What is the DHPP Vaccine for Dogs & Puppies? How it Works?

What is the DHPP Vaccine for Dogs & Puppies? How it Works?

Last Updated on February, 2023

Your dog will receive their vaccines during their annual check-up at the vet’s, and we all know how vital vaccines are!

Vaccination is a crucial part of preventative healthcare and is vital to help your dog live a long and healthy life. They boost your dog’s immune system and protect it from serious diseases that can potentially be life-threatening.

It may seem like shots for your dog are unnecessary, but trust me, you’ll find yourself spending WAY more on treatments for diseases that your canine could be exposed to without the vaccine.

When you go for your dog’s annual check-ups, you’ll most likely notice that your dog is required to get a particular shot known as the DHPP vaccine.

Wondering what exactly this vaccine does?

You don’t have to be in the dark any longer because, in this article, I will be laying down everything you need to know about the DHPP vaccine for dogs and whether it’s essential.

What is the DHPP Vaccine?

a human holding a dhpp vaccine

The DHPP vaccine for dogs is a core vaccination that protects your dog from four types of diseases. (1)

Therefore, it’s known as a combination vaccine and all the diseases that it protects your dog from (which we will get into soon) are all highly contagious, so dogs run the risk of being infected at any age.

Further, these illnesses are caused by viruses with no known cure, making the DHPP vaccination all the more critical.

The DHPP vaccine is manufactured by Merck Animal Health under the name Nobivac Canine DAPPv, by Zoetis under the name Vanguard Plus 5 and by Elanco under the name Duramune Max 5; ULTRA Duramune.

What the DHPP Vaccine Protects Your Dog From?

DHPP vaccines are known as 5-in-1 vaccines in reference to the five illnesses it protects dogs from.

The D in the acronym is for distemper virus, H is for two types of adenovirus, and the two Ps are for parainfluenza and parvovirus.

Canine Distemper (D-Distemper)

Canine distemper virus is a highly contagious virus that spreads through airborne exposure, direct contact with a contaminated object (such as bowls, bedding, toys, etc.) and contact with an infected animal.

There is no cure for canine distemper virus, which can quickly become fatal for many dogs, and neurological damage can be permanent in dogs that survive.

This serious illness targets the digestive system and the urogenital, respiratory, and nervous systems of infected dogs.

Canine Distemper virus

This illness also used to be known as “hard pad” because it results in the footpad of infected dogs hardening and thickening.

An infected dog may suffer from a high fever, vomiting, cough, diarrhea, and eye and nasal discharge. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, take it to a veterinarian immediately because distemper gets harder to treat in its further stages.

Successive stages of the disease can involve pneumonia, paralysis, convulsions, salivation, and seizures. These are all primarily neurological symptoms of the disease.

Newborn puppies and unvaccinated dogs of any age are at the highest risk of contracting this serious disease.

Canine Adenovirus CAV-1 & CAV-2

Canine adenovirus can be categorized as follows;

CAV-1 – Canine Hepatitis (H – Hepatitis)

CAV-1 (also known as infectious canine hepatitis) is the more severe illness of the two types of canine adenovirus.

Infectious canine hepatitis spreads through urine and feces and targets a dog’s liver, kidney, blood vessel linings, spleen and lungs. Young dogs are the most vulnerable to this disease.

Symptoms of hepatitis infection include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, jaundice, etc.

You’ll need to see your vet immediately if you notice these symptoms in your dog because the disease is quite deadly. Your dog may even have to undergo transfusions if they suffer from blood loss.

Even after the initial infection, dogs can still be inflicted with long-term damage to their kidneys, liver and eyes. 

Also, dogs who have recovered from hepatitis can still shed the virus in their urine for up to 6 months.

CAV-2 Canine Adenovirus

CAV-2 is less severe than the other illnesses the DHPP vaccine protects your dog from.

Nevertheless, CAV-2 can cause kennel cough, which involves symptoms similar to those of an ordinary human cold and also include congestion and a hacking cough. 

Kennel cough can create weakened immune systems in dogs, making it easier for your dog to contract more severe illnesses like canine distemper.

Related article: Side Effects of the Kennel Cough Vaccine

Canine Parainfluenza (P – Parainfluenza)

Similarly to CAV-2, canine parainfluenza can cause kennel cough, which can spread rapidly via the air.

Symptoms of the parainfluenza virus include coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing and lethargy.

Parainfluenza isn’t life-threatening, and dogs generally recover within 2 to 3 weeks without treatment, but some cases might require supportive care.

Canine Parvovirus (P – Parvo)

Taking a vast 180 after those non-fatal illnesses, we have canine parvovirus, which pet parents and vets fear alike.

Parvo is a highly contagious viral disease, and while it isn’t prevalent in adult dogs, puppies are very vulnerable to it.

