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Your vet says your puppy needs a whole series of distemper shots. He or she gives your puppy the first shot, gives you a schedule of vaccines and sets up the next appointment, which is two weeks away. You've heard of distemper before, but it isn't something serious like Rabies, right? You're going to be firm and tell the vet that you don't need a bunch of shots when you go in for that appointment in two weeks - just the Rabies vaccine.
Actually, distemper is quite serious. While it is not dangerous to all the people in your household, the way Rabies is, it is usually fatal in puppies. In fact, distemper is such a risky virus that vets often will recommend that new puppy owners keep their puppies away from areas where other dogs hang out until they've had their shots. That means trips to the dog park or a visit to the local town festival with your new puppy in tow is a bad idea until he or she has finished the distemper shot series.
If your puppy does show signs of illness, like being listless or feverish or just doesn't seem like it is acting right to you, take it to the vet to rule out distemper. The recovery rate for puppies with this lethal virus is about 20 percent and most of the puppies that recover will have some permanent side effects. Puppies diagnosed quickly have a much better chance of beating the disease than puppies that are sick for a week or two before the vet realizes they have distemper.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|