Having your puppy properly vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep him or her happy and healthy. Vaccines protect against many serious and even fatal diseases.

While not all dogs need to be vaccinated for all diseases all the time, there are two general groupings of vaccinations: those that target “core” diseases and those that target “non-core” diseases.

List of Core Dog Vaccines

  • Rabies – A fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system and that is contagious to humans.
  • Distemper – A viral disease that is often fatal, affecting the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and often the nervous system.
  • Hepatitis / Adenovirus – Vaccination against adenovirus type 2 protects against both adenovirus types 1 and 2. Adenovirus type 1 causes infectious canine hepatitis, a viral disease that affects the liver and other organ systems, causing serious illness which is sometimes fatal. Adenovirus type 2 causes a respiratory illness and may be involved in the development of a kennel cough.
  • Parvovirus – A viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, and which can be fatal.
  • Parainfluenza – A viral disease affecting the respiratory system; may be involved in the development of a kennel cough.

List of Non-Core Dog Vaccines

  • Bordetella – A bacterial infection that can cause or contribute to a kennel cough.
  • Leptospirosis – A bacterial disease that affects several systems including the kidneys and liver; can be fatal. Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.
  • Lyme Disease – A bacterial disease spread by ticks that can cause arthritis and other problems such as kidney disease. Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.
  • Coronavirus – A viral disease that primarily causes diarrhea. The risks of coronavirus infection are not as great as other viral diseases, so The American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Vaccine Guidelines advise against routinely vaccinating for coronavirus. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.
  • Giardia – The American Animal Hospital Association also recommends against vaccinating for giardia, because the vaccine can prevent shedding of cysts but doesn’t prevent infection.​
  • Canine Influenza H3N8 – The canine H3N8 virus, also called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), is a relatively new influenza virus in dogs. It causes flu-like symptoms in dogs and is very contagious when dogs are in close contact (i.e. kennel). Due to the contagiousness of this virus, some kennels, grooming salons, and similar businesses are now requiring this vaccination to prevent an outbreak. Aside from those situations, the decision to vaccinate your dog (or not) should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Although these vaccines are not considered Core, they are very important for most dogs who may be exposed to these infectious diseases. At your dog’s next appointment, we will be happy to review which of the above make the most sense for your dog and make the appropriate recommendations.

When To Start Puppy Vaccinations

In general, a puppy should start vaccines as soon as you get the puppy (this is usually between 6 and 8 weeks) and then every three weeks until approximately four months of age when it will receive the final round. Generally, if the puppy’s mother has a healthy immune system, it will most likely receive antibodies in the mother’s milk while nursing. After a puppy has been weaned off of the mother’s milk, vaccinations should begin.

It is important to discuss you and your dog’s lifestyle with your veterinarian so that he or she can make appropriate recommendations for what vaccines are necessary to protect your dog. Apart from the necessary core vaccines there is no one size fits all protocol for vaccinating your dog.