Vaccine Highlight: DHPP


“The DHPP is a combination vaccine that prevents four different viruses: canine distemper, infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. It’s actually a series of vaccines that your puppy will receive 3 times between six and sixteen weeks old. They’ll be given a combination vaccine booster one year after the series is completed and then additional boosters every three years throughout adulthood.

Distemper: Canine distemper is a highly contagious virus that has no cure, which is why vaccinating against it is so important. It’s spread through the air and by contact with an infected animal, either directly or indirectly. The virus starts in the tonsils and lymph nodes. From there, it attacks the respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.

Early symptoms include a high fever, red eyes, and discharge from both the nose and eyes. A dog infected with this virus will soon become lethargic and lose their appetite. They may also suffer from prolonged and persistent coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea. When the virus moves to the nervous system, it attacks the brain and spinal cord which leads to seizures or paralysis. Dogs with weak immune systems like puppies and older dogs could die within two to five weeks after becoming sick.

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment focuses on managing the symptoms, like IV fluids to prevent dehydration or medication to control any seizure activity. A healthy dog with a weak strain of the virus can recover, though some of the nervous system effects will take months to go away.

Infectious Hepatitis: The canine adenovirus starts as an upper respiratory infection that targets the functional parts of various organs. Once it moves from the tonsils to the bloodstream, it settles in the liver. It uses the body’s own cells to replicate and quickly spreads through the liver. It will spread to other organs, too, primarily the kidney.

A healthy dog will be able to get rid of the virus in about two weeks, but it will remain in the kidneys and continue to shed through urine for up to 9 months. That means any unvaccinated dog that comes in close contact will be exposed to the disease.

If a dog is unable to clear the virus on his own, he’ll develop chronic hepatitis as the virus remains in the liver. It will lead to eye injuries where the front of the eye gets inflamed and caused the telltale “hepatitis blue eye.”

Symptoms range from lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and abdominal pain in mild infections to bleeding disorders to coagulation disorders, bruises, swelling, and swollen lymph nodes. Treatment is usually done on an inpatient basis to replace fluid and electrolytes, treat any blood clotting problems, and monitor progress.

Parainfluenza: Parainfluenza is a virus that’s spread easily, especially in places with high dog populations like kennels or doggy daycares. All dogs are susceptible, though. Puppies and older dogs typically have a more difficult time recovering.

While parainfluenza virus is often mistaken for kennel cough but there are actually some significant differences. Kennel cough does not have any other symptoms while the parainfluenza virus can also present with a lot of things other than respiratory symptoms, including fever, runny eyes, loss of appetite, and lethargy. There’s also a risk for pneumonia.

Treatment consists of isolating the dog so the virus doesn’t spread. Antibiotics and antivirals are often given to try to eliminate the risk of exposing other dogs to the illness.

Parvovirus: Parvovirus can affect your dog in two different ways. One way is that it can attack the GI systems. This is the more common way. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and weight loss.

The other more serious form is when the virus attacks the cardiac muscles of young puppies which often can lead to death. It affects them most between the ages of six weeks and six months. This is the same time period when the vaccination is given which is why it has significantly reduced the incidence of parvovirus in young puppies.

Signs of a GI infection include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, a loss of appetite, vomiting, and weight loss. Dogs can quickly become dehydrated. There’s no cure and treatment focused on managing symptoms. Unfortunately, this virus can be pretty severe and only has a 70% survival rate.

Getting the DHPP vaccine can spare your dog a lot of pain and protect them from the long-term effects of these viruses. It could even save his life and the lives of any dogs that he comes in contact with. While a lot of the symptoms are treatable, the risks are just too high. The only way to keep your dog safe from these terrible illnesses is to make sure your dog is vaccinated.” –


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