Dogs can catch parvo through infected feces or contact with contaminated surfaces. 

a tired dog on the floor

Parvovirus can remain on surfaces (including the soil) for up to a year and is resistant to many disinfectants and cleaning solutions. Therefore, even taking your unvaccinated puppies for a walk could be scary.

Symptoms of parvovirus attacks include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss and loss of fluids and proteins.

A quick diagnosis is essential to treat parvo, so take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect they are inflicted with the disease.

Vets recommend hospitalization if your dog is unfortunate enough to have caught parvo, and treatments can be complicated and expensive.

Parvovirus can also suppress an infected dog’s immune system, making them more vulnerable to many other infectious diseases.

Is the DHPP Vaccine Effective?

a veterinarian vaccinating a dog

The DHPP vaccine is, in fact, effective in protecting your dog from the five diseases listed above.

How the vaccine works is as follows;

The DHPP vaccine contains small quantities of modified distemper virus, CAV-2, parainfluenza and parvovirus.

These viruses have been modified so that while they do not cause infection in your dog, they will activate the immune response necessary to fight these diseases.

Thus, your dog’s immune system is, in a way, trained to take on the viruses if they do get infected.

Special Note: Other Vaccine Combinations

a dog and some types of vaccines

You will most likely have noticed vaccines with a ton of letters like DHLPP, DA2LPPC, DHLPPC, and the list goes on.

It is usually best to avoid huge combination vaccines because while they are convenient, dogs may be unable to handle being exposed to more than five viruses at once. This is because natural exposure generally comes from one virus at a time.

This is especially true for small dogs and pups with undeveloped immune systems. 

Of all of these combination vaccines, ensure to steer clear of the DHLPP vaccine.

The “L” stands for leptospirosis, and this vaccine should be given with careful consideration because it’s not a core vaccine, and it’s very high risk. Some adverse effects of this vaccine include kidney failure, seizures, mast cell disease, etc.

When is the DHPP Vaccine Given? 

Dogs should ideally receive their first DHPP vaccination as puppies at around six weeks of age.

After this, these puppy shots should be repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16-20 weeks old. This will, of course, depend on the puppy’s breed and risk factor.

Ensure your puppy completes the whole vaccine series scheduled through veterinary advice because stopping halfway puts your dog at risk of disease.

After the initial shots of the vaccine are complete, your puppy will be protected from the above five diseases for an entire year. After this, the DHPP booster should be administered to your dog. 

Once the one-year booster shot is given, a DHPP booster should be given every three years. (2)

Previously, the DHPP booster was administered yearly, but new research by vaccine manufacturers showed that just one shot of the booster held up for a good three years in adult dogs who have received all their puppy vaccines.

How Much Does the DHPP Vaccine Cost?

The DHPP vaccine for dogs generally costs between $40 and $100. 

The exact cost of the vaccine can depend on several factors, such as where you live. 

Either way, getting the DHPP vaccine is far less expensive than getting individual vaccines for all the diseases it covers.

You can reduce the cost of vaccinations with the help of pet insurance and find relatively lower-cost vaccination clinics through pet organizations. You can also check out veterinary practices that offer wellness programs that cover the cost of vaccinations.

What are the Side Effects of the DHPP Vaccine?

Side Effects of the DHPP Vaccine

Vaccines generally cause mild side effects that disappear within a day or two after vaccination. 

You can expect swelling and pain around the injection site, a lower appetite, lethargy and slight fever in your dog.

Severe side effects are rare cases and signs of an allergic reaction. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences side effects like hives, diarrhea, vomiting, breathing difficulties and facial swelling.

Is the DHPP Vaccine Essential for Dogs?

DHPP vaccines are considered core vaccines by the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

And what is a core vaccine, you ask?

Core vaccines are vaccinations that are recommended for all dogs, regardless of what their environment or lifestyle looks like. 

a veterinarian vaccinating a dog

This is in contrast to lifestyle dog vaccines, which are vaccinations only recommended to dogs with a particular kind of lifestyle (for example, dogs who are outdoors, go to doggie daycare and spend a lot of time around other animals, etc.)

So, the DHPP vaccine being classified as a core vaccination means that it is essential for both puppies and adult dogs.

Most of the diseases this vaccination helps prevent are also ones that do not have a cure, so vaccinating your dog is the most effective way to keep your dog safe.


From when they’re cute little pups to when they’re older dogs, we all want the best life for our dogs.

And one of the main ways to ensure that is by making sure your dogs get their vaccinations.

The DHPP vaccine, along with other vaccinations, helps to protect both your puppy or adult dog from dangerous diseases that have the possibility of being fatal.

So, head to your local vet as soon as possible and get their advice on your dog’s most ideal vaccination schedule. And, of course, make sure you stick to it!


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Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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