Canine distemper, also known as hard pad, is spread by close contact with an infected dog. It can cause mild symptoms, such as lethargy, and in other dogs it can prove fatal.
Dogs most at risk are those less than one year old, although it can still be contracted by any dog with a weakened immune system.
Symptoms include signs of a cold, runny nose and eyes, and coughing. This will be followed by vomiting and diarrhoea. As the disease progresses, a hardening of the dog's pads (hard pad) and possibly his nose as well, will appear.
A blood test will confirm severe reduction in the white blood cells of the affected animal.
Intravenous fluids are sometimes given to reduce dehydration after vomiting and diarrhoea, but there is no real cure for this disease and it can be fatal.
The only way to deal with this horrible disease is to prevent it happening in the first place, by vaccinating your puppy before he goes outside, except in your own garden.
Whilst early socialisation is important for your puppy's social development, remember that hard pad is contracted from close nose to nose contact with an infected dog. Whilst your puppy should see other dogs, it is vital that they do not get too close until they are fully vaccinated.