Keeping your dog vaccinated plays a key role in securing their long-term health and wellbeing. Generally, dog vaccinations are divided into two different categories. Those categories are core and non-core vaccines. Although there were a few isolated cases of side reactions from these vaccinations, vets still encourage pet owners to do them, because the benefits are worth the small risk. Even though these cases do happen, they are rare.

This article is going to explore the critical core vaccines that are most important for protecting your dog’s health. It will also cover five non-core vaccines that your furry companion may benefit from depending on your location and their risk factors. All of the vaccines reviewed will include the initial adult vaccination schedule and booster recommendations.

The Best Dog Vaccinations to Consider

a medium-sized bulldog starring at the camera

1. Rabies

Rabies is a fatal infection in dogs that can only be prevented with appropriate vaccinations. Vaccines come in both single year and three-year varieties. Ask your vet which one is most suitable for your area based on current laws and regulations.

  • Initial Vaccination: Single dose.
  • Booster Recommendation: Available annually or every three years.
  • Core Vaccine? Yes.

2. Distemper

Distemper is an airborne virus that spreads fairly easily. Symptoms include high fever, eye & nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, and more. The disease has a high mortality rate and often results in permanent brain damage. This is why it is considered one of the core dog vaccinations in most areas.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: At least every three years or more often depending on the state.
  • Core Vaccine? Yes.

3. Parvovirus

Parvovirus is another disease that is often fatal if untreated. General symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The disease is also very contagious. This is why it is included in many dog vaccinations.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: At least every three years or more often depending on the state.
  • Core Vaccine? Yes.

4. Adenovirus Type 1

This virus is the canine equivalent of hepatitis. It is spread via infected urine and feces. Unprotected dogs can be easily exposed to it in the outside environment. The disease can ultimately lead to liver damage and eventual death. This disease can be very serious and have significant consequences. This is why it is mandatory in many dog vaccinations.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: At least every three years or more often depending on the state.
  • Core Vaccine? Yes.

5. Adenovirus Type 2

a doctor holding a syringe

This is another strain of the previous virus. It can still cause liver damage and death. However, it is transmitted completely differently. This version can be spread via coughing and sneezing. Dogs that frequent kennels and parks may have an increased risk of exposure due to airborne transmission. This is the last of the core dog vaccinations.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: At least every three years or more often depending on the state.
  • Core Vaccine? Yes.

6. Parainfluenza

Parainfluenza is generally not fatal. However, it spreads very easily when dogs are kept in close proximity. The virus causes a cough, fever, and general lack of appetite. It can be prevented with adequate vaccination.

  • Initial Vaccination: One dose.
  • Booster Recommendation: Varies depending on the manufacturer. Protection last between one and three years.
  • Core Vaccine? No.

7. Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This disease is more often referred to as a kennel cough. As the name implies, it is often seen in dogs that have recently been boarded or have been to showings. The illness is usually not fatal. However, most veterinarians will recommend vaccination prior to potential exposure.

  • Initial Vaccination: One dose for intranasal formula, two doses for injected variety.
  • Booster Recommendation: Every six months or annually depending on dog’s risk factors.
  • Core Vaccine? No.

8. Lyme Disease

This vaccination is generally only recommended for dogs that live in high-risk areas that are prone to ticks. In the United States, the riskiest areas are generally in the northeast. Other areas of concern include some southern states and California. If you aren’t sure if your area is impacted, consult with your veterinarian.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 2-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: Annual vaccination depending on the risk of exposure.
  • Core Vaccine? No.

9. Leptospirosis

This disease can often result in permanent kidney and liver damage for your dog. The disease is contracted via exposure to contaminated water sources. This can often include standing bodies of water and lakes. To determine if your dog should receive this vaccine, consult with your veterinarian. They will ask about you and your dog’s activities to determine their risk factors.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 2-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: Annual vaccination is generally sufficient.
  • Core Vaccine? No.

10. Canine Influenza

Canine Influenza is not often fatal. The symptoms are very similar to a kennel cough, and most dogs recover quickly. However, infirm and elderly dogs can benefit from the protection of this vaccination. Protection lasts for approximately one year.

  • Initial Vaccination: Two doses spaced 2-4 weeks apart.
  • Booster Recommendation: Annual vaccination provides sufficient protection.
  • Core Vaccine? No.

Remember, most fatal diseases can be prevented with appropriate dog vaccinations. The core vaccines reviewed in this article are generally required by most states. The non-core vaccines are often recommended on a case by case basis based on your veterinarian’s instructions. It is important to ensure your dog is appropriately vaccinated at all times.

Feel free to discuss the importance of these dog vaccinations with your vet during your next visit. For those of you who recently had your dog vaccinated, we would love to hear about your experience below.

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