Firefox - Safer, Faster, Better

The DHPPC Vaccination For Your Dog

Randy Walker DVM

About Vaccinations...

Vaccinations are an important part of your dog's preventive health program. At Sun Lakes Animal Clinic the two main areas of vaccination we emphasize for dogs are the Rabies vaccination (required by law) and the DHPPC vaccination (also called the distemper shot, distemper/parvo shot, puppy shot, or 6-way shot).

What Do The Letters DHPPC Stand For?






Briefly, Describe Each Of These Diseases.

DISTEMPER is a very severe, contagious disease caused by a virus. It's passed from dog to dog through aerosolized (meaning sneezed) droplets. The first signs of distemper are usually those of an upper respiratory infection (resembling a bad cold) with coughing, sneezing, runny eyes, and runny nose. Then, in over 50% of cases, the virus travels to the brain where it causes various types of seizures and other problems with the nervous system. Many patients afflicted with distemper will develop a severe and often fatal pneumonia (especially if not treated with antibiotics) secondary to tile upper respiratory infection. In those patients who develop seizures from distemper, death occurs in the majority of cases. Permanent brain and nerve damage is common in those dogs who recover from distemper. The good news is that, in adequately vaccinated dogs (complete puppy series and yearly boosters), distemper is quite rare.

HEPATITIS is a contagious disease of the liver in dogs (called Canine Viral Hepatitis) and is caused by a virus. Clinical signs of canine hepatitis will vary from patient to patient and range from very mild illness in some cases to severe vomiting with intense abdominal pain, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, high fever, bloody stool and death within 12-24 hours in other cases. Veterinary scientists also theorize that a significant number of cases of chronic liver failure in older dogs are due to infection with the Canine Hepatitis Virus earlier in life. The Hepatitis virus comes in two basic strains (called Canine Adenovirus type I and Canine Adenovirus type II). The type I strain of the virus is mainly responsible for causing Hepatitis (liver disease) while the type II virus results in upper respiratory tract disease (commonly called "Kennel Cough"). Most vaccines on the market protect against both of these strains so we are guarding against both hepatitis and one of the causes of Kennel Cough.

PARVO is a very severe disease of dogs which affects the intestinal tract. Parvo first appeared in 1978 and quickly spread all over tile world, now being famous as one of the most contagious and deadly diseases of dogs. Parvo is caused by a virus. This virus needs rapidly dividing cells to reproduce itself and the rapidly dividing cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of young puppies is the prime target of Parvo. Parvo virus can live outside the body in a dormant yet infectious state for one to two years. Puppies do not have to be in direct contact with other dogs to catch Parvo since this hardy virus can be spread by people's clothing, shoes, and other inanimate surfaces, and can even travel on the dust in the air. A dog (or puppy) who is shedding the Parvo virus can defecate (go to the bathroom) on a surface and then a susceptible puppy can come by and sniff or lick this surface over a year later and can still catch Parvo. Common disinfectants (such as Lysol, Chlorhexidine, Lysterine, rubbing alcohol, etc.) will not kill Parvo. The only two common things around the home that will kill Parvo outright are fire (burning contaminated blankets, etc) and a dilute Clorox solution (one part Clorox to 32 parts water).

The symptoms of Parvo are severe vomiting and diarrhea (often with blood in it) along with extreme weakness and dehydration. Parvo literally destroys the lining of the GI tract, allowing bacteria to infect the bloodstream (a serious condition called septicemia). Although veterinary medicine has made tremendous progress in the treatment of Parvo in recent years and many puppies are being saved, Parvo should still be considered an extremely serious and often fatal disease. When puppies die from Parvo, it's usually due to the combined effects of dehydration, upset in the pH balance of the blood, and septicemia. The symptoms with Parvo are remarkably similar to, and as severe as, those of people with radiation sickness (such as from nuclear fallout) with tile difference being that recovery is usually complete (meaning with no lasting side effects) in those puppies who recover from Parvo. Although preventive health measures such as vaccination has created much progress in the fight against Parvo, it is still quite common (an epidemic, in fact) across the nation and the world.

