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Caring for our pets as they grow older brings a unique set of challenges and concerns. Like many of you, we’ve navigated these waters with our beloved furry family members and discovered that this disease is often fatal, with a 50% mortality rate in adult dogs and 80% in puppies.

Through this blog, we aim to shed light on the critical importance of pet vaccinations for your aging companions, offering not just peace of mind but also actionable advice. Join us as we delve into how best to safeguard the health of your senior pet, ensuring their golden years are as vibrant and healthy as possible.

Distemper Disease 101

Distemper is a deadly disease that targets dogs, especially those with weak immune systems like our adult pets. It attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of affected animals.

Causes of Distemper

Viruses cause distemper, and it spreads easily among animals through direct contact. Imagine your pet sniffing where an infected animal has been; that’s all it takes for them to catch this dangerous virus.

Coughing and sneezing from an infected dog can also send the virus into the air, making even a simple walk in the park a risk if an infected animal has passed by.

We take every step to protect our senior pets from contagious diseases like distemper because their aging immune systems don’t fight off viruses as well as they used to.

Signs and Symptoms of Distemper

  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures or paralysis

Distemper Treatment

Treating distemper focuses on supporting the pet’s body while it fights off the virus. We ensure they stay hydrated and maintain a balanced nutrition plan to bolster their immune response. Our vets might prescribe medications to manage symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, ensuring that your pet remains as comfortable as possible during recovery.

We also pay close attention to preventing secondary infections, often a risk with weakened immune systems in aging pets. Regular check-ups play a critical role in monitoring their health status, adjusting treatments as necessary.

With no direct cure for distemper available, our emphasis lies on supportive wellness care and keeping senior pets’ environment clean and stress-free to aid their recovery process.

What is the Distemper Vaccine?

The distemper vaccine protects our senior pets from a serious infectious disease. It’s one of the core vaccines that we give to keep them healthy and happy as they age.

Vaccine types available for distemper

  • Core vaccines – Forms the foundation of a pet’s preventative care. Usually guards against distemper, hepatitis, rabies, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. For older dogs that have never been vaccinated or those whose vaccination history is unknown, starting with these core combination vaccines provides broad protection.
  • Booster shots – Helps maintain immunity, aging affects a pet’s immune response, making regular boosters for older pets an essential part of senior pet care.

Several vaccines are available to protect senior pets from distemper, each tailored to meet their specific needs. Veterinarians often recommend a tailored series of vaccinations for older pets based on their lifestyle and health status to ensure they receive optimal protection without unnecessary risk.

Why Should Senior Pets Be Vaccinated Against Distemper?

Senior pets, particularly dogs, face significantly lower protection against diseases like distemper as they age. Unlike their younger counterparts, their immune response weakens over time, making them more susceptible to this deadly virus.

The Canine Distemper vaccine stands out as a core vaccine crucial for maintaining pet health across all ages. By ensuring our aging companions receive this vaccine, we safeguard them from the severe consequences of the disease.

We recognize that vaccinations for senior pets aren’t a clear-cut decision and depend on various factors, including lifestyle and previous immunization history. However, given that older dogs may have never been vaccinated or their immunity could have waned, incorporating the DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) vaccine into their health regimen becomes imperative.

Our commitment to protecting senior pets from disease extends to tailoring vaccination schedules that accommodate their unique needs while minimizing risks. Vaccinating against distemper is not just about prevention; it’s an essential step in ensuring our aging furry friends enjoy a healthy life.


Can a Dog Survive Distemper?

Yes, a dog can survive distemper. However, it demands immediate and aggressive treatment as soon as the symptoms are recognized. Veterinary medicine has made significant advances, and when we provide our senior pets with prompt care, their chances of survival increase significantly.

The course of the disease varies; some dogs may recover fully, while others could face long-term neurological effects.

Is Distemper Painful for Dogs?

Distemper in dogs can cause severe discomfort and pain. Symptoms like fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting stress their bodies and lead to discomfort.

As the disease progresses, it affects the nervous system, leading to twitches, seizures, and paralysis, which are not only painful but also frightening for our senior pets. The DHPP vaccine for dogs plays a crucial role in protecting them against this distressing experience.

Can a Vaccinated Dog Get Distemper?

We often hear pet owners ask if their vaccinated dogs can still get distemper. The answer is, while rare, it is possible. Vaccines like the DHPP vaccine for dogs, which includes protection against distemper, significantly reduce the chances of your senior pet contracting this deadly virus.

However, no vaccine offers 100% immunity. Factors such as the dog’s overall health, age, and timing of vaccination play a crucial role in its effectiveness.

Senior pets with weakened immune systems might not respond to vaccines as robustly as younger animals do. Even though we follow a tailored vaccination schedule for older pets to boost their defense system, there’s always a slight risk involved.

Ensuring your senior dog receives regular booster shots, as recommended by your veterinarian, is key to maintaining their protection levels high against diseases like distemper.

Can Humans Get Distemper?

Humans cannot contract distemper from their pets. This virus specifically targets animals, mainly affecting dogs, ferrets, and wildlife. Our immune systems are different enough from these animals that the distemper virus does not pose a threat to human health.

So, while we focus on protecting our senior pets with vaccinations like the DHPP vaccine for dogs, we don’t have to worry about catching the disease ourselves.

How Long Does Distemper Last?

Distemper in dogs can vary in length, depending on several factors such as the pet’s immune response and how soon treatment begins. Typically, the acute phase of distemper lasts for about two to four weeks.

However, neurological symptoms can last much longer and could be permanent in some cases. We prioritize tailored vaccination schedules for older pets because vaccinations are safe for senior dogs and offer them protection from diseases like canine distemper.

If a dog contracts distemper, it is crucial to start treatment right away. Early intervention may help reduce the duration of the disease and improve chances for recovery.

Provide Your Pet with the Protection They Deserve Today!

Now that we’ve learned all there is about distemper, it is important that we take this information to heart. Preventable diseases can pose no threat as long as we take the necessary steps to protect our pet.

Schedule your pets’ vaccination at Upland Animal Hospital today!