Humane Society of Utah warns of the canine distemper virus

Dec 1, 2021, 8:52 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2021, 4:25 pm
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MURRAY, Utah — The Humane Society of Utah and Salt Lake County Animal Services are warning people of the canine distemper virus after a rising number of dogs tested positive. 

“Common signs of distemper in dogs include discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, coughing, lethargy, disorientation, tremors and seizures,” said Dr. Timna Fischbein, medical director at the HSU. 

The virus is extremely contagious for dogs and wildlife. Puppies and dogs that haven’t been vaccinated are at the highest risk for getting distemper. 

“Many people add new puppies to their families during the holidays,” said Guinnevere Shuster, associate director of marketing and communications at HSU. “We want to remind people to be cautious and keep their new furry family members safe by getting them vaccinated.” 

The virus can be contracted from direct contact and from an animal coughing or sneezing. Shared food, water bowls and other shared items can also spread the virus. 

“There is no treatment for distemper, so preventing the disease by getting your dogs vaccinated is crucial,” Fischbein said. 

Recommendations for dog owners:

  • Vaccinate and stay up-to-date: At least three distemper vaccines should be given between two and four months. A year later the puppy should receive a booster, then every three years afterward. 
  • Protect unvaccinated: Be careful when interacting with other dogs and around common areas like, parks and care facilities.  
  • Avoid wildlife: Don’t allow domestic dogs near wildlife.

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Humane Society of Utah warns of the canine distemper virus