Humane Society of Utah sees rise in canine distemper cases

Photo: Humane Society of Utah

MURRAY, Utah, Dec. 1, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Humane Society of Utah and Salt Lake County Animal Services said officials are seeing an increased number of dogs test positive for the canine distemper virus.

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

Distemper is a highly contagious virus that can infect dogs and wildlife, the news release said. However, puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk for infection with distemper. Dogs can become infected from direct contact with a sick animal or being near an infected animal when coughing or sneezing. The virus can also be transmitted through shared food and water bowls or other objects that an infected animal contaminated.

“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.”

HSU and Salt Lake County Animal Services shared the following advice for pet owners:

  • Vaccinate dogs: Puppies should receive a series of three or more distemper vaccines between 2 and 4 months. The vaccine should be boostered a year later, then every three years for life.
  • Protect your puppy: Keep puppies at home and away from unfamiliar dogs until they have completed the vaccination series. Use caution when socializing dogs or in high-traffic dog areas such as dog parks, dog daycare, and boarding facilities.
  • Keep dogs away from wildlife: Never allow companion dogs to have contact with wildlife.

For more information about canine distemper, click here.


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