Canine Distemper/Parvo Bordetella and Rabies Vaccine

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • The canine distemper vaccine is typically given in some variation of a combination vaccine that also protects your pet from several other serious diseases, such as parvovirus infection.
  • Many of the diseases that are prevented by this combination vaccine have no effective treatment other than supportive care; however, vaccination can prevent these diseases or minimize the signs of illness.
  • Other vaccines, such as the rabies and Bordetella vaccines, may be given in addition to the canine distemper/parvo combination vaccine.

What Is a Canine Distemper/Parvo Vaccination?

While commonly called canine distemper vaccination, this vaccine typically protects your pet against more than just distemper. That’s because it is actually a combination of vaccines in one injection that will protect your pet from several serious diseases.

Canine distemper is considered a core vaccine. This means that, because canine distemper is a serious, highly contagious disease with a high death rate, organized veterinary medicine has determined that all dogs should be protected from this disease.

The exact combination of your dog’s distemper combination vaccine depends on your dog’s age and individual disease-risk profile, but in general, the most important diseases to protect against are canine distemper, canine adenovirus-2 infection (hepatitis and respiratory disease), canine parvovirus infection, and parainfluenza. The abbreviation for this combination vaccine is frequently written as “DHPPV,” “DHPP,” “DA2PP,” or “DA2PPV” on your pet’s health records. The letters in these abbreviations are defined as follows:

  • D = Canine distemper virus. Infection with this virus is serious, with a death rate approaching 50% in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the respiratory, digestive, and brain/nervous systems of dogs.
  • H = Hepatitis. Since this vaccine protects against canine adenovirus-2 and adenovirus-1, it is often referred to as A2. Canine adenovirus-1 causes canine infectious hepatitis, a serious disease that affects the liver.
  • Canine adenovirus-2 causes respiratory disease and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough.
  • A2 = Canine adenovirus-2. This virus causes a respiratory disease in dogs (see above).
  • P = Parvovirus. Infection with this virus is highly contagious and serious, with a death rate approaching 90% in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the digestive and immune systems of unvaccinated animals, causing debilitating diarrhea and vomiting.
  • P = Parainfluenza. This is a mild respiratory viral disease in dogs. V = Virus.

Therefore, a notation of “DA2PPV,” “DA2PP,” “DHPP,” or “DHPPV” in your pet’s vaccination record generally means that your pet was vaccinated against canine distemper, hepatitis (canine adenovirus-2 and -1), parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

Other Distemper Combination Vaccines

Depending on your dog’s individual disease risk, which includes your dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and lifestyle (active and outdoors or primarily indoors), your pet’s combination vaccine may protect against additional diseases. Some of these vaccines are considered noncore, meaning they are optional and only recommended for pets with certain exposure risks.

The “C” in “DA2PPV-C” and the “L” in “DA2PPV-L” are defined as follows: 

  • C = Coronavirus. This causes a highly contagious viral disease in dogs. The disease typically affects the intestinal tract of dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Vaccination against this virus is generally considered noncore (optional) but may be recommended in areas where coronavirus is very common.
  • L = Leptospirosis. This potentially serious bacterial disease attacks the kidneys and liver of infected dogs and can be transmitted to humans. Vaccination against this disease is generally considered noncore but may be recommended in areas where leptospirosis is common.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterium that causes respiratory disease in dogs. It is one of the most common bacterial causes of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, which is also sometimes called kennel cough. Bordetella is highly contagious, easily transmitted through direct contact or the air, and resistant to destruction in the environment. While not considered to be core, Bordetella vaccination may be recommended for dogs whose lifestyle places them at greater risk of contracting the disease. This includes dogs that are boarded frequently or that regularly visit grooming parlors or dog parks. Based on your dog’s risk for exposure, your veterinarian may recommend vaccinating your dog against Bordetella in addition to administering the canine distemper combination vaccine.

Rabies

Rabies is a 100% fatal disease of mammals. Because there is no effective treatment and the disease can also infect humans, vaccination against the rabies virus is required by law in most states. Typically, the rabies vaccine is administered to pets in a separate injection at the same time as the canine distemper combination vaccine. However, the rabies vaccine can also be given alone (at a separate visit) or at the same time as other vaccines (such as the Lyme disease vaccine). Rabies is considered to be a core vaccine for dogs.

It is important to remember that vaccination is a medical procedure and you should follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to monitor your pet for signs of a reaction. Although rare, they can occur.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.

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