Many of my clients are surprised to discover that what they are used to hearing referred to as “a Distemper-Parvo vaccine” in conventional veterinary settings, can include antigens (toxins or foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body) for as many as four or five diseases!
In veterinary medicine, we refer to these vaccines as multivalent or polyvalent, meaning they contain antigens from more than one strain of a microorganism or virus. In discussing vaccination protocols with clients at Sunvet Animal Wellness, I sometimes refer to these vaccines as combination or combo vaccines, since that is easier to understand (and spell!).
Combination vaccines inject a puppy or dog with multiple viral antigens in hopes that they will mount an immune response to all of these diseases at one time. Some familiar combo vaccines are the 4-way DHPP (or DAPP) and the 5-way DAAPP, and each of the letters in the vaccine name corresponds to an antigen included in the vaccine.
Just for fun, let’s break down those acronyms…
- DHPP (or DAPP) includes antigens for Distemper, Hepatitis (aka Adenovirus type 1), Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus.
- DAAPP includes antigens for Distemper, Adenovirus type 1(hepatitis), Adenovirus type 2 (respiratory disease), Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus
So, what is the difference between the 4-or 5-way combo vaccines that are available and the vaccines available at Sunvet Animal Wellness Clinic?
At Sunvet, we have made the decision to stock monovalent vaccines for the most common and virulent canine diseases, Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus*, in addition to a high-quality 4-way DHPP vaccine created by Merial. A monovalent vaccine contains one antigen, as opposed to the four or five different antigens in combination vaccines. Whenever possible, I recommend clients choose to vaccinate with monovalent vaccines.
Using monovalent vaccines gives us the ability to customize puppy vaccine protocols for your furry friends and allows me to alternate vaccinations for Canine Distemper and Parvovirus so that the puppies’ bodies have time to assimilate and recover between vaccinations. This way the experience is not overwhelming for their immature immune systems.
By using monovalent vaccines, I am also able to reduce the risk of over-vaccinating in my adult dog patients. Since clients have the option to perform titers when boosters are due and then vaccinate for only what is needed based on the results, we can be sure that adult dogs are not getting unnecessary vaccines.
When considering vaccine options, it is important to be proactive and ask your veterinarian questions about the quality and contents of the vaccines you will be giving your four-legged friend. It is always okay to ask questions and do your own research. At Sunvet, we encourage it!
In conclusion, never assume you only have one option when it comes to vaccines. Your dog’s health and well-being is intricate and individualized, and her care plan doesn’t have to be of the one-size-fits-all variety.
As of late 2019, Merial, the manufacturer for Sunvet’s preferred monovalent canine distemper vaccine, has stopped making the vaccine. We are in the process of looking for another monovalent distemper vaccine to replace it. In the meantime, we are offering a 2-way vaccine for parvovirus and canine distemper.