PARAINFLUENZA is a viral disease of dogs and is one of the main infectious agents (along with Bordetella bronchiseptica, Adenovirus type II, etc) contributing to Kennel Cough syndrome. As mentioned before, Kennel Cough (technically referred to as Infectious Tracheobronchitis or Canine Cough) is a highly contagious disease which is spread through aerosolized droplets from coughing and sneezing of affected dogs. Although often a mild disease with (usually) complete recovery, Kennel Cough should be avoided when possible because the nagging cough can be distressing to both dog and owner and can lead to more serious problems. There are several viruses and bacteria which usually work together to produce Kennel Cough and we have vaccines for three of them. Two of these (Adenovirus Type II and Parainfluenza virus) are in our DHPPC vaccination while the other cause of Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica) is a separate vaccination.

CORONA is a contagious virus of dogs and is the second most serious cause of virus induced diarrhea (behind Parvo). Although Corona and Parvo are similar in some respects, they differ in that Corona usually results in a milder illness (which still can be fairly severe in its own right but not nearly as terrible as Parvo). Dogs usually take longer to recover from Corona with a typical case often lasting one to two weeks (as compared to Parvo where the patient is usually either dead or well on the way to recovery within 4-7 days).

Since Only 5 Diseases Are Listed, Why Is The DHPPC Vaccine Commonly Called A "6-Way Shot"?

Because the Hepatitis portion of the vaccination (a virus called Adenovirus Type II) guards against both Canine Hepatitis and one form of Kennel Cough, thereby protecting against two diseases in addition to the other 4 listed.

How Old Should A Puppy Be Before Receiving The First DHPPC Vaccination?

6 weeks old.

What Is The Protocol For The Rest Of The Puppy Series After The Initial Vaccination At 6 Weeks Of Age?

After the initial DHPPC vaccination we then booster the vaccination every 3 weeks until the patient is 18 weeks old. This means we booster at 9, 12, 15, and 18 weeks of age. Your regular vet may have a different schedule depending on the conditions in your local area.

How Often Should The DHPPC Vaccination Be Boostered In The adult dog?


What Are The Potential Side Effects With The DHPPC Vaccine?

The most common side effects we see are similar to those seen with children when they have their vaccinations. These include mild fever (usually 1 or 2 degrees above normal); malaise (just wants to lay around - little energy); loss of appetite; stiff muscles and joints; wants to sleep, and is a little cranky.

These symptoms are usually mild and can last one or two days after the vaccination. We see these symptoms in about 10-20% of the patients we vaccinate, with the other 80-90% acting no differently after the vaccination. Although we don't want the patient to be uncomfortable, these symptoms can be a good sign to an extent because they show us that the body is recognizing the diseases in our vaccine and is forming a good immune response to them. These mild symptoms are usually no cause for alarm.

In a few rare instances dogs can have severe allergic reactions to vaccines just as they can with any medicine, nutritional supplement, or food product taken into the body. The symptoms we see with these rare cases of severe allergic reactions (called anaphylaxis) are extreme pallor (paleness), disorientation, dizziness, staggering, shock and sometimes death if not treated with emergency medicines. I should emphasize that these reactions are rare and I would speculate that more people are hit by lightening each year than dogs who have anaphylactic reactions to vaccines. In one of these rare instances, however, when these signs are seen, you should bring the pet in immediately so that medications can be given to reverse this reaction. Usually, if such a reaction is to occur, it will happen within a few minutes after the vaccine is given.

- Randy Walker DVM
Sun Lakes Animal Clinic
May 14,2004

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France, 1921 Nobel Prize Speech -

Titlebar Image: The Gentle Doctor, 1937-38 by Christian Peterson (U84.179) - Iowa State University