Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Friday, April 5, 2013

Vaccine Components: Distemper

Most pet owners get yearly reminders about the vaccines their cat or dog is due for without even understanding what diseases the vaccines are preventing. The reason is that, for the most part, we just don't see too many of these diseases any more, especially in most parts of the United States.

I thought it would be a good idea to break down what is in each vaccine and explain to you what that "letter" stands for exactly!

So we'll start with dogs and the DHPP or the DHLPP or the DA2PP. Different vaccine manufacturers and different combinations of components are the reason for some of these letter differences. 

Today we are focusing on the "D" which stands for distemper.

This is directly from the Merck Veterinary Manual.  It may surprise you to know it's not just dogs that can succumb to this disease. Raccoons, red pandas and large cats can also get this disease. 

Canine distemper is a highly contagious, systemic, viral disease of dogs seen worldwide. Clinically, it is characterized by a diphasic fever, leukopenia, GI and respiratory catarrh, and frequently pneumonic and neurologic complications. The disease is seen in Canidae (dogs, foxes, wolves), Mustelidae (eg, ferret, mink, skunk, wolverine, marten, badger), most Procyonidae (eg, raccoon, coatimundi), some Viveridae (binturong), red pandas (Ailuridae), Elephantidae (Asian elephant), primates (Japanese monkey), and large Felidae.

I have seen this disease in young puppies that most likely came from Midwest "puppy" mills to be sold at pet stores. They did not survive. It is rarely seen here in the US in our pets, but is still prevalent in 3rd world countries. It is by no means "elminated" and since wild animals can get it and carry it, your pet should be protected as recommended by your vet.

The "distemper" name comes from the neurologic signs shown by the animal. Over the years, many people have genuinely asked if it was going to "calm" their animal down. No. It has no effect on your dog's behavior. 

We have excellent vaccines that have a high rate of protection. It's important for puppies to get a series started at 6-8 weeks and continuing every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. The next vaccine would be a year from that last pup shot and after that, it may be a 3 yr or a 1 yr vaccine. Currently there is only ONE licensed 3 year vaccine (in other words, this company has done the studies that back up it's claim that IF exposed to the disease, your dog will not get it in that time period.) Wishing or "thinking" it might be so is another thing and a vaccine company will only stand by what it's studies have shown.

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