Posted on: February 9, 2023 Posted by: Petsynse Comments: 0

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Person holding vaccination shot in front of a black dog's face

Taking your puppy or dog to the vet to get their shots is part of being a responsible dog owner. It is one of the best ways to help your dog achieve a long and healthy life by preventing the risk of contracting serious infections. One essential vaccine for all dogs is the DHPP 5-in-1 vaccine. But what does DHPP stand for? What are the differences between the different distemper combo vaccines available? Here’s what pet parents should know about the DHPP shot for dogs, what diseases it protects against, and how often your dog needs to get it.

Table Of Contents

What Is The DHPP Vaccine For Dogs?


Vaccines are a type of medicine that train your dog’s immune system to fight a disease it has not come into contact with before. Vaccines contain a small amount of virus, or a piece of the virus, to stimulate your dog’s immune system into making immune cells or antibodies that are then stored or remembered if your dog was to encounter the live virus. Vaccines are designed to prevent a disease rather than treat it once your dog has caught it.

The distemper combo vaccine is typically referred to by its acronym (DHPP, DAPP, DA2PP, or DAPPC) to indicate the diseases it protects against. This vaccine provides immunity for canine distemper virus (indicated by the letter D), two types of adenoviruses that cause canine infectious hepatitis (names A, A2, or H), parainfluenza (P), and parvovirus (P).

DAPPC vaccine also provides immunity for canine coronavirus (C). This is a respiratory virus that is a component of the ‘kennel cough’ syndrome. It is not considered a core vaccine or included in all vaccination schedules.

Is DHPP Vaccine Necessary For Dogs?

The DHPP vaccine is a core vaccine for dogs, which is recommended for all dogs, regardless of lifestyle. The DHPP vaccine protects against a number of serious viral illnesses in dogs which can cause severe outbreaks and mortality in dogs without vaccination.

DAPP vs DHPP – What’s The Difference?

Yes! There are different brands of vaccines made by different pharmaceutical manufacturers, and each has a slightly different acronym. Some brands of vaccine abbreviate using an ‘A’ for adenovirus, whereas others use an ‘H’ for canine hepatitis. However, they all provide immunity to the same diseases. These illnesses include:

Canine Distemper Virus

Canine distemper is a virus that spreads between dogs through direct contact, respiratory droplets, or contaminated surfaces such as toys, bedding, and bowls. The virus attacks many organs in your dog’s body, including the lungs, intestines, and nervous system. Symptoms start as a high fever, coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea and progress to cause pneumonia, seizures, and even death. It is highly contagious and progresses rapidly, often becoming fatal in young puppies or dogs with a weakened immune system.

Canine Adenovirus (CAV)

CAV-1, or infectious canine hepatitis, is a highly contagious virus affecting your dog’s liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. Symptoms include jaundice, high fever, abdominal pain, eye inflammation, and bleeding disorders. If left untreated, the condition can quickly become fatal. CAV-2 is generally a milder adenovirus than CAV-1 and commonly causes upper respiratory tract signs such as coughing or nasal discharge. CAV-2 is a component of canine ‘Kennel cough’ syndrome.

Canine Parainfluenza

Parainfluenza is a flu virus that results in kennel cough. It causes fever, coughing, and nasal congestion. It can spread quickly between dogs via the air and respiratory droplets. It is particularly contagious between dogs housed together, such as in boarding kennels or multi-dog homes.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a serious, highly contagious condition that can be fatal for many dogs, particularly puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs. The virus attacks your dog’s gastrointestinal tract causing severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Affected dogs require intensive hospitalization. The virus can survive for long periods (up to one year) in the environment and is resistant to many common disinfectants.

DHPP Vaccine Schedule – How Many Shots Do Puppies Need

The vaccine schedule varies slightly depending on the brand of vaccination used, your puppy’s age, the level of risk in the area you live in, and the country you live in. Your veterinarian can advise you on the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your puppy or adult dog.

The DHPP vaccine includes 5 viruses, but this is just one shot. Primary vaccination may begin as early as 6 weeks of age, and a second dose is given 2-4 weeks later. Generally, two doses are required for primary immunization.

DHPP Vaccine Side Effects

Vaccinations are designed to stimulate your dog’s immune system, so mild side effects are common, including:

  • Pain or swelling at the injection site
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mild fever

For most dogs, these signs are very mild and barely noticeable. Your puppy or adult dog can resume normal activities straight after their vaccination appointment. They may just be quieter than normal for a day or two.

Serious side effects are rare and indicate an allergic reaction. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Hives
  • Facial swelling

Thankfully, allergic reactions following vaccination are very rare. If your dog is experiencing any of these side effects within 48 hours of vaccination, contact your veterinarian immediately.

How Long Does DHPP Vaccine Last?

The length of time your dog’s immune system remembers the viruses that have been vaccinated against and can release antibodies is variable. It is likely to vary between individuals and decline gradually rather than suddenly. A booster vaccination is required for dogs every 1-3 years throughout their lifetime. The frequency depends on the brand of vaccine, your dog’s level of risk, and the country you live in. Your veterinarian can advise on the most suitable vaccination schedule for your dog.

DHPP Vaccine Cost

Budgeting for your dog’s vaccinations and annual veterinary exams is an important part of dog ownership. The cost of vaccination depends on what you are vaccinating against and what is included in the annual examination. The DHPP vaccine cost ranges from $40 to $100 in North America. Some veterinary practices offer wellness programs that include the costs of vaccinations, and certain charities and pet organizations offer low-cost vaccination clinics for pet owners.

Other Vaccines Needed

The DHPP vaccine provides essential, life-saving disease protection for your dog and the wider canine community helping to reduce the spread of these severe infections. Keeping your dog up to date with this vaccine will hopefully help them live a long and happy life. So, don’t delay. Get your dog booked in for his shots, it may just save his life. Learn more about what vaccines are recommended for dogs, puppy vaccination schedule, and find out if pet insurance covers vaccines.

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