Whether to vaccinate your pooch or not is an ongoing controversy. Many veterinarians believe the advantages outweigh the possible risks. As a pet owner, you want the best for your pooch. Understanding the benefits and risks of vaccination helps you make an educated decision.
DHPP stands for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus. Distemper is an upper respiratory virus that affects the central nervous system. Hepatitis is an acute infection of the liver and kidneys. Parainfluenza is a respiratory disease similar to the symptoms found in kennel cough, and it can actually cause kennel cough. Parvovirus is a severe gastrointestinal virus that can be fatal in puppies and dogs if not treated early. You may see the DHPP vaccine listed as DA2PP or DHPPv, the puppy vaccine -- the first vaccine your puppy receives.
Your vet administers the first vaccine or puppy shot at 6 to 8 weeks and then one shot every three to four weeks up to 16 weeks for a total of three vaccines. The mother's milk contains antibodies against disease, but the antibodies weaken over time. The time frame for weakening antibodies differs in all dogs, so veterinarians begin vaccinating as early as 6 weeks old. The vet will give the booster shot one year after the completion of the puppy shots. The American Animal Hospital Association's new recommendations suggest updated shots every three years thereafter.
Pfizer performed a field study on two groups of puppies: Group A received one vaccine at 12 weeks of age. Group B received two shots -- one at 8 weeks and one at 12 weeks. The results showed that the first vaccine given at 8 weeks could block the affects of the second vaccine. Further studies showed similar results. However, The American Animal Hospital Association's new guidelines for 2011 still recommend three shots for puppies. The AAHA is composed of academicians, private practitioners and business representatives.
It's not unusual for your pup to have reactions to the DHPP vaccine. As with many vaccines, the vet injects the body with a live virus. The normal reaction of the body is to fight the virus. Your pup may be lethargic, have no appetite, feel warm to the touch and want to sleep. The best you can do for him is make sure he drinks water. You may have to put the water into an eyedropper or cup it in your hand. If his symptoms have not improved in 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.