Vaccines are probably one of the most confusing yet one of the most important things we do for our pets. We all want our pets to remain healthy and live as long as possible; next to spaying and neutering, vaccinating is next in line of importance.
The problem – many people don’t understand the acronyms (DA2PP, DHLPP, RV1, BDV, CIV, and FVRCP) and don’t know for what we are giving the vaccines
My goal – help by explaining the vaccines and the abbreviations in a way that we can all understand
Let’s Get Started…
There are several common vaccines that are recommended for our family dogs. Here are the most common, and in my opinion, the most important.
The most important, and legally required is the rabies vaccine (abbreviate RV1, RV3). Rabies infects the central nervous system and is transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. The vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian and can be given in one year or three year increments. Typically the first one (given when a puppy at 16 weeks of age) is a one year and subsequent doses are given every three years.
Next, the canine distemper vaccine. This vaccine is usually given as a part of a combo vaccine (abbreviated DHLPP, DHPP, DA2PP-L or C). These combo vaccines help to prevent several diseases that are potentially fatal to our dogs…
Distemper – viral infection affecting the respiratory system, the GI system and potentially the central nervous system
Hepatitis – viral disease that affects the dogs liver
Adenovirus – disease affecting the respiratory system (many times associated with kennel cough)
Leptospirosis – bacterial infection that affects the kidney and liver and can be transmitted to humans
Parainfluenza – respiratory disease
These are typically given on an annual basis however many clinics are starting to move to triennial administration, with the exception of the Leptospirosis portion which should still be given annually.
The above two vaccines should be given to all dogs. There are a few more that I would, and my trusted veterinarian would recommend.
First on the list is the kennel cough vaccine (abbreviated BDV). Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause difficulty breathing and a horrendous cough (much like croup if you have kids). This vaccine is recommended for all dogs that ever go to a kennel, dog park, day care, or PetSmart (any where that your dog may contact another dog).
Canine influenza (abbreviated CIV) is another serious illness that dogs can get and seeing big growth in our area. Yes, it is the “dog flu” and just like human flu can be very serious in the old and the young, but can also have a great impact on the “middle aged”.
There are also vaccines for illnesses such as giardia and Lyme disease. If not sure if these are important for your dog and your situation, speak to your veterinarian. The two of you together can discuss and plan the best course of action for your dog.
The bottom line with canine vaccines is that you discuss them with your veterinarian. Having the information above will help you be a more active participant in the conversation and will help you better make an INFORMED decision.