PHOENIX — The Arizona Humane Society is warning dog owners about an increase in confirmed cases of the canine distemper virus.
AHS says it has confirmed several cases of the virus throughout the Valley and is currently caring for 20 dogs. Sadly, AHS says it has already had to "humanely put to sleep" several dogs due to advanced, neurological stages of the disease.
Canine distemper is a highly contagious and often fatal airborne virus that spreads among dogs through body excretions and inhalation.
The disease reproduces in the lymph nodes before entering the bloodstream and cell lining of the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems.
Signs of distemper can look just like canine upper respiratory infections (URI) and can vary from dog to dog, making it complicated to diagnose.
AHS says managing the disease is possible but there is currently no cure for canine distemper.
AHS urges all pet owners to make sure their dogs or puppies are up-to-date on vaccinations.
Distemper is preventable with a vaccine that is highly effective, according to AHS.
Officials say it is crucial that pet owners vaccinate their pets beginning with booster shots for puppies every three to four weeks from six to 20 weeks of age, and then annually bases on recommendations from their veterinarian for the rest of their lives.
To schedule an appointment for vaccinations, click here.