Vaccination is a very important part of preventative care that can protect your dog from many infectious diseases. Most veterinarians recommend starting puppy vaccinations between 6 and 9 weeks of age. Vaccines can be viewed as falling under two categories: core and non-core. Core vaccines are universally recommended, and include distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza (DHPP) and Rabies. DHPP vaccines are boostered every 3-4 weeks until usually 16 weeks of age, then every 1-3 years depending on your veterinarian's vaccine schedule policy. The rabies vaccination is administered once in puppyhood, then every 1-3 years for life. Individual veterinarians may also offer non-core vaccines to protect against kennel cough, Lyme disease, coronavirus, Leptospirosis and canine influenza depending on your dog's age, exposure risk and health status. Dogs can be exposed to diseases at grooming facilities, doggie daycare, dog parks, boarding facilities and any place dogs congregate.


Distemper: A life-threatening virus that causes upper respiratory signs, pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures.

Hepatitis (Adenovirus): Causes upper respiratory signs and progresses to liver failure for which there is not treatment.

Parvovirus: A life-threatening and highly contagious virus that causes severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea and sepsis. Requires prolonged nursing care and is often fatal even with treatment.

Para-influenza virus: Causes upper respiratory symptoms including cough and nasal discharge.

Rabies: A serious viral infection of the brain. Rabies is always fatal and can be spread to other animals and people through saliva. Infected animals are always euthanized.


Coronavirus: A virus that attacks the intestinal tract causing severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Bordatella: Causes a distinctive loud, dry, repetitive tracheal cough. This is the organism that causes 'Kennel cough' and is highly contagious. Especially important for dogs who stay in boarding kennels or visit groomers.

Leptospirosis: This vaccine is often included in the distemper combination. Leptospirosis is a life-threatening bacterial infection that causes liver and kidney failure. This infection can be spread to other pets and humans. Dogs exposed to water contaminated by the urine of wildlife or farm animals can contract this disease.

Lyme: A bacterial infection transmitted by a tick bite. Lyme is very prevalent in the north-eastern region of the United States. This disease causes fever, joint problems, and organ damage.

Canine influenza: This is a new disease caused by the N3H3 Type A influenza virus. It is highly contagious and often recommended at large boarding facilities and animal shelters. Canine influenza causes severe upper respiratory infections, fever and lethargy. Severe cases develop secondary bacterial infections and can be fatal.

Posted in: Dog Care