The Big V Word: The Veterinarian

It’s funny how most pet parents take better care of their pets then they do themselves. Funny, but not surprising.

If you’re a parent to a human child as well as a fur child you know the drill. Infant check ups are frequent and detailed. Yearly visits are a mandatory part of life and vaccinations are given at different milestones.

Well, our pets need the same care! As puppies our little cute puppy breathed fur balls need to constantly visit their vet and be checked for parasites and given vaccines and then given boosters. If you’re lucky, you won’t be making any emergency visits but those are probably going to happen as well. Our established mutts still need to see the vet at least one time a year! Annual visits are the key to possibly avoiding costly vet bills and major procedures!

A big topic here is pet health insurance. We will be doing a post based solely on pet health insurance. We will analyze what insurances are out there, what they offer and when to purchase pet insurance for Fido. Stay tuned to have all of the crazy behind pet insurance decluttered to make it simple and easy to understand! But before we even talk about insurance we need to talk about why we even go to the vet and how often!

The one thing I will say is that there are a few doggie health insurance plans that you can add a wellness plan that will encompass your annual vet visit. Personally, whether assisted by health insurance or a Banfield Vet Hospital Wellness plan isn’t as important as what actually happens on the metal table.



Okay let’s take a deep breath. The V word.  Some owners can’t even say the word “vet” without Fido heading for the hills. We’re lucky that both our dogs have had great relationships with their vets no matter where we have lived. Now why is that? It’s partially due to researching my local vets and interviewing them before committing as well as being a avid part of their vet care.

Many vets will allow “drop offs” for Fido to get shots. Yeah, no thank you. I just can’t even consider this as a plan of action for my pups! I already struggled through their spay and neuter procedures that I couldn’t be there for!

That brings me to the first point; no matter who your vet is or why you choose them, BE THERE!

One day we were at our puppy vet which was a Banfield Vet Hospital. Now, not all vets are created equal and everyone has had different experiences at various Banfield Vet Hospital locations. Well, vets aren’t clones and neither are Banfield hospitals. I loved our local Banfield but probably never would have taken them to one a few miles away. I truly trusted my vets.

Okay, back to it. So, one day Pippin had his puppy shots due. His usual vet was unavailable that week but it was imperative that Pippin got his booster on time so he could continue to be on a proper schedule. At this time Pippin was TINY (he weighed 1.7lbs at 7 weeks old!) and he had to be weighed on the cat scale in the back. THIS I was used to.

So this new vet, as in new to the practice, comes in (after I spoke with the vet tech and reminded them that since Pippin was so small we had been doing Benadryl shots with his vaccines just as a preventative measure etc) and goes to take Pippin back. I assume to be weighed. She reenters the room and says, “okay we will need to see you back…”. I’ll be honest I don’t remember the rest of the conversation well. I remember asking her what she meant, when Pippin was going to get his shots, what was going on with his fecal and where was all of his stuff!

Long story short, she wasn’t aware of the procedures and had done ALL of Pippin’s work in the back! Oh yeah, and she didn’t give him his Benadryl! Needless to say, I was furious BUT I was kind. I explained to her that’s not how this practice does things and I was very upset to not be aware of and a part of my dogs medical care. I explained how important this was as an owner to truly know everything happening as if it was a human child.

I wouldn’t send my child to the doctor unattended and just trust the paperwork, right? Okay, so it wasn’t the end of days. But that day, it felt like it. They immediately administered his Benadryl free of charge, apologized and explained it was the vets first day at the practice. I’m glad I was kind. First day. Yikes. I’m sure my vet, the lead vet at the practice, had some words with her but the point was just because I was stressed didn’t mean I had to ruin her day. She has more pets to take care of and those pets are just as important as mine and I want the vet to have a good day too.

Okay long story for a simply morale. Be involved in your pets care. That’s how you’ll learn the most from your vet. That’s also probably where I’ve gained so much knowledge about veterinary medicine that I’ll be sharing with you now. (It doesn’t hurt my best friend was a veterinary technician for many years!)

Okay, now why do we go to the vet? We have done our research and found our vet. We’ve committed ourselves to being there for Fido unless it’s a surgery. So why go? I believe the annual check up is important!

Also, some vets now offer three year distemper vaccinations which is awesome! But still, gotta make that annual appointment! If you miss your annual appointment, even with some vaccinations every three years, you are missing out on many life altering vaccinations and important check ups for Fido!  (Little human reminder – you should be going annually too but – well this isn’t that kind of blog.)

Okay so what happens annually?  This wil depend on age, what the exam finds and more but there’s a general list of “must haves” while visiting the V word. If you get your pets rabies and distemper vaccines annually well let’s start with those!

Rabies is a actually a vaccine that is by law required to be administered by a licensed veterinarian or a certified rabies vaccination in the U.S. If you don’t have he vaccine, and Fido bites someone or is but by a wild animal, you only have two options; long and expensive quarantine time for Fido or euthanasia. Rabies cannot be detected in living creatures and can only be found in autopsy.

The distemper vaccination can vary from age of pet to your personal V word. In general Most distemper vaccines prevent against distemper as well as parvo. Some prevent against more diseases such as hepatitis and various respiratory diseases. I feel that vetSTREET has done a great job describing this complicated vaccine and I’d like to share their information with you all too. So, when you’re in the room with Fido you can make sure you actually know what is in that vial they are injecting and what your fur baby is actually being protected from.

