What You Need to Know about Dog Vaccinations

March 9, 2017

dog vaccinationsThe topic of dog vaccinations produces a multitude of opinions in dog owners and canine professionals. Some believe firmly that all dogs should receive all the vaccinations required by law, as well as a few suggested tones. Others prefer their pets to receive titer tests to determine whether or not their dogs even need certain injections. The subject, while controversial, is one all pet owners should study and then decide for themselves which vaccinations best work for their dogs.

Each state has its own requirements, so be sure to confirm canine laws where you live. Said laws also depend on the animal’s age. Your veterinarian is the best person to guide you. However, in my 45 years of pet ownership, only once has a veterinarian suggested to me that a vaccine might not be necessary…that my pet could receive a titer test first to determine immunity.

Vaccinations are important for dogs and puppies.

Puppies should receive the core vaccines. Core vaccines include Rabies, canine parvo virus, distemper and canine hepatitis and all dogs should receive those preventative innoculations, because the diseases can kill both puppies and dogs if they are not immunized.

Non-Core vaccines are somewhat optional and circumstances in the dog’s life should determine if he receives the vaccination. For example, if a you live in an area where there are a lot of cases of a particular disease, you might want your pet vaccinated to avoid that one. Bordatella (also known as Kennel Cough) would be necessary in certain conditions, although it isn’t considered a Core vaccine. If you plan to board your dog at a kennel, all reputable kennels require proof of innoculation against Bordatella. If your pet plays at a dog park with other animals, vaccinating him for Bordatella might be a good idea.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect canines with access to standing water. Even standing puddles of water can harbor the bacteria. The Lepto vaccine is a non-core vaccination, but many veterinarians recommend it. Years ago, my Blue Great Dane Coby was just 9 weeks old and ready for his second set of vaccinations. My wonderful mobile vet, Dr. Janet Childs, came to our home and did her job and left. Fortunately, we had a visitor that day who was cuddling my puppy after his veterinary exam and injections. Nancy was an RN and observant about canine health. Shortly after the vet left, she noticed that Coby’s gums were turning blue. We called the vet immediately and she returned to give our fur-baby an injection to counter-act his obvious negative reaction to his vaccinations. It was later determined that he reacted to the Leptospirosis vaccine. Dr. Childs said at the time that she would rather treat the disease than go through that scary experience again. Coby never received another Lepto vaccination. However, our other dogs prior to Coby had no problem with it. Our pets were never boarded at a kennel, so we also chose not to vaccinate for Bordatella. Each dog is different and you have to decide what is best for your pet. Just be sure to include your veterinarian in the discussion.

Non-Core vaccines include protection from Bordatella, Leptospirosis, Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) and Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria responsible for Lyme Disease in canines. The vaccines are not always effective in preventing these diseases than are the Core vaccines.

dog vaccinations

Dogs are like humans in that they need certain vaccinations to ward off diseases that could be life-threatening. According to pets.webmd.com, “vaccines help the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms.”

Make your decisions regarding said vaccines based on your dog’s breed, where and how your dog lives, and the opinion of your veterinarian.


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