Dear Dr. Gaddy,
My 7-year old Chihuahua has been vaccinated for distemper every year, but she is still bad. Is this vaccine not working?
– Kelly: Jackson, NJ
I’m sorry to hear about your naughty pup. I often hear pet owners say that the distemper vaccine is not helping their dogs temperament. This is actually a common misunderstanding about this vaccine. The “distemper” vaccine actually protects your pet against a number of different diseases, depending on which vaccine your vet uses. We call it the “distemper vaccine” for short or as a nickname because the Distemper virus is one of the viruses this vaccine protects against. This disease can affect many different body systems, including the brain, respiratory and digestive systems. When affected, dogs can experience fever, loss of appetite, respiratory infection, vomiting and diarrhea, or even seizures and abnormal gait.
So despite its name, the Distemper virus is likely not the cause of your dog’s bad behavior. However, there may be something you can do to help your pup. I recommend consulting with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist to help determine the root of the problem and the best way to correct it.