by Jennifer Chaitman, VMD, ACVIM (Internal Medicine)
In recent years many things have changed in the world of vaccines. More vaccines are available now than ever before, we now have the ability to easily measure antibody titers to various vaccines, and we now recognize several disease states associated with vaccines and over-vaccination. Just because a vaccine is available doesn't mean a dog should get it, and just because vaccines can be dangerous doesn't mean dogs should not be vaccinated at all. The veterinarian should make an assessment of the dog and its environment and determine the vaccines to be given based on the risk of exposure and the risk to the patient of being vaccinated.
Below are guidelines established by the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force in 2006. It is separated into core vaccines (those most important based on risk, severity of disease and seriousness if transmitted to humans (rabies), and noncore vaccines. Canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus-2, and rabies are the core vaccines. Modified live viruses are recommended over killed vaccines. Killed rabies vaccines are the only types available in the US. Rabies vaccine guidelines are dictated by state law and below are the recommendations in New York State. Recent studies measuring antibodies to vaccines show that most dogs, after their one year booster, maintain sufficient titers for three years.
Core Canine Vaccines and Recommendations for Administration
Primary Puppy Series (<16 weeks)
Primary Adult Series (>16 weeks)
Distemper recombinant or modified-live
Administer one dose at 6-8 weeks of age then every 3-4 weeks until 14-16 weeks of age.
Administer two doses 3-4 weeks apart.
Administer one dose 1 year following completion of the initial series and then every 3 years thereafter.
Rabies Killed-1 year Killed-3 year
Administer one dose at 12-16 weeks of age. (Although the state asks that it be administered earlier).
Administer one dose.
Administer one dose 1 year following administration of the first dose and then every 3 years thereafter.
Noncore or Optional Vaccines
The following vaccines are noncore: Bordatella bronchiseptica, distemper-measles, parainfluenza virus, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme borreliosis) and Leptospira interrogans (all four serovars).