Ask Dr. Anna: Don’t gamble with your dog’s health

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For all columns with Dr. Anna visit her blog here.

Every wonder what all those initials (DHLPP, FVRCP) meant at the veterinary clinic when you go to get your pet vaccinated? Well, it’s quite simple; each letter stands for a disease that is contained within the vaccine. This week I will talk about dog vaccines and next week I will go

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.
Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

over cat vaccines. The annual vaccines for your dog are DHLPP, also commonly called canine distemper, Bordatella and Rabies. Here is what they each stand for:

  1. D is for distemper: Canine distemper is an air borne virus that is highly contagious and can be fatal. This disease usually only affects dogs less than one year of age. Symptoms include fever, running nose and eyes, coughing and can lead to seizures and even death.
  2. H is for hepatitis: Hepatitis is caused from a virus that is spread from dog to dog through body excretion. This virus affects the liver, kidney, lymph nodes and eyes. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, increased thirst and inflammation of the mouth and eyes. This disease is not commonly seen due to the wide use of vaccines.
  3. L is for leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is caused from a bacteria instead of a virus, like all the others. It can cause liver and kidney failure and is common in the spring and fall. It is transmitted in the urine of an infected animal and the bacteria can live weeks in water or damp areas. Dogs get this bacteria from ingesting contaminated food or water sources. There are multiple strains of leptospirosis and most vaccines available protect against at least four of these strains. This disease can also be transmitted to humans and causes flu like symptoms.
  4. P is for parvo:  Parvo is a highly contagious and deadly virus that is transmitted from dog to dog via contaminated feces. Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and even death. Unfortunately, this disease is very common and usually only affects dogs less than one year of age.
  5. P is for parainfluenza:  Parainfluenza is one of the viral diseases responsible for kennel cough. This virus is air borne and contagious. Coughing is the primary symptom of this disease.
  6. Bordatella:  Bordatella is a highly contagious air borne disease that is responsible for kennel cough. Coughing is the primary symptom of this disease. This vaccine is only recommend for dogs that are boarded, groomed, in obedience classes or frequent dog parks.
  7. Rabies: Rabies is 100% fatal disease and is caused by a virus. The virus is only transmitted from the bite of another animal that is infected with the rabies virus. Symptoms can include sudden death, drastic changes in behavior and neurological symptoms. This disease is also contagious to humans and is 100% fatal.

Don’t let your dog get dealt a bad hand and get sick from these preventable diseases.  Call your veterinarian for an appointment today.

Please e-mail me with your questions at and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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