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A complete list of vaccines your dog needs

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, pets...

Keep your dog healthy

Do you know what vaccines your dog needs and when?
Keep your dog healthy

Preventive care, including wellness checkups and vaccines, is the easiest and most wallet-friendly way to make sure your four-legged friend stays in good health. The list of vaccines your dog needs, however, is sometimes confusing. Corey Shagensky, DMV, founder and owner of Progressive Animal Wellness (PAW) in Avon, Connecticut, help us put together a list of what your pup needs and when, according to the 2011 guidelines provided by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

According to the AAHA, there are two types of vaccines. Core vaccines are those that should be given to every dog. Non-core vaccines are given when the situation deems it necessary.

Core vaccines


The rabies vaccine protects your dog against infection of the rabies virus. It is given to puppies at 12 weeks old, with booster shots at one year and every three years after that. "The rabies vaccine is critical, not just for the health of cats, dogs and livestock, but for public health in general," said Shagensky. "Rabies has essentially been eliminated from the dog and cat populations in the United States. This provides a crucial barrier against human rabies infection, since pets are the animals with which people most commonly come in contact."

DA22P (distemper)

The DA22P vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects your dog from many serious illnesses, the most common of which is distemper. According to Shagensky, distemper is a viral disease that affects both the immune and neurological systems, and it can be rapidly fatal. The DA22P also protects from adenovirus-2, parvovirus and parainfluenza — all of which range from serious to potentially fatal to your canine. This vaccine starts around 6 to 8 weeks old and is given every three to four weeks until the puppy is 14 to 16 weeks old. It is given as a booster shot at one year, and again every three years.

Non-core vaccines

Bordatella (kennel cough)

The bordatella vaccine protects against a highly contagious bacteria that causes respiratory tract infections in dogs. "At PAW, we consider this a 'semi-core' vaccine, in that we give it to all puppies, along with one of their DA2PP vaccines. We then booster it yearly for dogs who spend any time at daycare, kennels, boarding facilities, dog shows or some groomers," said Shagensky.

Canine influenza

Canine influenza is an emerging disease that, according to Shagensky, only affects dogs in some parts of the country right now. "Dogs who live in these areas who go to places where there are a lot of dogs indoors at once (kennels, daycare, dog shows, etc.) should get this. It protects against a highly contagious respiratory disease that has about a 5 percent mortality rate," he said. Local veterinarians can advise whether this disease has been noted in your region and determine whether the vaccine is needed for your dog.

Lyme vaccine

The Lyme vaccine provides about 85 to 90 percent protection against Lyme disease in dogs in areas with ticks and where the disease is present, according to Shagensky. "Some dogs do not produce a good response to the vaccine," he added. "Therefore, even though the vaccine is licensed for one year, some dogs may need to receive this vaccine every six to nine months to maintain adequate protection."


Leptospirosis, a disease mostly unknown to the general public, is caused by a bacterial infection spread through the urine of wildlife (usually rodents). An infection can cause serious liver and/or kidney damage and is potentially transmissible to people. Shagensky says dogs exposed to wildlife or any outdoor water sources may be at risk for this infection. Ask your vet if "lepto" is prevalent in your area, and if your dog is at risk.

Crotalid (rattlesnake) venom toxoid

"This vaccine should be administered to dogs that may be exposed to western diamondback rattlesnakes," said Shagensky. Two doses are given after 4 months of age, and then annually. He warns that even with the vaccine, dogs who actually receive a bite must still receive immediate medical attention.

Find a vet near you

Partners for Healthy Pets is a non-profit initiative that works with veterinarians and other animal care companies to ensure animals are getting the preventative health care they need. Visit their website to find a trustworthy vet in your area.

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