Vaccinations for Your Dog: Where to Begin

Vaccinations for Your Dog: Where to Begin

Posted by Dr. Susan O'Dell on 27th February 2017

You've adopted the greatest dog. He loves to walk, loves to snuggle, and he is
already house trained. Now how are you
going to keep this sweet little fuzz face healthy? Vaccines are an essential component of a
preventive veterinary health care program.
They are the single best way to keep your dog healthy and protected from
preventable diseases. Dogs should be
vaccinated from the time they are tiny puppies straight through adulthood. However, not every dog should receive the
same vaccines at the same intervals. The
best vaccination plan is tailored to your individual pooch and balances disease
protection with the risk of side effects from the vaccines.

Vaccines can be split into core and non-core categories. Veterinarians
recommend core vaccines for every furry companion regardless of her lifestyle
and geographic location. Non-core
vaccines may be considered depending on the risk of exposure for your pup.

Rabies – This is a virus that causes
severe neurologic impairment leading to death.
This is the only vaccine required by law because it is also fatal to
humans. It is a core vaccine.

Distemper – The distemper vaccine is a
combination of canine distemper virus, infectious hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Veterinarians recommend the distemper
combination vaccine for every dog because each of these contagious diseases can
inflict serious harm or even death, and they can be found throughout the
country. This is a core vaccine.

Leptospirosis – This bacterium is found
primarily in standing water sources like ponds, wetlands, or even puddles and
bird baths. Hunting dogs and active
outdoor dogs are all more likely to contract leptospirosis. It is a non-core vaccine.

Lyme – Lyme disease is a bacterial
infection transmitted through tick bites.
It is especially prevalent in the New England states. This is a non-core
vaccine.

Bordetella and
Canine Influenza

– Both Bordetella and canine influenza are airborne diseases that are easily
spread in close contact environments like boarding facilities, daycares, and
groomers. Dogs exposed to these
situations may benefit from this protection.
These are non-core vaccines.

Deciding which vaccines are right for your dog
is a choice that should be made with your veterinarian. You must work together to evaluate your pet's
lifestyle and develop an individualized vaccine plan. Our preventive health
goal is to provide appropriate protection for Bowser while minimizing his exposure
to unnecessary vaccination.


Dr. Susan O'Dell grew up in Michigan, where she received her Bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Michigan and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduating, she has practiced at animal hospitals all across New England, with a particular focus on educating small animal clients.

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