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Health & Wellness

The DHPP vaccine protects your dog against these 5 diseases

The DHPP vaccine is required for dogs, however, there are some caveats.

Just like we go in for annual flu shots, our pups need certain vaccines to protect them from catching any diseases. One preventive to add to your dog’s healthcare checklist is the DHPP vaccine, which fights against several illnesses. 

Read on to learn more about why this vaccine is important to your dog’s healthcare plan, its potential side effects and how it protects your best friend.

What’s the DHPP vaccine for dogs?

The DHPP vaccine, often referred to as the distemper vaccine, is a combination of medications that protects your dog against multiple viral diseases. It works to prevent distemper virus, adenovirus type 1 (which causes hepatitis), parvovirus and the causes of kennel cough, which are adenovirus type 2 and parainfluenza.

“The vaccine works by causing a small amount of inflammation at the site where it's given to attract the immune system cells to it,” Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “The immune cells will ‘see’ the vaccine and make antibodies against the viruses.”

Puppies get DHPP shots at 8 weeks and typically have boosters every 3 to 4 weeks until they’re 16 weeks old. After that, dogs usually receive the vaccine a year later and every 1 to 3 years, depending on the manufacturer. 

Should my dog get the DHPP vaccine?

The short answer is: Yes.

“This is considered a core vaccine, meaning that it’s recommended for the vast majority of dogs, regardless of lifestyle,” Dr. Singler says.

However, suppose your pup has had a serious reaction to the DHPP vaccine or has an underlying autoimmune disease that might worsen because of shots. In that case, your veterinarian might decide against giving it to your pet.

RELATED: Rabies shots are necessary for dogs. Here’s why

Are there any side effects of the DHPP vaccine? 

Since the DHPP vaccine is given under the skin, usually over a shoulder or hip, it can cause soreness, lethargy, a decreased appetite or a low-grade fever. These are normal, mild responses to the vaccine and should wear off within 24 to 48 hours, Dr. Singler says. 

In rare cases, dogs may experience a vaccine allergic reaction. And in even rarer circumstances, some vaccines may trigger or exacerbate autoimmune diseases, where their immune system overreacts and starts attacking itself.

“The most common signs of an allergic reaction include vomiting, facial swelling, hives and itchiness,” Dr. Singler says. More severe reactions may cause weakness, collapse, trouble breathing or diarrhea. If you suspect your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction to the DHPP vaccine, have them evaluated by a vet as soon as possible.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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