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Care Guide

About Care Guides[x] These care guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions, tests, and procedures, as well as to provide basic information about pet care. They are based on the most up-to-date, documented information, recommendations, and guidelines available in the United States at the time of writing. Pharmaceutical product licensing, availability, and usage recommendations are based on US product information. Use the Download Handout button to generate a PDF for printing or e-mailing to your clients.

Canine Distemper/Parvo Combo Vaccine

    • 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 their clinical signs.

    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, most canine distemper vaccines protect against 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. This vaccine protects against canine adenovirus-2 and adenovirus-1 and 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, or "not recommended," meaning that widespread use is not generally recommended.

    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 categorized as "not recommended" but may be advised 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 considered noncore but may be recommended in areas where leptospirosis is common.

    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.

    Reviewed December 2011