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What Vaccines Do Dogs Need to Stay Healthy and Happy?


Is your dog up to date on vaccinations?

Vaccines keep our beloved pets healthy and happy, and they are required if you plan to bring your dog to certain places such as doggie daycare, groomers, dog parks, boarding facilities, or group housing. It’s especially important if you need to seek emergency shelter for your pet during or after a disaster.

Vaccination is important for keeping humans and pets healthy.

What are the core vaccines and additional vaccinations that can help keep your dog in tip-top shape?

The Truth about Vaccines

There are a lot of myths about vaccines. Too many, in fact. These are the facts about vaccines.

  1. Vaccines are much safer than the diseases they prevent.
  2. Vaccines are effective if stored properly and used by trained people.
  3. Vaccines protect millions of people and pets from nasty diseases.
  4. It’s far cheaper to give a vaccine than to treat the disease it’s designed to prevent.
  5. Vaccines do not cause diseases in people or pets.
  6. Puppies can handle the series of vaccines they need, per veterinary-recommended guidelines.
  7. Vaccines may cause your pup’s body to feel some symptoms that may resemble an illness. These are not life-threatening, and they usually last less than 1–3 days. These symptoms mean that the body’s natural immune system is getting itself ready for a real attack. A real infection can last 7–10 days or even longer and the infection can cause much, much worse symptoms than the response to the vaccine.
  8. Some vaccines may cause an allergic reaction for some pups. Symptoms usually show up in the first 15 minutes or so. Trained medical personnel can give treatments to manage those symptoms.
  9. Vaccines do not contain dangerous levels of toxins. There may be very small amounts of ingredients that seem toxic. For an ingredient to be toxic, it depends on its strength or dosage, how the body handles that kind of ingredient (through the liver or the kidneys), how quickly the body gets rid of the ingredient, how often the ingredient is given, and where the ingredient is introduced into the body. There is enough research done to know what levels are toxic and what levels are not.

What Are Vaccines? 

Vaccines help your dog’s body prepare to fight off nasty viruses and even some bacterial infections. Vaccines use your dog’s own natural immune defense systems to prepare their body for an attack by a live virus or bacterium.

Vaccines are developed by scientists with the knowledge they started developing early in their education. These scientists need specific education, and it’s a collaborative process. Each team member brings expertise in a small area of study, such as the following.

  • How and what part of a dog’s immune system works in response to a specific virus or bacterium
  • What part of the outside surface of the virus or bacterium is the right area to target to kill or make the virus or bacterium stop reproducing?
  • Test the vaccines to make sure they are safe and effective

Vaccines were developed to save lives and reduce suffering. There are many nasty viruses and other germs that can kill your dog or make them very sick if they are not vaccinated against them.

Vaccines have helped prevent the deaths of millions of pets by protecting them from disease. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can be spread to people, such as rabies, a deadly disease for any mammal.

The Importance of Vaccinations

Healthy pets are vaccinated. When vaccinated pets come into contact with contagions like rabies and distemper, they are able to fight off these diseases. Vaccinations can prevent your pet from getting sick and from passing diseases to people.

It’s also much more affordable to keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations than to treat a sick pet.

Puppies Need Shots

Just like all mammals, puppies get important antibodies from their mothers’ milk. So if your puppy nursed for the first few weeks of their life, they had a head start with these natural antibodies. But by the time a puppy is separated from their mother, they’ll need to see a veterinarian to start getting the long-term protection provided by vaccines.

Puppy vaccinations cost money, and they will need to get shots every 3 to 4 weeks at the beginning. It can be costly to vaccinate a puppy, so people may be tempted to skip a dose, but the puppy needs all the recommended core vaccinations to stay healthy.

When you talk to your vet about vaccines, they will discuss which vaccines your puppy should get, starting with the "core" vaccines.

Vaccine Recommendations

There are two different categories of vaccines: core and non-core vaccines. Whether a vaccine is considered core or non-core often depends on how common the diseases are in your area.

It’s not important for you to know all the vaccine types or when they need to be scheduled, other than for budgeting purposes. Your veterinarian will know which ones are important for your pup and what the ideal schedule is between shots.

If you have a limited budget, you can ask your veterinarian if you can spread out the vaccinations so that you don’t have to pay for everything on one trip to the vet. Your dog’s veterinarian can remind you when your dog needs the next shot to be safe against diseases.

Some vaccines are packaged together so that instead of giving separate injections to prevent each disease, they may be able to give fewer shots. Not all vaccines are packaged together. Your dog will be able to manage all vaccines in one day unless your veterinarian says otherwise.

If you really want to know more about the vaccines that are designed to prevent diseases in dogs, this WebMD article and the American Animal Hospital Association are excellent resources.

Core Vaccine Recommendations

Core vaccines are the ones that you really shouldn’t skip if you want your pet to stay healthy. Many places, like doggie daycares, boarding facilities, and dog parks, require core vaccines. In some places, it is against the law to live with unvaccinated pets.

Core vaccines include rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and adenovirus types 1 and 2. It’s not important for you to know all the vaccine types that are considered core vaccines.

Non-Core Vaccines

In addition to the core vaccines, your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccines based on where your pet lives or travels and on their lifestyle.

Non-core vaccines that are often recommended for dogs include those that prevent infections from leptospirosis, canine parainfluenza virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine influenza virus (CIV), and canine Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme).

A common non-core vaccine that boarding facilities, dog daycare facilities, and even dog parks require is to prevent Bordetella. While it’s not a dangerous disease, it leads to coughing, which is annoying for people to hear and for dogs to experience.

Lyme disease is becoming more common because ticks like warm weather, and the weather is getting and staying warmer in some areas, including Ohio. Also, there are more cases of leptospirosis cropping up, so more and more veterinarians are recommending vaccinations against this potentially deadly disease.

Geography and Lifestyle Matter

When you bring a puppy or dog into your life, you should talk to your vet about which vaccines are going to protect your dog based on where you live, whether your pet travels with you to different parts of the country (or to other countries), the dog’s lifestyle, and other risk factors.

No one’s pet should have to suffer from diseases that are preventable.

If you are concerned about the cost of vaccines and live in Northeast Ohio, don’t despair. One Health Veterinary Voucher Debit Cards help eligible households with up to $250 each one-year cycle, and they can be used to pay for any vaccinations.

When in doubt, vaccinate. Your pet’s health and life may depend on it.

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