what you need to know about your dog’s vaccines

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What you need to know about vaccines for dogs
Posted by fetch! blog editors on Mar 14 2019

With measles outbreaks and speculation surrounding the potential causes of autism, vaccines have been getting a lot of attention in recent years. And, all that attention is transcending species, as some pet owners look to Dr. Google for advice on how to provide the best care for their furry companions.

To shed some fact-based light on the issue, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) created the 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines. If you own a dog, here’s what you need to know about your canine friend’s vaccines:

#1: Vaccines should be tailored to your dog

Not all dogs need every vaccine. There are “core” and “noncore” vaccines. Core vaccines are recommended for every dog, while noncore vaccines are only recommended for dogs at risk for contracting specific diseases. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor an individualized vaccination plan for her.

#2: Vaccine frequency should be tailored to your dog 

How often should your dog’s vaccines be boostered? A dog’s immunity is as individual as she is, so one way to determine if your dog is protected is to have a titer performed. Titers, or quantitative antibody testing, can help determine your dog’s protection from some diseases. A positive result typically means your dog is protected, but no test is 100% accurate. In these cases, your veterinarian may still recommend vaccinating—especially in areas where certain diseases are common.

Some vaccines may need to be boostered annually for at-risk dogs, including Lyme disease, leptospirosis, influenza, and Bordetella. Others—like the distemper vaccine—can be given every three years after your dog has completed her initial series of inoculations.

#3: Your dog is required by law to be vaccinated against rabies

Rabies is a fatal disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva. The good news: It is entirely preventable with the rabies vaccine, which is required by law in all 50 US states. Learn the specifics about the rabies laws in your state at rabiesaware.org.

#4: Serious reactions to vaccines are rare

The risks of not vaccinating your dog far outweigh the risks of vaccinating your dog. But, if your dog begins vomiting and scratching, develops bumps (hives) or facial swelling, or has difficulty breathing within a few hours of being vaccinated, call your veterinarian.

You and your veterinary healthcare team have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your pet. AAHA’s guidelines can help.

As the only organization that accredits veterinary hospitals in the US and Canada, the American Animal Hospital Association sets the standard for excellence in veterinary care for companion animals. Learn more about the AAHA Standards of Accreditation and how they impact the veterinary care your pet receives by visiting aaha.org.