The vaccination protocol for dogs includes a variety of vaccines and circumstances for their delivery, resulting in a complicated overall potential program. Vaccines are considered core, required for all dogs regardless of circumstances, or non-core, only required for dogs with exposure or risk of specific diseases. Your veterinarian can assist with the nuances for the type and frequency for administration.
Basically, young puppies should receive a series of three core vaccines (canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus vaccines, in combination), four weeks apart, beginning at 6 – 8 weeks of age. Puppies must also receive a core rabies vaccination at not less than 12 weeks of age. All of these vaccinations should then be boosted at one year of age. After this initial protocol, vaccinations for adult dogs can be administered every three years (as long as the 3-year rabies vaccination is used). Adult dogs being vaccinated for the first time (or unknown vaccination history) should receive one dose of the core vaccine combination and one dose of core rabies vaccination. Subsequent vaccination with distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus vaccines can be at three year intervals, but the rabies vaccination must be boosted at one year, regardless of the product used. After this initial one year interval, subsequent rabies vaccination can be done at three year intervals, provided the 3-year vaccine is used. All rabies vaccinations must be administered by a veterinarian and a certificate is required for licensing your dog.
There are also a number of non-core vaccinations that are recommended in specific circumstances or areas of greater risk. Canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines are used to protect from ‘kennel cough’. They are available for both systemic injection or for intranasal administration. The intranasal product may provide more local immunity. There is also a Lyme Disease vaccine for dogs in regions of high exposure. If high exposure is expected, tick control should also be considered. A 4-way Leptospirosis vaccine is also available for animals exposed to wildlife in susceptible areas. All of these non-core vaccines should be administered annually if they are used. If you have questions about appropriate vaccinations for your location and situation, contact your veterinarian.
[based on 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines published in JAAHA 47:5 Sep/Oct 2011]