaccine Side Effects: What Pet Owners Should Know 

For the most part, the distemper vaccine and most of the vaccines it can be combined with are very safe. However, pet owners should be aware of possible side effects and how to handle them. 

Mild Side Effects: 

Swelling or pain at the injection site is not uncommon. Some pets may be a little tired for the first 24 hours post-vaccination. These are mild but normal effects that should resolve with time and rest. 

Vaccine Reactions: 

A more serious, though rare, side effect is a vaccine reaction. Symptoms include: 

  • Hives  

  • Facial swelling 

  • Trouble breathing  

If you notice these symptoms, call a veterinarian immediately. For dogs with a history of vaccine reactions, veterinarians may take additional precautions, such as pre-medicating with steroids or antihistamines, or adjusting the vaccination schedule. 

Rare Side Effects: 

Rare side effects include: 

Though extremely rare, these side effects could be concerning. Your veterinarian can discuss the risks and address any concerns you may have.   

Benefits of Vaccination: 

Remember, the benefits of proper vaccination far outweigh the risks. The distemper vaccine helps protect your dog from the potentially fatal virus, allowing for a healthier life.  

Vaccination works by exposing your dog's immune system to a weakened or inactive form of the virus. This triggers the body to produce antibodies, which can fight off the real virus if your dog is ever exposed to it. 

While there is always a small risk of side effects from any vaccination, the benefits of protecting your dog from distemper far outweigh the risks. The distemper vaccine is safe and effective, and it is recommended by many veterinarians.  Discuss apprehensions with your veterinarian, and always monitor your dog after vaccination for any side effects. 

Importance of Veterinarian Consultation for Distemper Vaccine: 

Having a candid conversation with your veterinarian about the distemper vaccine, its potential side effects, and any other concerns you have is essential. Veterinarians are highly trained experts in pet health, so they are the perfect people to help you make the best decision for your furry friend. 

Don't be afraid to ask any questions you have, big or small. Your veterinarian is there to help you and your pet, and they want you to feel comfortable and informed. 

 Set up a chat with your vet about the distemper vaccine for dogs. You’ll leave feeling reassured and prepared to give your dog the best shot (pun intended) at a healthy and happy life.  

Protect Your Dog from Distemper and More 

Distemper is a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus that can affect dogs of all ages, but it’s just one of the hundreds of issues we see from pet parents on a regular basis. Consider investing in pet insurance, so that you can give your dog the protection they need not only from distemper, but from everything else they can face. 

Embrace also offers an optional, additional pet wellness plan that can help you budget for vaccination expenses. The wellness plan reimburses the cost of routine veterinary care, such as annual exams and vaccinations. This can make it more affordable to vaccinate your dog against distemper and other diseases. 

Protect Your Dog From Distemper: A Simple Way to Show Your Love 

Our furry friends are more than just pets. They are our family members. They are the ones who greet us at the door with wagging tails and wet kisses, no matter how bad our day has been. They are the ones who listen to us cry, vent, and laugh, without judgment. They are the ones who make us feel loved and accepted. 

That's why it's so important to protect our precious pups from distemper, a deadly virus that can affect dogs of all ages. Getting your dog vaccinated against distemper is one of the best things you can do for them. It's a simple way to show them how much you love and care. 

Imagine your life without your furry best friend. It would be empty and incomplete. So please, do everything you can to protect them from distemper. Get them vaccinated today.