CDV-Exposed Dogs

Memphis Animal Services is currently experiencing a high volume of dogs with mild to severe respiratory signs such as nasal discharge, coughing, and decreased appetite.

There are many factors that lead to an uptick in illness in shelters, and Memphis Animal Services has been experiencing the two most critical factors for over a year:
• Prolonged Length of Stay: Pets are staying in our care longer, increasing their risk of illness as well as fear, anxiety, and stress
• Operating over our Capacity for Care: There are more pets in our care than we have the space, staff, and other resources to truly meet their needs.

While MAS is always faced with the challenge of too many pets coming in and not enough pets going out, we are currently managing several additional complicating factors:
• This is our busiest time of the year for intake
• Many of our rescue partners are also experiencing increased Length of Stay and are over their Capacity for Care

Canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), also known as “kennel cough” is a highly contagious illness that affects the respiratory tract of dogs. While all breeds and ages of dogs are susceptible, dogs housed in multiple dog settings such as shelters, kennels, and doggie day cares are at higher risk. Several different types of bacteria and viruses can lead to CIRDC. Dogs can even be infected with two or more of these organisms at the same time.

Based on our ongoing internal investigation, our biggest concern at this time is an organism called Canine Distemper Virus (CDV). CDV causes a myriad of symptoms including fever, upper respiratory signs, pneumonia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some pets may develop neurological signs, including seizures, around one month after showing respiratory signs. Neurological signs can even occur one to three months after infection for pets that never showed clinical signs of illness.

CDV is included in all combination vaccines that your dog receives at your veterinarian’s office, and MAS vaccinates every dog that comes into our care at the time of intake. Just one vaccine can provide years to lifelong immunity for some pets. Please note that vaccines take time to work, and the shelter population is full of dogs of all ages that have not previously been vaccinated.

Unlike heartworms or parvovirus, there is no “patient side” test for Canine Distemper Virus, so all samples must be sent to an outside laboratory.  It can take up to 3 to 5 days to receive test results. Our staff is working diligently to test more of our population so that we can minimize the risk of exposing more dogs to CDV.

CDV Release
Distemper – English
Disemper – Spanish