Canine Distemper

January 2014 by Cynda Crawford, DVM, PhD

Audience: Veterinary Team

Video Length: 102 minutes

Canine distemper outbreaks are a fact of life in animal shelters across the country, and a frequent cause of loss of life for infected and exposed dogs.

Shelters are particularly vulnerable to distemper outbreaks because many dogs who enter do not have protective immunity to the canine distemper virus (CDV), particularly dogs younger than one year. When an infected dog from the community comes into the shelter, CDV is efficiently spread to other dogs in the population.

The canine distemper virus causes severe disease, including respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms that can be life-threatening. Despite its seriousness, however, CDV can be treated. Many dogs are subclinical or only mildly affected, and can recover uneventfully. Even many of the more seriously affected dogs, including puppies, can recover if they receive the right supportive care.

How can animal shelters do a better job of protecting their dogs from contracting CDV? Can outbreaks be prevented? And is treatment a realistic option for infected shelter dogs?

Please join Maddie's InstituteSM and Dr. Cynda Crawford, one of the country's leading experts on canine respiratory disease, as she presents Everything Shelters Need to Know About Canine Distemper.

In this presentation, attendees will learn:

  • The basics of the canine distemper virus (CDV)
  • Risk factors contributing to the frequency of canine distemper outbreaks in shelters
  • How to create a clean break between infected/exposed dogs and new admissions without resorting to depopulation
  • More rules and tools for lifesaving intervention during shelter outbreaks
  • Current best practices to mitigate risks of outbreaks in both open and managed admission shelters
  • The role of vaccination, antibody titer testing and housing
  • How to communicate with community members and the media about outbreaks and prevention

Everything Shelters Need to Know About Canine Distemper is part of an ongoing series of educational programs from Maddie's Institute, the academic division of Maddie's Fund®, providing the most innovative animal welfare information to shelter staff, veterinarians, rescue groups and community members to increase the lifesaving of homeless dogs and cats community-wide.

This course has been pre-approved for Certified Animal Welfare Administrator continuing education credits.After viewing the presentation, click here to take the quiz and receive a Certificate of Attendance!

After viewing the presentation, click here to take the quiz and receive a Certificate of Attendance!

About Cynda Crawford, DVM, PhD

Dr. Cynda Crawford is Maddie's® Clinical Assistant Professor of Shelter Medicine in Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Crawford earned a PhD in Immunology/Infectious Diseases from the University of Florida in 1984 and a DVM degree from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the same institution in 1989. Her areas of expertise include canine and feline infectious diseases, and evaluation of diagnostic tests and vaccines for infectious diseases.

She focuses on diagnosis and management of viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections in shelter dogs. Dr. Crawford was instrumental in identifying the H3N8 canine influenza virus and among the pioneering researchers into the disease when it first presented in shelter dogs in Florida in 2004.


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