Learn the Benefits of Vaccines for Pets – Hometown Focus


This week, we’re going to dive into common canine vaccinations. Many of you have probably had these vaccines for your pets, but we’ll take a look at what each vaccine actually means. Next week will be an ongoing discussion about vaccinations.

First of all, we will start by analyzing our “basic” canine vaccinations, our combination of acronyms DA2PPV and rabies. These vaccines are considered essential as we would recommend them to almost all of our canine patients. These are diseases that are often incurable, extremely debilitating and/or much less common today due to decades of vaccination.

In puppies, the DA2PPV combination vaccine is given monthly, starting at six to eight weeks, for an ideal of three treatments. Since the puppy’s immune system is not fully developed until three or four months of age, we need to stimulate it at different intervals to be sure it can produce the necessary antibodies to fight these diseases.

After the first round of puppy boosters, your dog will receive a booster again at his one-year visit, and vaccination is generally only required every three years thereafter to maintain safety and validity.


In our D-A2-P-PV combination vaccine, the D stands for distemper. Despite its name, distemper has nothing to do with the general attitude or temperament of the patient, but it is a very serious disease that is still present in the United States.

Distemper is caused by canine morbillivirus and is transmitted through the air or contaminated through the saliva, mucus, blood or urine of infected animals (other dogs, foxes, skunks, raccoons, etc.). It can lead to debilitating respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous symptoms such as: runny eyes/nose, cough, sneezing, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, sudden drop in blood pressure, seizures and death.

Symptomatic treatment can be given, but is usually not productive and there is no cure. Although distemper is very serious, vaccination is extremely effective.

Adenovirus Type-2

The A2 part of D-A2-P-PV represents adenovirus type 2. This virus can cause infectious hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and infectious tracheobronchitis, which is one of many forms of kennel cough , which we will discuss a little later in the article.

As expected, infectious tracheobronchitis can cause severe coughing, runny nose, retching, and fever, and it is spread through contact with infected mucus. This particular disease can be treated very effectively with supportive care, rest, and occasional antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, however, infectious hepatitis can be fatal.

Symptoms of infectious hepatitis can include jaundice (yellowing of the skin/mucous membranes), fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, generalized depression/lethargy, dehydration and death. Effective treatment options may be supportive care to compensate for dehydration and nutrient loss and antibiotics to treat secondary infections, but there is no known cure.


The first P in our combination vaccine stands for parainfluenza. It is the briefest and least serious of the illnesses that I will discuss. It is similar to adenovirus type 2, but usually causes nothing more than tracheobronchitis that can be treated with supportive care.

Long story short, this is another form of kennel cough. It is usually self-limited, but can cause coughing, sneezing, vomiting, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Supportive care can be given as needed and treatment is usually effective.


Finally, for our combination vaccine, PV stands for canine parvovirus. It is one of the most common diseases we see (depending on your region). We have many new cases here on the Iron Chain, and this virus can be very deadly to immunocompromised puppies or dogs.

Parvo is transmitted by direct ingestion of infected feces via grooming or coprophagia (eating stool). It causes severe bloody diarrhea, severe damage to the intestinal epithelium, vomiting, lethargy and loss of nutrients to such an extent that the patient wastes away due to lack of nutrition.

As mentioned with our previous illnesses, treatment involves additional care (usually hospitalization and fluids), and the prognosis depends on the physical condition of the puppy at the time of diagnosis, but it can range from good to serious.

Vaccination against parvovirus is extremely effective. So much so that reputable vaccine companies will pay for hospitalization if your patient is proven to be properly vaccinated at the time of diagnosis.


To complete our part on basic vaccination, we will discuss vaccination against the rabies virus. It’s probably the most well-known and highly regarded vaccine we give to dogs, and I think it’s because of how deadly and dangerous rabies is if contracted by both dogs and animals. humans.

Rabies is first given to a puppy, any time after 13 weeks of age, and this vaccine is valid for one year from that date of vaccination. During your dog’s one-year wellness visit, the next rabies shot is good for three years, and it’s only required every three years after that to be considered valid.

As many of you may know, rabies is transmitted through direct contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Any warm-blooded mammal can carry rabies. Rabies cannot cross intact skin, so saliva (or brain tissue) must come into contact with an abrasion, wound, scratch or open mucous membrane for the virus to infect.

That’s why a bite is often what it takes to spread the virus. Fortunately, the rabies virus is very weak and cannot survive for long in the open air.

Symptoms include weakness/stumbling, paralysis, circling, and irregular disorientation. There is what is called a “furious” form and a “mute” form. Furious Form is exactly what it sounds like. Animals tend to be aggressive, restless and foam at the mouth. With the mute form, animals tend to act out of their normal schedule, disoriented and fearless, or tame, when around humans.

There is no known cure or effective treatment for rabies. There have been extremely rare cases where an HIV-positive person has been cured, but these are perfect scenarios where the virus has not really established itself in the host yet.

Although cases may be rare, we live in a mammal-filled wilderness area that has the propensity to produce a positive case at any time, and those cases have existed.

At last check, we had a positive case in St. Louis County in a bat in 2016, so the minimal price of a rabies vaccine doesn’t outweigh the risks. Especially when the

the fatality rate is 100%.

Trevor Elg has been a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for the past decade in a variety of roles including surgery, anesthesia, 24-hour emergency and critical care, personnel management, and college teaching. He is now venturing into mobile veterinary care and works with Dr. Molly Feiro at Iron Pine Veterinary Services, which does house calls in the eastern Iron Range area. They can be reached at 218-780-8049. Next week’s Pets page will feature information on “optional” or “non-essential” pet vaccinations.


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