What is a DA2PP vaccine?: Pet Vaccines Explained

As pet parents, we all look for ways to keep our pets happy; from that adorable new squeaky toy to the fancy treats that cost more per ounce than fillet mignon. Yet all of the squeaky toys in the world won’t buy happiness when your pet becomes sick. One of the best ways to protects cats and dogs from illness is to visit the vet regularly for vaccines to prevent the transmission of disease. I understand that it can be confusing when your vet staff tells you that your dog is due for a DA2PP vaccine, or that your cat needs their annual FVRCP vaccine, so let’s explore what these acronyms stand for and what diseases they prevent.

There are two categories of vaccines: “core” vaccines that are recommended for all pets, and “non-core vaccines” which may be recommended by your vet based on lifestyle and exposure risk. The core vaccine for both dogs and cats is the Rabies vaccine, which is required by law in Florida and most US states. The second core vaccine for dogs is often referred to as the DA2PP or DHPP vaccine. This stands for “Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2 (Hepatitis), Parvo, and Parainfluenza”, meaning that this vaccine is protects against four different diseases.

Vaccines are the best way to protect your pet from highly contagious diseases.

It is especially important for puppies to begin a series of DA2PP vaccines at six to eight weeks of age, as natural immunity obtained from the mother decreases and puppies become very susceptible to potentially life-threatening diseases such as Canine Parvovirus (Parvo). According to the American Kennel Club, Parvo is transmitted through feces and can remain in the environment for at least one month, and up to a year if the conditions are right. This means that puppies do not need to be directly exposed to another dog that has Parvo in order to contract the disease, and caution is advised when choosing where and how to socialize and exercise your pup. The AKC recommends avoiding exposure to unknown dogs or public places until your puppy has finished their vaccine series.

Non-core vaccines for dogs include Bordetella, Influenza, Leptospirosis and Lyme. The Bordetella (aka: Kennel Cough) and Canine Influenza vaccines help to prevent highly-contagious respiratory diseases, and are essential for dogs that may be exposed to other dogs, especially in group settings such as dog parks, daycare, or boarding facilities.

Lifestyle is an important factor in determining what vaccines your pet should receive.

Leptospirosis and Lyme disease are spread by wild animal urine and ticks, respectively, so is especially important for dogs that spend time outdoors, hiking, or in the woods. According the American Veterinary Medical Association, Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that is found in soil and water and is more common in warm climates with lots of rain, such as Florida. This disease is also transmissible to humans, so vaccination protects not only your dog, but your family, as well. Discuss these options with your vet staff to determine what vaccines are critical for your dog.

For cats, the second core vaccine is the FVRCP vaccine, which is sometimes erroneously referred to as the Feline Distemper vaccine. FVRCP stands for “Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia”. These are all highly contagious diseases, so it is important for indoor cats as well in the case that your cat escapes, needs to visit the vet, or stays at a boarding facility. Non-core vaccines for cats include Feline Leukemia, Chlamydia, and Bordetella. These vaccines may be recommended based on your cat’s individual risk factors.

You never know when you may need to take your cat to the vet or a boarding facility. Make sure that they are protected from highly-contagious diseases.

Now that you know the vaccine lingo, you can have an informed conversation with your vet during your next visit.  When in doubt, ask questions! Your pet’s health and happiness relies on you. 

SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center provides complete veterinary care for pets in the St. Petersburg and surrounding communities. Visit us online or call 727-220-1770 for more information!

Blog written by Amanda Corzatt, M.A. Biology and Digital Marketing Creator at SPCA Tampa Bay, and curated by Dr. Alissa Daoudiya, General Practice Veterinarian at SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center.