The Canine Distemper Vaccine

What Does the DAPP or DA2PP Vaccine Protect Against? 

The DAPP or DA2PP vaccine (often called “the distemper vaccine”) actually protects against FOUR contagious viral infections in dogs.

Distemper virus: The distemper virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system of infected puppies, dogs, and wildlife. Distemper virus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms initially include fever, eye discharge, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, hardening of the paw pads, reduced appetite and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitching, convulsions, seizures and paralysis. Distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent, irreparable, neurologic damage. For more information, refer to the Canine Distemper Brochure produced by the AVMA.

Adenovirus: Adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) attacks the liver to cause infectious canine hepatitis while the adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) attacks the respiratory tract as one of the three most common causes of infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). Vaccinating dogs with either DAPP (containing CAV-1) or DA2PP (containing CAV-2) protects against both type 1 and type 2 because these are similar enough that there is cross-protection between them. Adenovirus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms of CAV-1 (hepatitis) include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and blue cloudiness of the eyes. Symptoms of CAV-2 (tracheobronchitis) include a dry hacking cough, often with a terminal retch which produces white foam, and conjunctivitis. The CAV-1 virus can be fatal, although dogs with milder disease may survive with appropriate supportive care. The CAV-2 virus is generally manageable with supportive treatment.

Parainfluenza: The parainfluenza virus attacks the respiratory tract and is one of the three most common causes of infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) along with Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine adenovirus type 2. Parainfluenza virus is spread through airborne secretions. Symptoms include fever, cough, nasal discharge, lethargy and poor appetite. This virus is generally manageable with supportive treatment.

Parvovirus: The parvovirus attacks white blood cells (the part of the blood responsible for fighting off infection) and the gastrointestinal tract of puppies, dogs, and wild canids (foxes, wolves, coyotes). Parvovirus is spread from direct dog-to-dog contact or from exposure to contaminated feces, environments or people. Symptoms include fever, lethary, poor appetite, abdominal pain, vomitin, and severe diarrhea (often bloody). Parvo is a very serious illness which can cause death (especially in young puppies). If parvo is recognized early affected dogs do have a chance of survival if given appropriate intensive (and expensive!) supportive care. For more information, refer to the Canine Parvovirus Brochure produced by the AVMA.

Why Should I Vaccinate my Dog with DAPP/DA2PP?

  1. The viral infections that the DAPP/DA2PP (“Distemper”) vaccine protect against are highly contagious and potentially fatal. Even those viruses that are not fatal can be expensive to treat. The cost of vaccination (generally about $30.00 every three years for adult dogs) far outweighs the risks of not vaccinating.
  2. Vaccination not only protects YOUR dog from contracting these diseases, it also prevents the spread of disease in general, which keeps our pet population healthier as a whole.