What Vaccinations Do Dogs Need?

dog vaccinations

You’re not the first pet parent to wonder which vaccination your dog needs, if any. Since August is National Immunization Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to get answers to your questions.

While the information out there may feel overwhelming, we’ve broken it down so you’ll know if canine vaccines are effective, which vaccines your dog needs, and if there are any risks you should know about before you vaccinate Fido.

Are canine vaccines effective?

Yes! Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect your dog from dangerous diseases. In addition to proper nutrition and regular exercise, keeping your dog up to date on their vaccinations is essential to good health.

Vaccines work by activating your dog’s natural immune system to prepare to combat a particular disease. This makes it significantly less likely your dog will develop that disease at all, or if they do, the symptoms will be much less severe. According to Dr. Kate Creevy, an associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences:

“The diseases against which vaccinations have been developed are typically highly dangerous, highly contagious, or both. Vaccinations can protect pets from serious disease or potential death and can also minimize the spread of disease among pets.”

Which vaccines does my dog really need?

There are a few vaccines which are considered “core” and absolutely essentials for your dog to have. You will almost certainly be required to present proof of these vaccinations before taking your dog to a boarding, daycare or grooming location.

Canine Core Vaccines:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus/Hepatitis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus

Several of these vaccines are usually given together, in a combination vaccine known as DAPP or DHPP (Distemper, Adenovirus/Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus). 

There are several additional vaccines which may or may not be required, but are still a good choice to protect your best pal.

Canine Additional Vaccines:

  • Canine Influenza
  • Bordetella (causes “kennel cough”)
  • Leptospirosis
  • Borrelia (causes Lyme disease)

Most of these vaccines are administered as a quick injection, but some can be administered another way. For example, the Bordetella vaccine can be given as a nasal spray. The Leptospirosis vaccine is often given in combination with the DAPP vaccine, known as DAPPL.

Are there any risks of vaccines for my dog?

It’s reasonable to want to know all the risks before making a decision to vaccinate your dog. Fortunately, there’s very little risk of complications from canine vaccines, and the benefits far outweigh any risks. Several of the dangerous diseases that dogs are vaccinated against, such as Distemper, have no known cure and can be fatal. 

Vaccine side effects, on the other hand, are very rare. If your pup does have an adverse reaction to a vaccine, such as vomiting or diarrhea, symptoms will typically occur within 5-10 minutes. Your vet will typically ask you to remain at the clinic for 15 minutes following a vaccine, so they can be on hand in the unlikely chance this does occur.

Happily, almost all dogs have no reaction to vaccines whatsoever! After evaluating the risks and benefits, it has been shown that vaccinating your fur-babies is the safe and responsible choice. As Pet Vet Animal Hospital points out:

“Modern vaccines are safe and highly effective in safeguarding dogs and cats against potentially devastating diseases like Rabies. The risk of severe side effects is minuscule, and immunizations have proven time and time again to save lives.”

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, call your vet and make an appointment to check your dog’s vaccinations today!

If Fido does need to catch up on any vaccines, remember that it’s important to attend your follow-up appointments and not miss any dosages. Missing a dose makes your best buddy’s protection against dangerous diseases less effective.

Fortunately, many shelters and other pet organizations offer free or low-cost immunization clinics. These kinds of events keep the canine community of your entire town safe and healthy!

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