Distemper Vaccine

DA2PP (commonly known as Distemper)

The Distemper vaccine protects against four viruses:

D - Distemper: Respiratory disease that is usually fatal and is transmitted by infected carriers such as racoons. There is also neurological and gastrointestinal form of this disease

A2 - K-9 Hepatitis: adenovirus infects liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. 

P - Parvovirus: Gastrointestinal virus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is highly contagious and commonly fatal in puppies.It is highly resistant to disinfectants, and can survive in the environment for months.  

 P - Parainfluenza: Respiratory Disease. This is highly contagious and is transmitted through the air. 

 What is Distemper?

Many people think that the distemper vaccine improves your pet's temperament. FALSE. Distemper is much more serious, it is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Vaccinating for this is very important! 

How is Canine Distemper Transmitted?

  • Direct contact with infected bodily fluids: urine, blood, saliva.
  • Respiratory secretions from an infected dog: ex: sneezing, coughing

Clinical Signs:

  • Diarrhea - bloody, foul smelling
  • Fever
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Thick yellow discharge from eyes and nose
  • Respiratory distress
  • Paralysis
  • Muscular Spasms
  • Possible death
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

What is the treatment?

As with most viral infections, there is no specific treatment. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but do help in controlling the secondary bacterial infections that often occur with distemper. The treatment for distemper is aimed at helping reduce the signs and symptoms. This is accomplished with hospitalization providing rest and intensive nursing care, intravenous fluid therapy and symptomatic treatment for the vomiting, diarrhea, cough, etc.

How can I prevent my dog from becoming infected?

Fortunately we have highly effective vaccines to use. These are given to puppies along with other routine vaccines. Although in the majority of dogs the protection from initial vaccination may last more than a year, annual revaccination may be recommended because some dogs may be at higher risk for contracting the disease.

How common is distemper?

Canine distemper is seen worldwide but because of the widespread use of successful vaccines, it is much less common than it was in the 1970’s. It is still seen in populations where vaccination rates are low and in stray dogs. The virus may persist in recovered carrier dogs and in wildlife such as skunks and raccoons. It is essential to keep vaccinating our dog population to prevent canine distemper from returning as a major killer of dogs.


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