Canine Distemper Symptoms & Signs

Canine distemper symptoms typically present themselves in a series of five stages after the virus has been contracted:

  • Stage 1: Incubation (no visible symptoms) – about 1 week
  • Stage 2: Fever and sluggishness – 1 to 3 days
  • Stage 3: Dog returns to no visible symptoms – up to one week
  • Stage 4: Dog starts to demonstrate the initial “trademark” symptoms, including:
    • Dog cough
    • Lethargic behavior
    • Loss of appetite
    • Fever (over 101.5 degrees F, 38.6 degrees C)
    • Clear discharge from the nose
  • Stage 5: Advanced “trademark” symptoms begin to appear shortly after the initial symptoms, including:

The signs of distemper are all caused by the affect that the virus has on the digestive, respiratory and central nervous systems.

Dogs that die due to lack of treatment are usually the victims of a secondary bacterial infection or complications resulting from damage to the central nervous system.

See our Distemper in Dogs page to learn about the causes, treatment and prevention of distemper.

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