As a Veterinarian, many of the dogs I see day to day are coming in for vaccines. While each animal is unique, I tend to follow the vaccine recommendations published by the American Animal Hospital Association: AAHA (canine_vaccination_guidelines.aspx). The recommendations have been recently updated in September of 2017.
First things first: there are three categories of vaccines for dogs:
- CORE: every dog is recommended to get these vaccinations (these diseases are either highly contagious, very deadly, or both)
- NON-CORE: dogs are recommended to get these vaccinations based on their possible exposure (i.e. geographic location, recreational activity such as hunting, or exposure to other dogs such as grooming)
- Not Recommended: these vaccines exist but are not actively recommended
So how do you pick which vaccines to give your canine companion? First and foremost: TALK TO YOUR VETERINARIAN! Your vet will be able to inform you of the common diseases in your area and how to avoid them. My goal is to help you be more informed for these conversations. Please read through the vaccine list below to see what your pet may benefit from:
- Rabies: CORE
This vaccine is a CORE vaccine and is legally required since this disease is Zoonotic. This vaccine is given for the first time any time after 12 weeks of age (I generally give it around 16 weeks). The frequency of vaccination is either 1 year or 3 years depending on your location (State laws) and age of your pet. Here in Ohio, a pet’s first Rabies is valid for 1 year and subsequent boosters are valid for 3 years.
- DHP or DHPP: (Can also be labeled as DAP or DAPP) CORE
This vaccine is a CORE vaccine that protects your pet against Distemper Virus, Hepatitis (also known as Adenovirus), Parvovirus and (depending on the manufacterer) +/- Parainfluenza. The Leptospirosis vaccine can also be included in this vaccine. If so, you will see DHLP or DHLPP. This vaccine is given as early at 6-8 weeks of age and administered every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Thereafter, this vaccine is recommended to be administered every 3 years. This is a new change as of the 2017 recommendations.
- Leptospirosis: NON-CORE
This vaccine is a NON-CORE vaccine that protects against different serovars (fancy names for ‘types’) of the Leptospira bacteria. Since the Leptospira bacteria is spread through urine this vaccine is recommended for animals with possible exposure to wildlife. While you would think this would mean hunting animals exclusively, there has been a recent increase in Leptospirosis cases in cities due to rodent populations. Please consult your veterinarian to see if your pet needs this vaccine.
- Bordetella: NON-CORE
Commonly known as Kennel Cough, the Bordetella vaccine protects against the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacteria is generally spread from dog to dog through social contact. It is important to protect your dog if interacting with other canines in areas such as grooming facilities, doggie daycare, dog parks or boarding facilities.
- Lyme: NON-CORE
The Lyme vaccine protects against the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is spread through exposure through tick bites. If you live in an endemic area of the United States, your veterinarian should recommend this vaccine as well as proper tick prevention. If you plan on traveling into other areas of the country and are unsure about possible Lyme exposure please contact your veterinarian at least 4 weeks before travel to have time to receive the proper number of boosters. Prevention in endemic areas is key since this bacteria is Zoonotic.
- Influenza: NON-CORE
To date, there are two current strains of dog flu: H3N8 and H3N2. Bivalent vaccines are recommended at this time since these cover for both strains. Thus far, there have only been certain pockets of affected areas across the United States.
- Coronovirus: Not Recommended
The Coronovirus vaccine protects against a gastrointestinal virus that generally affects young puppies between 9-12 weeks of age. While this virus is very contagious and can show similar signs to early Parvovirus, it generally self resolves in a short period of time and is not commonly seen in adult dog populations.