Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease, caused by a virus which affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Pet owners are urged to be cautious, as this disease can be spread among domesticated dogs.
The SPCA explains that although dogs are the most commonly affected, Canine Distemper affects other carnivore species, including the bat-eared fox and African Wild dog.
“These infected animals can be the cause of the spread of this disease to domesticated dogs. Within the residential environment, the virus circulates amongst the unvaccinated dog population, which highlights the need for herd immunity to be created by vaccinating all puppies/dogs,” the SPCA writes on their website.
The virus is spread from dog to dog through direct contact with bodily secretions like nasal fluid, fresh urine, blood or saliva. The virus can remain on clothing, blankets, and food bowls, which aids in its transfer. Quarantining and disinfecting these items with household disinfectants like bleach is thus essential when treating distemper cases.
Even as an infected dog recovers over the weeks, it can still carry the virus and further contaminate others if not properly quarantined. They can be contagious for about three months after infection, according to the SPCA.