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What Does DHP-P Stand For?

DHP-P is an important annual vaccination to prevent serious illness in our pet dogs.

D Stands for Distemper

Distemper is one of the most severe diseases seen in dogs.  It is caused by an air-borne virus similar to the human measles virus.  This particular agent can invade any tissue in the dog's body.  We often see pneumonia, a thick, yellow nasal discharge, vomiting and fever. Later, convulsions may develop.  Distemper is most commonly seen in young animals and tends to be most severe in that age group.  Older, unvaccinated dogs may occasionally be infected.  The disease usually takes several weeks to months to run its course.  Once the virus invades the central nervous system, the disease progresses more rapidly.  There is no effective treatment, as presently we have no anti-viral medicines.  Antibiotics are used to prevent secondary infections, and good nursing practices help keep the animal comfortable.  Distemper has an 80-90% mortality rate.  Immunity to the vaccine lasts approximately thirteen months, so annual boosters are necessary.  Puppies should start their vaccine series as early as six weeks of age.

H Stands for Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an uncommon disease in dogs because the vaccine is so reliable in prevention of the infection.  It is caused by either of two adeno viruses.  Symptoms of hepatitis are related to damage to the liver.  Vomiting, diarrhea, a high fever, and jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and mucus membranes) can be seen.  Sometimes the eyes are affected too. As with distemper, no specific therapy is curative.  The animal must be in the hospital on intravenous fluids and other medications to relieve symptoms. This disease has a high mortality rate similar to distemper.  The vaccine produces a long lasting immunity.

P Stands for Parainfluenza

This particular virus causes an upper respiratory infection which is one part of the "kennel cough" complex.  It is passed from dog to dog in the air.  It can affect dogs of any age, and is most commonly seen where dogs are housed in groups such as boarding kennels and grooming establishments.  Dogs may be carriers and show no sign of infection.  Symptoms are usually related to the respiratory system.  A severe cough is the most pronounced sign, and it may sound as if the dog has something caught in its throat.  Some dogs run a high fever and have bronchopneumonia.  No specific treatment is available, but cough suppressants and antibiotics are often prescribed.

P Stands for Parvovirus

This gastro-intestinal disease was prevalent in the late 1970's. It is devastating to young animals, but can be seen in dogs of any age.  Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and depression are common symptoms.  Symptomatic therapy such as intravenous fluids, antibiotics and antiemetics (to stop vomiting) are used  on hospitalized pets.  Intensive care may be required for five to seven days before improvement is seen.  Some dogs may die within 12-24 hours after initial signs are seen.  Puppies should receive several vaccinations in the series, with the final given at sixteen weeks.