Canine Vaccinations
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Canine Vaccinations

Canine Vaccinations; Core and Non-Core

Canine Vaccinations

These are only general guidelines, as the vaccine types recommended and the frequency of vaccination vary depending on the lifestyle of the pet being vaccinated, i.e. indoor vs outdoor pets, travel plans, kennel/boarding plans, and underlying disease conditions such as immune-mediated diseases or pre-existing infections. Because these factors may change over time, we recommend the vaccination plan for each individual pet be decided by the owner and veterinarian at routine annual examinations, following a discussion regarding the animal’s lifestyle. A previous history of vaccination reactions in an individual pet will also affect recommendations for vaccination. For all vaccines given, the product, expiration date, lot number, route, and location of injection must be documented in the record. It should also be noted that much research in the area of companion animal vaccinology is required to generate optimal recommendations for vaccination of dogs and cats.


Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs with an unknown vaccination history. The diseases involved have significant morbidity and mortality and are widely distributed, and in general, vaccination results in relatively good protection from disease.

  • Canine Rabies Virus Vaccines

We recommend that puppies receive a single dose of killed rabies vaccine at approximately 16 weeks, or around 3-4 months of age. Adult dogs with unknown vaccination history should also receive a single dose of killed rabies vaccine. A booster is required one year later, and thereafter, rabies vaccination should be performed every 3 years using a vaccine approved for 3-year administration.

  • Canine Parvovirus, Distemper Virus, and Adenovirus-2 Vaccines

For initial puppy vaccination (< 16 weeks), one dose of vaccine containing modified live virus (MLV) CPV, CDV, and CAV-2 is recommended every 3-4 weeks from 6-8 weeks of age, until approximately 16 weeks of age. 

For dogs older than 16 weeks of age, two doses of vaccine containing a modified live virus given 3-4 weeks apart are recommended. After a booster one year later, re-vaccination is recommended every 3 years thereafter, ideally using a product approved for 3-year administration, unless there are special circumstances that warrant more or less frequent re-vaccination.

  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica

These are both agents associated with 'kennel cough' or canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) in dogs. For Bordetella bronchiseptica, mucosal vaccination with live bacteria is recommended for dogs expected to board, be shown, frequent dog parks, or to enter a kennel situation. We currently provide the intranasal vaccine containing both Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV). For puppies and previously unvaccinated dogs, only one dose of this vaccine is required. Most boarding kennels require that this vaccine be given within 6 months of boarding; the vaccine should be administered at least one week prior to the anticipated boarding date for maximum effect. Although some kennels require immunization every 6 months, annual booster vaccination with Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines is considered adequate for protection.

Non-Core Vaccines

Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered based on geographic distribution and the lifestyle of the pet. Several of the diseases involved are often self-limiting or respond readily to treatment. Vaccines considered as non-core vaccines are canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV), canine influenza virus H3N8, canine influenza virus H3N2, distemper-measles combination vaccine, Bordetella, and Borrelia burgdorferi.


  • Canine Leptospirosis  Vaccines

Multiple Leptospira serovars can cause disease in dogs, and minimal cross-protection is induced by each serovar. Currently available vaccines do not contain all serovars, and duration of immunity is about 1 year. In addition, the disease can be fatal or have high morbidity, and has zoonotic (infecting humans) potential. Therefore, we suggest annual vaccination of all dogs with vaccines containing all four Leptospira serovars (Grippotyphosa, Pomona, Canicola and Icterohaemorrhagiae). The initial vaccination should be followed by a booster 2-4 weeks later, and the first vaccine be given no earlier than 12 weeks of age. In general, Leptospira vaccines have been associated with more severe post vaccinal reactions than other vaccines. The recent introduction of vaccines with reduced amounts of foreign protein has reduced this problem. Reaction rates for vaccines containing Leptospira, while higher than those for vaccines that do not contain Leptospira, are still low in incidence.


  • Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)

Canine influenza virus H3N8 emerged in the United States in greyhounds in Florida in 2003. The virus is now enzootic (regularly affecting animals in a certain population) in many dog populations in Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The virus causes upper respiratory signs including a cough, nasal discharge, and a low-grade fever followed by recovery. A small percentage of dogs can develop more severe signs. Canine influenza virus H3N2 emerged in 2015 in Illinois and has spread to several other states, including California. Disease caused by CIV H3N2 may be slightly more severe than that caused by CIV H3N8, and the virus has affected more dogs in veterinary hospitals and the community (H3N8 has largely remained confined to shelters). Vaccines for both infections are commercially available, including a combination H3N8/H3N2 vaccine. Use of the H3N2 vaccine may be warranted for dogs that contact other dogs, such as those that board.


  • Canine Distemper-Measles Combination Vaccine

This vaccine has been used between 4 and 12 weeks of age to protect dogs against distemper in the face of maternal antibodies directed at CDV. Protection occurs within 72 hours of vaccination. It is indicated only for use in households/kennels/shelters where CDV is a recognized problem. Only one dose of the vaccine should be given, after which pups have received a booster with the CDV vaccine to minimize the transfer of anti-measles virus maternal antibodies to pups of the next generation.


Canine Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme) Vaccine

Use of the vaccine even in endemic areas (such as the east coast of the US) has been controversial because of anecdotal reports of vaccine-associated adverse events. Most infected dogs show no clinical signs, and the majority of dogs contracting Lyme disease respond to treatment with antimicrobials. Furthermore, prophylaxis may be effectively achieved by preventing exposure to the tick vector. If travel to endemic areas (i.e. the East Coast) is anticipated, vaccination could be considered, followed by boosters at intervals in line with risk of exposure.


Other Canine Vaccines

These are vaccines for canine coronavirus, canine adenovirus 1, and rattlesnake envenomation (rattle snake bites). The reports of the AVMA and the AAHA canine vaccine task force have listed these three vaccines as not generally recommended, because ‘the diseases are either of little clinical significance or respond readily to treatment’, evidence for efficacy of these vaccines is minimal, and they may ‘produce adverse events with limited benefit’.

Canine Enteric Coronavirus Vaccine

Infection with canine enteric coronavirus (CCV) alone has been associated with mild disease only, and only in dogs < 6 weeks of age. It has not been possible to reproduce the infection experimentally, unless immunosuppressive doses of glucocorticoids are administered. Serum antibodies do not correlate with resistance to infection, and duration of immunity is unknown. In mixed infections with CCV and canine parvovirus (CPV), CPV is the major pathogen. Vaccination against CPV protects puppies from disease following challenge with both canine enteric coronavirus and CPV.


Canine Rattlesnake Vaccine

The canine rattlesnake vaccine comprises venom components from Crotalus Atrox (western diamondback). Although a rattlesnake vaccine may be potentially useful for dogs that frequently encounter rattlesnakes. Dogs develop neutralizing antibody titers to Crotalus Atrox venom and may also develop antibody titers to components of other rattlesnake venoms, but research in this area is ongoing. Owners of vaccinated dogs must still seek veterinary care immediately in the event of a bite, because:

1. The type of snake is often unknown.

2. Antibody titers may be overwhelmed in the face of severe envenomation.

3. An individual dog may lack enough protection depending on its response to the vaccine and the time elapsed since vaccination.

According to the manufacturer, to date, rare vaccinated dogs have died following a bite when there were substantial delays (12-24 hours) in seeking treatment. Boosters are recommended at least annually while dogs remain at risk.

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