Arizona Humane Society Releases Distemper Alert

I was going to write about food bowls in this post until I received a pet health alert from the Arizona Humane Society regarding distemper in dogs.  Normally, the virus affects young, unvaccinated puppies every spring.  But this year, the Arizona Humane Society has noticed a difference in the disease.  Both puppies and adult dogs with questionable vaccination histories are getting the disease.  Clinical signs include lethargy, runny nose and eyes, anorexia, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea.  After the initial phase, affected dogs often develop hyperkeratosis of the pads on their paws and seizures.  Georgia, Florida and Ohio are also seeing this phenomenon.  According to the news release, “There is also evidence to suggest that two new strains of distemper indigenous to Europe have made their way to the U.S. and while the typical incubation period for distemper is one to two weeks the new stains may have even longer incubation periods.” 

Since there is no treatment for distemper, prevention is a must.  Keep your dog up-to-date on their distemper vaccination or blood titer checks.  Remember, it takes time for immunity to build in response to a vaccine.  Avoid dog parks, pet stores and other dog places for at least two weeks.  Also, the virus can be spread by physical contact so wash your hands and change your clothes after contacting dogs with unknown vaccination histories.  More information is available at

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.