Vaccination is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your dog’s health. Yet in this age of “overvaccination” scares and “Dr. Google,” some pet owners are hesitant to vaccinate their dogs—even when it’s in their best interest.
Get a rabies vaccine for your dog—it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal—and preventable—disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva, so it’s mandatory in all 50 US states. Your veterinarian is bound by law to give your dog a rabies vaccine to protect you as well as your pet.
Not all dogs need every vaccine. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor the perfect vaccination plan for him. Factors such as whether your dog visits dog parks, groomers, competes in dog shows, swims in freshwater lakes, help you and your veterinarian develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.
There are “core” and “noncore” vaccines. Vaccinations are designated as either core, meaning they are recommended for every dog, or noncore, which means they are recommended for dogs at risk for contracting a specific disease. However, your veterinarian may reclassify a “noncore” vaccine as “core” depending on your dog’s age, lifestyle, and where you live—for instance, in a region like New England where Lyme disease is prevalent, that vaccine may be considered “core.”
Core Vaccines Noncore Vaccines
• Combination vaccine:
o Distemper / Adenovirus-2 / Parvovirus +/- Parainfluenza o Bordetella bronchiseptica +/- Parainfluenza
• Leptospira 4-serovars
• Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
• Canine Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)
Titers, or quantitative antibody testing, can help determine your dog’s protection from some diseases. Titer testing can be useful when a dog’s vaccination history for distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus is unknown—a positive result typically means he is considered protected. However, no test is 100% accurate, so in areas where these diseases run rampant, your veterinarian may still recommend vaccinating.
**You and your veterinary team should have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your pets. NEVER be afraid to voice concerns and/or questions**