Wintertime on Vancouver Island is filled with an assortment of weather fronts ranging from rain to the odd snowstorm, keeping our average temperature between 5 degrees and -5 degrees.
Some of our canine companions love to frolic in the snow dusting the ground, while others will tiptoe around, making a vast attempt to stay clear of it. Our family loves to go out for walks in the snow when it visits, but our dog ‘LB’ (a 10 lb Boston Terrier cross) prefers to stay inside when there is snow on the ground.
Puppies can particularly love the snow. As your veterinarian has said, vaccinating regularly is very important to prevent disease and sickness. One of the illnesses that puppies and dogs can be susceptible to is Canine Distemper and this condition can be fatal. Puppies, mainly from 3-6 months of age can be most at risk.
This virus can be easily transmitted if a dog comes in contact with nasal discharge, feces or urine from another dog infected with Canine Distemper. The symptoms can range from high fever, eye and nose discharge, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fortunately, the virus can be destroyed in the hospital environment by cleaning with appropriate disinfectants, which is good for our veterinary staff, patients and clients.
While speaking to a staff member at work, then consulting the great Wikipedia, I learned that the Canine Distemper could survive for long periods of time in a cool and damp environment slightly above the zero degrees, very similar to the temperature we see here on Southern Vancouver Island most of the winter. This means that if a dog infected with the virus could have contaminated the trail or area you go walking with your dog and he/she may come in contact with the virus.
The good news is that vaccinating your puppy starting at 8 weeks, and repeating at 12 and 16 weeks can give your puppy the protection it needs. Keeping your adult dog up to date on his or her vaccines will help keep illness at bay if a breakout occurs in our area.