We investigated the expression of microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3) protein in the cerebellums of dogs infected with canine distemper virus (CDV) using immunohistochemistry to detect autophagy. The cerebellums of 20 dogs infected with CDV were used. Specimens showing demyelination of white matter were considered to have an acute infection, whereas specimens showing signs of severe perivascular cuffing and demyelination of white matter were classified as having chronic CDV. Cerebellar sections were immunostained with CDV and LC3 antibodies. The cytoplasm of Purkinje cells, granular layer cells, motor neurons in large cerebellar ganglia and some neurons in white matter were positive for the LC3 antibody in both the control and CDV-infected dogs. In the infected cerebellums, however, white matter was immunostained more intensely, particularly the neurons and gemistocytic astrocytes in the demyelinated areas, compared to controls. Autophagy also was demonstrated in CDV-positive cells using double immunofluorescence staining. Our findings indicate that increased autophagy in the cerebellum of dogs naturally infected with CDV may play a role in transferring the virus from cell to cell.