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Answers from vets about your dog:

What Vaccinations Does My Adult Dog Need?

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Posted March 14, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dog being silly

Veterinary science, in conjunction with industry, has done a great job developing vaccines that are very safe and effective preventive measures. Vaccines keep your dog protected from serious infectious diseases. Diseases that, just a few years ago, were epidemics are now less common. It's not just a matter of more vaccines but also better vaccines that are more specific, provide longer protection, and allow your veterinarian to make recommendations appropriate for your pet.

Not all dogs need to be vaccinated for all diseases all the time. There are two general groupings of vaccinations: those that target “core” diseases and those that target “non-core” diseases.

Core vaccinations
Core vaccinations prevent diseases that are extremely widespread in their distribution and are easily transmitted. These diseases are commonly fatal or extremely difficult to treat effectively. One core disease—rabies, can be transmitted to humans with potentially deadly results. In summary, core diseases are the more contagious and severe diseases.

Core vaccines provide long term immunity, making yearly vaccination unnecessary. Core vaccines include:

Historically, these vaccines were recommended yearly but this is no longer the case. Duration of immunity from these vaccines has been proven to be at least 3 years. Rabies vaccines are sometimes administered more often based on state and provincial regulations. While not all vaccines carry a label that indicates they are effective for 3 years, current recommendations for core vaccines are that after the completion of an initial series, dogs should be revaccinated every 3 years.

Non-core vaccinations
Non-core vaccines protect against diseases that do not meet the core vaccine description. While all dogs are at risk for core diseases and must be vaccinated--risk of exposure, likelihood of infection, and severity of disease should be evaluated when making non-core vaccine recommendations. The indication for these vaccines should be based on a risk assessment that looks at local and regional incidence of the disease. The risk assessment should also take lifestyle into consideration. Non-core vaccinations may include:

These vaccines generally provide a shorter length of protective immunity, and dogs that are at risk for infection should be vaccinated every year.

How can you determine your dog’s risk of infection?
[Editor's Note: Having a conversation with your veterinarian is the number one way you can determine your dog's risk factors and which vaccines are recommended.]

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.