What Is the Meaning of DHLPP Vaccine for Dogs?

Shots are an important part of keeping your dog healthy.
i Vet preparing an injection image by Sophia Winters from Fotolia.com

The DHLPP vaccine can spare your pet a great deal of suffering, and at the same time can protect you from huge, unexpected vet bills. This shot protects your dog against five serious, often deadly, diseases, and even dogs that stay home all the time should be vaccinated.


The “D” in the DHLPP means that the vaccine protects against distemper. This extremely contagious viral infection can be deadly, especially in puppies or in dogs weakened by other illnesses, stress or old age. A dog with distemper generally looks very ill, with runny eyes and nose, coughing and a fever. He will usually also have diarrhea and vomiting. Eventually the disease affects the nervous system, causing seizures, confusion and partial paralysis.


Hepatitis is the “H” in the DHLPP vaccine. It is a very contagious virus that infects the liver and other internal organs. Often the first sign of hepatitis in a dog is when a cloudy blue layer forms over his eyes. He may show other signs of liver failure as well. The disease is difficult to treat once contracted, and is often fatal.


Leptospirosis, the DHLPP’s “L,” is a disease that both pets and people can get. Unlike the other parts of the DHLPP, leptospirosis is a bacteria, not a virus. It can be transmitted through bodily fluids or through the consumption of infected food or water. The first symptoms are fever, aches and pain, but eventually kidney failure sets in, and an infected dog will be extremely thirsty. It can be fatal, but leptospirosis is not a problem in all parts of the country, so some vets recommend against including this in your dog’s routine shots.


The least deadly of all the diseases that the DHLPP shot protects your dog against is the first “P,” parainfluenza. While it is highly contagious, parainfluenza is not normally deadly and can be successfully treated. The symptoms of coughing, sneezing and a runny nose can make your dog very miserable for awhile, but it will eventually go away.


The final “P” in the DHLPP stands for parvovirus, more specifically, canine parvovirus, since there are many types of parvoviruses that infect most types of animals. According to the doctors at California’s Mar Vista Veterinary Hospital, this virus is relatively recent, and was not discovered until 1967. The disease usually affects puppies, causing diarrhea – often bloody -- and vomiting that can lead to serious weight loss. It may be fatal, but is treatable if caught early.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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