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Can Indoor Dogs Get Canine Distemper Virus?

canine distemper virus

Most pet parents are aware of or at least have heard of the infamous Canine Distemper Virus. Being one of the most notorious and severe canine diseases out there, it is undoubtedly something that pet parents are on the constant lookout for. This viral disease can cause serious health problems and alarming symptoms that affect multiple body systems. 

Since the virus is spread through indirect or direct contact with an infected dog, some pet parents wonder if indoor dogs, who have less exposure to the outside world, are also at risk.


Is It Possible For Indoor Dogs To Get Canine Distemper Virus?

People say indoor dogs don’t need to be vaccinated as they are safe against infectious diseases, like Canine Distemper. While living a sheltered and indoor lifestyle is undoubtedly safer than living outdoors, contagious diseases can still find their way through a person’s doors.

All dogs, including indoor ones, are at risk of getting infected. Pups younger than four months old and unvaccinated older dogs are most susceptible to the virus due to their weaker immune systems.

Not allowing them to get a dog distemper vaccine means they are still at risk of acquiring the virus. It doesn’t matter if they don’t leave the house. That doesn’t mean much if the virus itself enters through the front doors via an infected inanimate object the pet owner brings home. 


How Can Indoor Dogs Get Canine Distemper Virus?

Canine Distemper Virus is an infectious and severe disease that can attack a puppy or dog’s gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. It is an airborne disease that a dog can acquire by being exposed to an infected animal when it coughs or sneezes.

With how fast and easy the virus can spread, no dog is safe from it. That includes indoor dogs.


An indoor dog can acquire the virus in two ways:

  • Through airborne exposure
  • Through direct contact with infected animals or objects

The virus can spread through airborne exposure or direct contact, much like how humans spread common colds to others. When an infected animal coughs, barks, or sneezes, they release aerosol droplets into the air, which can instantly infect any nearby animal and surface.

The most common way for an indoor dog to get infected is when a human they live with accidentally brings home an infected object – like shoes or clothes. Since the transmission does not require direct contact with another dog, the indoor pet can be easily exposed and become infected if they are not appropriately vaccinated.

The good news; the distemper virus doesn’t survive long in the environment. It can be destroyed instantly with disinfectants. The bad news is that infected dogs can carry the virus for several months, putting more dogs around them at risk of getting infected. 


How To Prevent Indoor Dogs From Getting Canine Distemper Virus?

canine distemper virus

Prevention is always the best medicine or cure. While canine distemper is not curable, it is still preventable. A dog owner can take several preventive measures to ensure that their indoor dog prevents exposure to this virus.


1. Ensure that they are fully-vaccinated

Vaccination is a crucial element of canine distemper prevention. Just because a dog or puppy doesn’t go outdoors doesn’t mean they’re safe from the disease. As mentioned, young puppies are incredibly susceptible to infection. Notably, the natural immunity given by their mothers’ milk may wear off before their immune systems are mature or developed enough to fight off infection.

A series of vaccinations are necessary to optimally defend against the virus and narrow the gaps in protection during a pup’s first few months. Pet parents must exercise caution until they receive the complete vaccination series. On the other hand, pet parents with adult dogs must ensure that their distemper vaccination is up-to-date to protect them from the virus.


2. Avoid contact with an infected dog

The dog is not the only one who should practice caution when interacting with an infected animal. An indoor dog’s most likely source of exposure to canine distemper is an infected inanimate object.

So, a pet owner with an indoor dog should be extra careful and vigilant when they’re outdoors. They need to avoid socializing with puppies or unvaccinated dogs at parks, malls, or other places where dogs can congregate.


3. Disinfect before entering the house

Before stepping into the house, pet owners must thoroughly disinfect their clothes, bags, shoes, and hands. It’s so they can remove any possible trace of the virus on their person. If possible, pet owners should avoid interacting with their house dogs until they change their clothes.


How To Treat Indoor Dogs With Canine Distemper Virus?

If an indoor dog displays symptoms of Canine Distemper, it would be best to take them to the vet. Before that, make sure to give the clinic a proper heads-up so they can prepare to take a potentially infected dog in.

Veterinarians diagnose the virus through clinical appearance and laboratory testing. As of present, there is still no cure for the infection. 

Canine distemper treatment consists of supportive efforts and care to avoid secondary infections. Note that you have to separate infected dogs from other pets to reduce and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.



It is not true that an indoor dog is immune to infectious diseases, like Canine Distemper Virus, just because they live and spend most of their time inside the comfort of their pet parent’s home. The virus can still enter through the door like an unwanted guest. If they’re unvaccinated, they are at as much risk as outdoor dogs.

Those with indoor dogs should exercise caution and devise preventive measures to ensure their pet is not at risk of virus exposure.

Being a responsible pet parent means knowing everything about a dog’s health and the diseases that can affect it. For dog owners, that includes learning about canine distemper. Visit Doobert’s website now to learn how to care for and save more dogs!

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