Dogs are highly skilled at sniffing out all sorts of things, from the neighbor’s steak sizzling on the grill, to the fresh deposit your cat just made in the litter box. Your pooch can also put their nose in the wrong spot, being exposed to infectious diseases and parasites. Fortunately, by staying on top of your dog’s wellness care, you can help prevent them from contracting serious illness. 

Part of your dog’s most essential wellness care is regular vaccination. The vaccines your dog should receive are based on a variety of factors, and not every dog needs the same vaccinations. Your pet’s immunizations are divided into core and noncore vaccines, which defend against various infectious diseases that range in severity and treatability. Read our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team’s guidelines to essential vaccinations for dogs, and prevent your furry pal from contracting infectious diseases while they explore the world around them.

What is the difference between core and noncore vaccinations for dogs?

During your dog’s wellness visit, our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers veterinarian will tell you about core and noncore vaccinations. Core vaccinations are those that every pet needs, regardless of lifestyle and exposure risk. Noncore vaccinations are tailored to your pet’s specific needs, and our team only administers them if your four-legged friend has the potential to contract a specific disease. 

What are core vaccinations for dogs?

Core vaccinations should be administered to all dogs, unless they have a medical condition that precludes them from being vaccinated. If your dog has an autoimmune disease, has experienced a severe allergic reaction to previous vaccinations, or has cancer, your veterinarian will likely recommend titer testing rather than vaccination. However, if your dog is healthy enough to be vaccinated, their core vaccination protocol will include:

  • Distemper — Highly contagious in unvaccinated puppies and adult dogs, distemper is often fatal. This disease can affect the gastrointestinal (GI), respiratory, and nervous systems. Even if your dog survives a case of distemper, the condition can cause them lifelong neurologic issues.
  • Adenovirus (i.e., canine infectious hepatitis) — Adenovirus type 1 causes a multitude of signs, affecting an infected dog’s liver, kidneys, eyes, and respiratory tract.
  • Parvovirus — Exceptionally contagious, parvovirus can be fatal without treatment, particularly in young puppies. This disease attacks the intestinal tract and bone marrow, causing severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea.
  • Rabies — A virus that causes neurologic disease, rabies is ultimately fatal in infected pets and people. Rabies is typically spread through an infected animal’s bite.

What are noncore vaccinations for dogs?

Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team will administer your dog’s noncore vaccinations based on your pet’s lifestyle, health status, and risk level. In addition to receiving core vaccinations, your dog may benefit from the following noncore vaccinations:

  • Leptospira — Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that a dog can contract by coming in contact with a contaminated puddle or body of water where an infected animal has urinated. This disease can cause kidney or liver failure. In addition, your dog can transmit leptospirosis to you.
  • Lyme disease — A tick-borne illness, Lyme disease can cause shifting leg lameness, fever, lethargy, and inappetence. Severe cases can result in kidney failure.
  • Bordetella (i.e., kennel cough) — Bordetella is extremely contagious and can spread like wildfire among dogs in boarding facilities. Although bordetella typically resolves on its own, the illness can cause your dog to develop pneumonia.
  • Canine influenza — An upper respiratory illness, canine influenza is highly contagious and causes coughing, nasal discharge, and low-grade fever.

How often should my dog be vaccinated?

When your puppy is born, their maternal antibodies protect them from disease. However, as a puppy grows, this disease defense slowly wanes, and vaccines are administered to build up the pooch’s immune system. Certain core canine vaccinations begin when a puppy is as young as 6 weeks of age, and are administered two to four weeks apart until the dog reaches 16 weeks. A full series of three combination vaccines (i.e., distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus vaccine) are administered during this age range to ensure a puppy is fully protected.

After your puppy’s initial vaccination series, they will require boosters in one year, then every three years thereafter. According to Texas state law, a rabies vaccination must be administered by 4 months of age, then at regular intervals as prescribed by department rule. Most noncore vaccinations are administered as an initial dose, followed by a booster in two to four weeks. Then, annual booster vaccinations are administered based on your pet’s risk.

Ensure your dog visits your Neighborhood Veterinary Centers veterinarian annually for vaccinations and comprehensive physical examinations. To ensure your canine friend stays protected from infectious diseases, call to schedule your dog’s next wellness exam.