Selecting Better Pets
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Selecting Better Pets

After we started thinking more seriously about expanding our family, my husband brought up the idea of getting a pet or two. While I was completely against the concept at first, I realized that it might be helpful for our children to warm up to the idea before having another sibling. We got a dog and our kids were tasked with the job of feeding it every day and doing other tasks, and it was amazing to see how much the animal helped our family to grow. Pets can be a wonderful addition to a home, which is why I made this blog. Check out these fun pet posts.

Selecting Better Pets

What Every First Time Dog Owner Needs To Know About Canine Distemper & Vaccinations

Natalie Baker

Welcoming the first addition to the family doesn't always mean having a baby. In fact, many newlyweds are getting a dog before they have children. If the dog is the first living creature that either person has cared for, they may not realize the importance of vaccinations, particularly for distemper. If you are bringing a dog into your family, here's what you need to know about distemper and why vaccination for it is important.


Distemper is a very serious viral disease that can be prevented by vaccinating. The paramyxovirus is the virus that causes canine distemper, and it closely resembles the human measles in course and pathogenesis, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). If a dog contracts distemper, the first symptoms include lethargy, coughing, vomiting, anorexia, fever, and inflammation of the spinal cord and brain. A dog with distemper may later develop hyperkeratosis, which means their pads and nose enlarge and harden.

As the disease progresses, it attacks the central nervous system and can cause symptoms such as paralysis, seizures, muscle twitching, convulsions, and death. Distemper is highly contagious and there is no cure for it, so it is crucial to have your dog vaccinated for distemper. 


The distemper vaccination is considered one of the core vaccinations for dogs. If you are getting your new four-legged family member as a puppy, it will need the first distemper vaccination between the ages of 6-8 weeks and another one between 10-12 weeks of age. This is called the initial series. For your puppy's safety, it's important to keep it away from other animals until this initial series is completed or it could be at risk of developing distemper from an animal that has not been vaccinated, including wild animals such as raccoons and skunks. Additionally, your dog will need a distemper booster one year after the initial series is completed and then another booster at least every three years for life.

Keep Track

It's important to keep track of when your dog needs the vaccinations and boosters for distemper so you know when to schedule visits with the veterinarian. Sometimes, veterinarian offices will place reminder calls or send notices through the mail to dog owners as to when their dogs need to return for more vaccinations. It's also important to keep a copy of the vaccination record on hand, particularly if you plan on putting your dog into doggy daycare of a boarding facility as they will require certain vaccinations, including distemper.

For more information about animal vaccinations, contact a veterinarian clinic like Jones Animal Health Clinic.