What Vaccinations Do All Dogs Need?

And which one’s required by law? 👩‍⚕️

dog vaccinations

As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard all about how important it is to vaccinate your dog. But the list of available dog vaccines seems like it’s never-ending. Does your dog really need them all?

There are some vaccines (aka core vaccines) that all dogs should definitely get, while there are others (aka non-core vaccines) that are only necessary in certain situations.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Sarah Wooten, a veterinarian on staff with Pumpkin Pet Insurance, who explained which vaccines you absolutely should give your dog and how to figure out which ones to skip.

Which dog vaccines are absolutely necessary?

“According to the American Animal Hospital Association guidelines, all dogs should receive core vaccines,” Dr. Wooten told The Dodo.

Core vaccines are the ones that protect against the following viral diseases:

These vaccines are so important that it’s recommended every dog receive these vaccines.

The rabies vaccine is the most crucial and, in a lot of cases, it’s actually required by law.

Why are core vaccines for dogs so important?

Vaccines are considered core when they protect your dog against diseases that are pretty much everywhere, highly contagious to other animals, super serious (even fatal) and could end up spreading to humans.

“Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on risk of exposure, severity of disease or transmissibility to humans,” Dr. Wooten said.

That’s why the list of core vaccines for dogs is short but super important.

“For dogs, vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis [aka adenovirus] and rabies are considered core vaccines,” Dr. Wooten said. “Rabies vaccine laws vary by state, so check with your local authorities.”

Vaccines for distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus 2 are often bundled together into one injection (aka the DA2P vaccine), and the rabies vaccination is administered by itself.

Non-core vaccines for dogs

Vaccines that are non-core prevent diseases that aren’t as widespread, aren’t as dangerous or are only a risk in certain situations.

“Non-core vaccines are administered based on an individual dog’s risk of exposure,” Dr. Wooten said.

That doesn’t mean non-core vaccines aren’t important. It just means you should know when your pup needs one and when he can skip it.

“The decision to administer non-core vaccines to your dog is a personal decision made by you and informed by your veterinarian,” Dr. Wooten said. “Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on local or regional diseases, the risks to your dog and the benefits of the vaccine.”

According to Dr. Wooten, non-core dog vaccines include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine parainfluenza
  • Leptospira
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (the causative agent of Lyme disease)
  • Canine influenza virus H3N8
  • Canine influenza virus H3N2
  • Crotalus atrox (rattlesnake vaccine)

The parainfluenza vaccine is sometimes included in a combination injection that includes core vaccines for distemper, adenovirus 2 and parvovirus (aka the DHPP vaccine). However, parainfluenza isn’t actually a core vaccine on its own.

“Parainfluenza causes kennel cough, which is like a contagious cold in dogs,” Dr. Wooten said. “It is rarely serious or lethal, but it is common. Parainfluenza is not considered a core vaccine because it does not fit the criteria.”

While it’s really up to you whether or not you want to get your pup a non-core vaccine, keep in mind that some businesses in your area may require certain shots if you want to bring your dog there.

“Boarding facilities and doggy day cares often require non-core vaccines such as lepto [aka leptospira] and influenza,” Dr. Wooten said.

Also, be sure to check with your vet before traveling with your pup. Some states require proof of certain non-core vaccines upon entry.

Now that you know there are certain vaccines that all dogs need and others your pup might also need, depending on the circumstances, planning out his vaccination schedule will seem way less daunting (and way less expensive).

And you’ll have the comfort of knowing you’re protecting your dog from all the dangerous diseases he might encounter.

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