Dog Vaccines 101

As a PetParent, you know your dog needs certain vaccines to remain healthy, and in some cases legal according to state standards. But the world of pet vaccines is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to know what your dog needs, versus what is excess for your pet & lifestyle.  Vaccines are expensive, and no PetParent wishes to subject their pets to unneeded pokes and prods with a needle. Over-vaccination of our pets has been attributed to cancer and other ailments so it’s certainly to our pets advantage to follow proper vaccination guidelines. Here’s a break-down of the different dog vaccines on the market, as well as a description of which dogs might need each type of vaccine. You’ll be ready to go to your dogs next health exam prepared with a bit of vaccine knowledge and will be ready to have a discussion with your vet about your dogs individual vaccination needs.

1. Required Vaccines:

Only one vaccine is required by law for all domestic dogs and cats, this vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian.

  • Rabies vaccine: A rabies vaccine is required by law in all 50 states. Most rabies vaccines are valid for 3 years, although some states still require this vaccine yearly. See a full list of US State Rabies regulations here. You will be provided with an ID tag and rabies certificate for your dog at the time of vaccination. Most states required a rabies vaccine to be administered by a veterinarian. A rabies vaccine is required by law in order to prevent our domestic pets from contracting the dangerous and deadly rabies virus. More practically, if your dog ever was picked up by animal control, proof of rabies is required to release them back into your care. If they haven’t been vaccinated against rabies your dog would have to stay at the shelter during a quarantine period- usually 14 days.

2. Core Vaccines:

In 2011 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) updated their vaccine protocol recommendation. Many vaccines went from having a yearly (annual) booster, to having all of the core vaccines being recommended to re-vaccinate at three years (or longer).  The AAHA vaccine task force also noted that for all of the core vaccines (with the exception of 1yr rabies) that the provided immunity lasts longer than 5 years (distemper & parvo), to 7 years (adenovirus) Depending on your dogs weekly activities and level of interaction with other dogs, some of these vaccines may be beneficial to your dog, while others may not be absolutely necessary. Be sure to have a discussion with your vet during your dogs next appointment to be sure your dog is vaccinated as needed but not more than necessary.

  • Distemper vaccine: Often combined with the parainfluenza vaccine, the distemper shot is an essential part of a puppies booster shot series. Distemper is a viral disease that affects the dogs respiratory system- it is often fatal. There is currently no known cure for canine distemper so treatment is focused on alleviating the symptoms. New born pups are especially susceptible to the disease.
  • Parvovirus vaccine: The parvovirus vaccine is an essential part of the routine puppy shots because parvovirus can be deadly if contracted. parvovirus is a severe infection of the digestive system that requires intensive veterinary treatment in order for the dog to survive the disease. Often a blood transfusion is required to save the puppy’s life. Parvovirus is most often contracted by puppies under 16 weeks of age.
  • Adenovirus vaccine: The canine adenovirus type 2 vaccine provides protection against canine infections hepatitis. It also contains CAV-2  preventing canine cough. Adenoviruses spread between dogs who have direct contact with the mucous secretions of infected dogs which is why vaccination is essential to stop the transmission of the infection between dogs.

3. Optional Vaccines:

  • Bordatella vaccine: The bordatella vaccine provides your dog with protection from ‘kennel cough’. Your dog will need a bordatella vaccine if he/she visits the dog park, doggie daycare, or a boarding kennel on a regular basis. Kennel cough is spread by contact with other dogs, so dogs who lead an especially social life are better off protected. Many boarding kennels will require proof of bordatella vaccine prior to allowing your dog to stay at their facility. Speak with your vet to determine how often (if ever)  your dog should receive a bordatella booster after their initial vaccination series.
  • Lyme disease vaccine: Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that is spread by ticks. Your vet may recommend this vaccine if you live in a heavily tick infested area, or if you go hiking or camping with your dogs often. Lyme disease causes severe arthritis and damage to the kidneys.
  • Giardia vaccine:  The giardia vaccine is one of the more controversial right now. The vaccine can prevent the shedding of cysts by t doesn’t prevent from giardia infection. Giardia is an intestinal infection that causes diarrhea and discomfort in your pup. Giardia is often a water-borne disease, and up to 50% of puppies will contract it.
  • Coronavirus vaccine: Coronavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea. The risk of your dog contracting this disease is less than other viral diseases, so speak with your vet to see if this is a needed one for your pet.
  • Canine Influenza vaccine: (H3N8) This is the ‘doggie flu’ and their symptoms of suffering are similar to a human flu. It’s extremely contagious between dogs who have direct contact with a dog who’s struggling with canine influenza so some kennels now require this vaccine before boarding your dog.

Potential Side Effects of Vaccinations: It should be noted that while most dogs exhibit no signs of adverse reactions towards vaccines, it does happen rarely. You should monitor your dog for signs of:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy/sluggish
  • collapse
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • pain/swelling/irritation at the injection site
  • seizures

Call your vet or an emergency vet immediately if you notice any of these signs in your dog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *