Vaccinations for Your Dog: the Upshot

Debate Continues to Rage Over the Need for Some Vaccinations

Opinions differ over the necessity of some dog vaccinations and the timeframe for vaccinating your dog. Consult your vet about your dog’s vaccinations.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) made headlines in 2003 when it published its vaccination recommendations. It suggested that a few vaccines are absolutely necessary, but some are only required in unique circumstances, and others should not be given at all.

The AAHA also recommended moving the "annual" vaccine to every three years. In 2006 they reconfirmed these recommendations.

The AAHA panel agreed that four core vaccines should be administered to every dog:

The AAHA assigned parainfluenza, bordetella, and Lyme disease to the noncore group. These are only to be used where exposure to the disease is likely.

If this weren't controversial enough, they stated that some vaccines are not recommended. For example, too few dogs succumb to coronavirus to justify vaccination. Even when the disease does occur, it is mild and self-limiting.

Leptospiral vaccines have a low efficacy (less than 75 percent), and most do not provide protection against the strains that currently cause disease in dogs. Giardia vaccines are also not endorsed by the AAHA. Though they may prevent shedding of the organism in the urine, they do not prevent infection.

Frequency of revaccination has been a hot topic for several years. The requirement for rabies has not changed. They are usually given once to puppies, boosted a year later, and then administered every three years.

The distemper combination vaccines are different. Some veterinarians are uncomfortable extending the vaccine interval past the traditional one year. Others embrace the AAHA recommendation to give the vaccine every three years.

Protection from bordetella only lasts 9 to 12 months, so it should be done annually or more often if there is a high risk (such as attending dog parks or doggie day cares).

Dog Park Etiquette

If you’re an urban or suburban dog owner, you’re likely familiar with the local dog park. It’s a canine oasis. The "Dog Park Etiquette" E-book outlines what you should consider before you bring your dog to the dog park.