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A small dog on a vet‘s table

The essentials

  • DHPP is a combination five-in-one vaccination. This vaccination replaces the need for your dog to receive separate vaccinations to protect them against five serious illnesses.
  • DHPP is considered a core vaccination. No matter what lifestyle your dog will lead, DHPP is considered essential to any dog’s overall health.  
  • DHPP is necessary to protect your pets. Puppies and adult dogs who are actively social with other dogs and animals are strongly advised to receive this vaccine.

Love for your pup is more than cuddles, long walks, and treats. As a dog owner, love is also making sure preventative measures are taken to protect your pet against serious illnesses with the proper vaccines. DHPP is one of the most common vaccines for dogs, but why is it so important to your pet’s health?

What is the DHPP vaccine?

The DHPP vaccine, also called DHPP, DAPP, or DA2PP, is considered a “core” vaccine, meaning it is essential to your dog’s preventative health care. This differs from lifestyle vaccines, which are recommended if a pet spends most of their time outdoors, attends daycare, or is in direct contact or areas with other dogs. The DHPP vaccine protects against serious health illnesses that they could be exposed to during their lifetime. DHPP is a five-in-one combination vaccine allowing your pup to receive one prick instead of separate shots. Many vaccinations prescribed by veterinarians are covered by pet insurance.

What does it prevent?

DHPP stands for the viruses it prevents:

D – Distemper

H – Hepatitis/adenovirus

P – Parvo

P- Parainfluenza

D – Distemper

Also known as canine distemper virus, this virus is commonly spread from dog to dog through play, shared toys, or surfaces. This virus can cause vomiting, coughing, diarrhea, or runny/watery nose and eyes. In more serious cases, the canine distemper virus can also lead to pneumonia, seizures, or paralysis. Like most viruses, dogs with weak immune systems are at high risk — puppies and older dogs.

H – Hepatitis/adenovirus

Also known as canine adenovirus CAV-1 (hepatitis) and CAV-2 (adenovirus), CAV-1 is highly contagious and the most severe of the two. The virus attacks the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes. Mild symptoms include congestion, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. More severe cases report symptoms like jaundice, bruising, pain in the abdominal area, and eye inflammation. If strains of the virus are left untreated, it can become fatal. Dogs with weak immune systems are most at risk.

CAV-2 is less severe and is the virus that leads to the common dog cold known as kennel cough which causes hacking and coughing. Left untreated, this virus can lead to other more severe illnesses or serious diseases. The spread of the virus is commonly seen in high-traffic areas like daycares and dog parks.

P – Parvo/parainfluenza

Also known as canine parainfluenza and canine parvovirus, both viruses are highly contagious. Parainfluenza, like the flu in humans, is highly contagious and causes coughing and congestion. This virus can spread quickly in high-traffic, multi-dog areas and all dogs are susceptible to this airborne exposure.

The areas in which your dog could come into contact with the parvovirus or parvo are hard to determine. This virus can live on surfaces, and even soil, for up to one year. This virus, when contracted, attacks your dog’s gastrointestinal tract causing diarrhea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite. This virus can be fatal and most dangerous to puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs.

Prevention of these five viruses also protects your dog against other pathogens, viruses, and diseases that these viruses could lead to.

The advantages of DHPP vaccines for dogs

While your source of truth should always be your dog’s veterinarian, we’re here to help explain the commonly recommended timeline for your dog’s treatment options. If the DHPP vaccine’s five-in-one approach is how you choose to move forward, it is recommended that puppies at least six weeks of age should receive their first DHPP vaccine and continually for two to four weeks until your dog reaches 16 weeks.

Following that, your dog will only need to receive their vaccine booster every one to two years. For adult dogs who have not previously been vaccinated, the initial doses are reduced and can be determined by your veterinarian. But their vaccine boosters will also range from one to two years.

So, why choose a combination vaccine over individual shots for each type of virus or disease?

  • A single shot versus five — As previously mentioned, the most obvious reason is to lessen the number of pricks your dog will have to receive in one vet visit. This makes vet visits easier for pet parents with squeamish dogs.
  • Easier access and easier on your wallet — Finding a vaccine to cover each virus separately can be a challenge. If you sought out five separate vaccines over one, your price of care would also increase.

Side effects

As with any vaccine, there are side effects your pup may experience after their shot. While there is a wide range of symptoms, side effects from the DHPP, for the majority of cases are most commonly mild and similar to the side effects normally experienced after a vaccine.

Some common side effects include:

  • Lethargy. Like humans, there are several ways dogs deal with stressful situations. Going to the vet can be a tiring event for your dog and even more so after receiving shots. Your dog may be less energetic following their vaccine, but it is normal for them to rest or nap more after.
  • Soreness or inflammation. You may see redness or slight swelling around the shot area. Your pet may favor the leg that received the vaccine as well. A small bump may also form where the shot was given and may be present for up to 14 days. If your dog develops swelling in their face, seek medical attention as this could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
  • Loss of appetite. A combination of stress, fatigue, and soreness may lead to a decrease in your dog’s appetite. Even their favorite treat or food may not seem appealing during this time. If you notice their appetite has not returned after 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.   
  • Low-grade fever. Like humans, dogs can also experience a slight fever as a reaction to their shot. Make sure to monitor and keep an eye on your dog to make sure the fever does not increase over the next 24 hours.  
  • Respiratory issues. Your dog may experience some congestion, nasal discharge, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Diarrhea. Your dog may experience some runny stools as a reaction to their shot. This, too, should resolve within 24 hours.

While these side effects are common, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the stages of their symptoms. Minor side effects should resolve themselves within 24 hours. Contact your veterinarian if these side effects last longer than 24 hours. You should also seek medical attention if you notice severe symptoms such as excessive swelling around the shot area, swelling in your dog’s face, hives that appear on their body, high fever, difficulty breathing, or if your dog’s pain is excessive. Some of these could be signs of allergic reactions.

Frequently asked questions

Is the DHPP vaccine necessary for dogs?

Yes, DHPP is considered a necessary and core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs who attend daycare or dog parks, live in a multiple dog home or kennel, or have direct contact with other dogs. After the initial doses, the DHPP vaccine should become part of their routine vaccines. It is also advised to check your state laws as they vary and some require proof of vaccinations for dog owners.

How often does my dog need the DHPP vaccine?

For puppies, initial doses are given every two to four weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. For adult dogs, the initial vaccine may include only one or two doses. The good news is after the initial vaccine, booster shots are given every one to two years.

How does the DHPP vaccine for dogs work?

DHPP vaccine helps provide immunity to distemper, canine adenovirus CAV-1 (hepatitis) and CAV-2 (adenovirus), canine parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus.

Are all DHPP vaccines the same?

Vaccines referred to as DHPP, DHPP, DAPP, or DA2PP all provide immunity against the same five viruses. The acronyms are used interchangeably. However, there are times when the Leptospirosis vaccine is combined with the DHPP vaccine, giving it the acronym, DHLPP.