Dog Vaccination Principles

By Rachel Peeples, DVM, USA

Please note the following is based on disease levels and vaccine types available in the US. I will absolutely defer to veterinarians in any given geographical area for what is recommended for that area. Also note that the following assumes a healthy individual with no complicating factors. Like in previous posts let me stress how and when to vaccinate is unique to each situation.

  1. Principle 1: ALL vaccinations except Rabies need two initial shots given 3-5 weeks apart.
  2. Principle 2: Rabies is dictated by law and as such there is little to no option on how it is given (ie when or how often).
  3. Principle 3: ALL vaccinations should be boostered at 1 year from the Rabies vaccination.
  4. Principle 4: From that point forward vaccine booster intervals varies with the disease being vaccinated for and lifestyle.
  5. Principle 5: Puppies from well-vaccinated dams do not need to start vaccinations until a MINIMUM of 6 weeks.
  6. Principle 6: The LAST DHPP needs to be after 14 weeks Minimum.
  7. Puppy Vaccination Protocol:
    1. 6-8 weeks: DHPP (+/- C) – Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, parainfluenza +/- Corona.
    2. 9-11 weeks: DHPP (+/- C), Bordatella and Influenza IF needed.
    3. 12-14 weeks: DHPP (+/- C), Lepto vaccine if needed, Bordatella and Influenza booster if needed, Lyme if needed, Rabies IF Rabies at 3 months is the legal age.
    4. 15-17 weeks: DHPP (+/- C), Lepto booster if needed, Lyme booster if needed, Rabies if Rabies at 4 months is the legal age.
    5. 9 months: Bordatella booster if needed.
    6. 15-16 months: Rabies booster, DHPP(+/- C) booster; Lepto, Bordatella, Lyme, Influenza booster if needed.
  8. From this point forward things are less consistent. Legally in some places annual Rabies is needed, other places Rabies is every 3 years. Growing evidence supports DHPP(+/-C) every 2 or 3 or even 4 years (some places elect to do titers and vaccinate when antibody levels fall). Bordatella is needed every 6 months for the intranasal and annually for the injectable (which is much less protective than the internasal).
  9. Currently the influenza vaccine is every year. Lyme is annual. Lepto – in endemic areas is really needed
    every 3-4 months, areas of lower incidence it is needed annually.
  10. The Leptospirosis Bacterium comes in several distinctive types (called variants or serovars). Unfortunately immunity to one serovar does not provide protection to the other serovars. So most lepto vaccines contain multiple serovars to maximize protection. Even then there are some serovars that are not contained in the vaccine and, thus, the dog has no immunity to them.

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