Dear Daisy Dog: My dog, Buster, gets his distemperament shot every year, but his temperament is still bad, so I assume the vaccine doesn’t work. What should I do?
Daisy Responds: Buster’s behavior problems are not related to the disease we call distemper, despite its name.
If Buster is misbehaving, join an obedience training class taught by a certified dog trainer. If his behavior doesn’t improve, ask your vet to refer you to a veterinarian who specializes in behavior problems.
The vaccination Buster receives protects him from several infectious diseases, one of which is distemper.
The distemper virus most often attacks the dog’s respiratory tract, causing nasal discharge, coughing, conjunctivitis, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and sometimes pneumonia. Vomiting, diarrhea, foot pad thickening and blindness also can occur, as can seizures and other neurological problems.
Droplets from an infected animal’s nose or mouth spread the virus. Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at greatest risk, and they don’t even have to come into contact with an infected dog. Ferrets, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bears with distemper spread the disease, too.
So continue Buster’s distemper vaccinations, and enlist the help of a trainer and possibly a veterinary behaviorist to improve his behavior.