Distemper Vaccine for Dogs

The distemper vaccine protects your dog against many different diseases. It is one of the most important vaccines your dog needs to help him stay healthy.

Distemper Vaccine for Dogs from Princeton Veterinary Hospital. The distemper vaccine protects your dog against many different diseases. It is one of the most important vaccines your dog needs to help him stay healthy.

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Distemper Vaccine for Dogs

All dogs should get a “distemper” vaccine in their annual vaccines. Even though the vaccine has the word “temper” in the name, this vaccine will not have any effect on their attitude! All dogs, whether they are laid back or high-energy need to have this vaccine.

This vaccine is commonly called “distemper,” but it protects against 5 different diseases. The vaccine is technically called the DHPPL vaccine. Each letter stands for one disease that it protects against.


The D does stand for distemper. Distemper is a highly contagious, and often fatal, disease. It usually affects puppies between 3-6 months old, but can cause disease in older and younger dogs. Distemper causes respiratory signs (coughing, nasal discharge), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea), and neurological signs (head tremors, stumbling). Distemper is easily preventable with a regular vaccine schedule.


This vaccine also protects your dog against canine infectious hepatitis, caused by a virus. This hepatitis causes a very high fever and bleeding abnormalities. It is difficult to treat, and can be fatal.


If you have a dog, you have probably heard of parvovirus (often just called parvo). Parvovirus is a very serious, highly contagious, usually fatal viral disease of dogs. Parvo causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, leading to severe dehydration. Parvovirus can be prevented with this vaccine.


Parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus. This not the same virus that causes canine influenza. It is one of the causes of kennel cough. (Bordatella is another common cause of kennel cough.) The DHPPL vaccine will protect your dog from parainfluenza infections for one year.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection of the kidneys and liver. The bacteria is secreted in the urine, and can be contagious to any dog or person who comes in contact with infected urine. This vaccine protects against the 4 most common serovars (varieties) of bacteria that cause leptospirosis.

Your dog should be vaccinated with the DHPPL vaccine beginning when he is a puppy. We recommend a DHPPL vaccine every 4 weeks, beginning at 8 weeks old and finishing between 16-20 weeks old. Then your dog should be vaccinated every year with his annual physical examination.

Other Recommended Vaccines

In addition to a DHPPL (distemper) vaccine, your dog should also be vaccinated against rabies. By law, all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, we may also recommend additional vaccines. We require that dogs are vaccinated against Bordatella (a common cause of kennel cough) before any surgery or boarding stays. If your dog is frequently in contact with other dogs (at a groomer, park, or doggie day care) he should be vaccinated against Bordatella.

Is your dog up to date on vaccines? Call us or come in to see when your dog is due for his next annual examination and vaccines. Vaccines are the best (and easiest!) way to keep your dog healthy.

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