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Diagnosis and Treatment of Distemper in Dogs

If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, take him to a veterinarian, who will review the pet’s vaccination history (if available) and conduct a physical exam, looking for visual symptoms of the disease. A blood test and urinalysis may also be performed.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Distemper in Dogs


There is no effective treatment for distemper. The best path a veterinarian and pet parent can follow is to try to ease as many of the dog’s symptoms as possible. This may include giving the dog intravenous fluids, to treat dehydration and anorexia; antibiotics, to address secondary bacterial infections; and anti-seizure medications, to combat neurological symptoms.

In the end, a dog’s chances of surviving distemper depend on the strain of the virus and the strength of his or her immune system. More than half of all dogs with the illness will die, and almost 80 percent of puppies afflicted with it will perish. Often, a veterinarian will suggest that a dog with severe symptoms be euthanized. Recovery is possible in some dogs. However, it can be a long road — sometimes lasting up to three months. And in some cases, there can be permanent brain or nerve damage.




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