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.