The exact combination of your dog’s distemper combination vaccine depends on your dog’s age and individual disease-risk profile, but in general, the most important diseases to protect against are canine distemper, canine adenovirus-2 infection (hepatitis and respiratory disease), canine parvovirus infection, and parainfluenza. The abbreviation for this combination vaccine is frequently written as “DHPPV,” “DHPP,” “DA2PP,” or “DA2PPV” on your pet’s health records. The letters in these abbreviations are defined as follows:

  • D = Canine distemper virus. Infection with this virus is serious, with a death rate approaching 50% in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the respiratory, digestive, and brain/nervous systems of dogs.
  • H = Hepatitis. Since this vaccine protects against canine adenovirus-2 and adenovirus-1, it is often referred to as A2. Canine adenovirus-1 causes canine infectious hepatitis, a serious disease that affects the liver.
  • Canine adenovirus-2 causes respiratory disease and is one of the infectious agents commonly associated with canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough.
  • A2 = Canine adenovirus-2. This virus causes a respiratory disease in dogs (see above).
  • P = Parvovirus. Infection with this virus is highly contagious and serious, with a death rate approaching 90% in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the digestive and immune systems of unvaccinated animals, causing debilitating diarrhea and vomiting.
  • P = Parainfluenza. This is a mild respiratory viral disease in dogs. V = Virus.

Therefore, a notation of “DA2PPV,” “DA2PP,” “DHPP,” or “DHPPV” in your pet’s vaccination record generally means that your pet was vaccinated against canine distemper, hepatitis (canine adenovirus-2 and -1), parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

Depending on your dog’s individual disease risk, which includes your dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and lifestyle (active and outdoors or primarily indoors), your pet’s combination vaccine may protect against additional diseases. Some of these vaccines are considered noncore, meaning they are optional and only recommended for pets with certain exposure risks.

The “C” in “DA2PPV-C” and the “L” in “DA2PPV-L” are defined as follows:

C = Coronavirus. This causes a highly contagious viral disease in dogs. The disease typically affects the intestinal tract of dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Vaccination against this virus is generally considered noncore (optional) but may be recommended in areas where coronavirus is very common.

L = Leptospirosis. This potentially serious bacterial disease attacks the kidneys and liver of infected dogs and can be transmitted to humans. Vaccination against this disease is generally considered noncore but may be recommended in areas where leptospirosis is common.

Can you believe that is just ONE vaccine right there? Phew! Make sure to ask your vet exactly which variation of the vaccine your pup will be getting to understand what other vaccinations are needed as well.

For instance, if your distemper vaccination doesn’t cover Lepto (listed above in the vetStreet quote) then you will want to get that for Fido as well. Living on the Eastern coast of the U.S. I am noticing more and more veterinarians are now incorporating the Lepto and Lyme vaccine together. I believe that is because they are encouraging pet parents to get the Lyme vaccine for their pet. Of course, we at Pippin Tails get the Lyme vaccine as well. As you will notice in our post entitled “Fleas, Ticks and Worms OH MY!” tick prevention and preventing the diseases they carry is of the utmost importance.

There are also two types of Lyme vaccinations as well, so make sure to ask your V word specifically which one they are using. There is the vaccination that protects your pet directly from the Lyme disease and any effects that it will have on Fido. There is also a vaccination out there that will not only do that BUT it will also neutralize the tick that bites of Lyme diseases until it bites another Lyme positive host.  Of course, please remember that tick preventive can be key in keeping Fido safe from all tick bourne diseases.

This brings us to our next section of annual veterinary visits for Fido. We talk about 4DX Snap Testing briefly in “Fleas, Ticks and Worms OH MY!” but it is a very important component of annual visits. Firstly, you won’t be getting your heartworm preventative without getting at least the basic heartworm testing done by your vet each year. But, if you live in an area where ticks pose problems going for the 4DX Snap Test is the most thorough test for Fido to make sure there is no lingering bacteria in their bloodstream. Check out 4DX Snap Testing page to find out the other 4 diseases that it tests for after testing for heartworms and Lyme disease.

So you will notice one vaccination missing and that is because it is slightly different than the rest. The bordetella vaccination. The bordetella vaccination prevents against the common kennel cough. This little cold is just like the human common cold. The direct threat of this cold is small. Honestly, it is mostly the complications arising from having a cough, it being left untreated or the immune system of the dog not being able to handle the cold that causes more problems. (See the vetSTREET quote above for more respiratory diseases and vaccinations that work against them.)

So why is bordetella different than the rest? Firstly, you’ll hear many mixed reviews on if it is mandatory or optional. Everyone has an opinion on this little vaccination. Secondly, it is given without a needle and into the wet nose of Fido. Thirdly and most importantly; It takes at least 1 week to work! This is why I believe it is so highly debated. The groomer or daycare says something along the lines of “your dog must have bordetella vaccination to be here”. So you go get the vaccination and the next day Doggie Day Care is on! Granted, Fido had fun, but it didn’t even matter. So, this is a take or leave it vaccine in our opinion at Pippin Tails. You can always ask an establishment if you can sign a release stating if your dog does get kennel cough that you opted out of the vaccination.


Even though it doesn’t seem very basic, that is the basics! 

You will want to consult your personal veterinarian on timing, schedules, boosters and specific information about your pet. Depending on the age of your pet there may be more to your annual check up. For instances, if your pet is older your V-word may opt to start doing annual blood work. If anything is found in the exam blood work, x-rays or therapy may be suggested for Fido. Please remember that you have chosen this person, trusted this person and they will guide you in the right direction. If you have chosen your vet well, you won’t have to worry about “being scammed” or “overcharged” and that is a very big deal. Make sure to really put in the time to know your vet, see them annually, read reviews, talk to the right people so that you can put your full trust in the hands of the person you are allowing to make the biggest decisions for your fur babies life.

Your V word should feel like more than that. They should feel more like a partner in the life of your pet.

Tiny polar bear of a puppy at his first vet visit. Pippin was 7 Weeks and 4 days old. He weighed a big ol’ 1.7lbs!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s