California Fish and Wildlife officers say there have been unusually high statewide numbers of canine distemper cases in the California wildlife.
They warn that unvaccinated pet dogs can catch the deadly disease through contact with food and water bowls that wildlife has access to.
Canine distemper is a horrible, deadly disease that besides companion dogs can also affect foxes, raccoons, skunks, and coyotes. Even dogs that recover are often left with neurological problems.
Get your dog vaccinated!
Distemper is one of the core vaccines that veterinarians give pet dogs. It is generally effective but must be given authorities are warning pet owners of an unusually high number of canine distemper virus cases in wildlife populations statewide.
Dogs can be vaccinated as early as six weeks of age. This is especially important because puppies are at higher risk of becoming infected.
Puppies should have their first distemper vaccine or shot at six to eight weeks old, then have the vaccine boostered every two to four weeks until they are sixteen weeks of age.
After this initial set of puppy shots, they will need a booster at one year of age, then another booster every one to three years for the rest of their lives.
Older dogs will need to receive at least two vaccines, two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster vaccine in one year and then every one to three years thereafter.