Vaccinating your Dog: Core versus Non-Core Vaccines

IMG 6606 300x200 International veterinary panel recommendations distinguish between core and non-core vaccines. The former are recommended for all pets, the latter are recommended only under certain circumstances. Vaccinations are considered core when the disease is life-threatening, if no cure exists or treatment is usually ineffective, or if there is a risk to humans if the disease is not controlled (i.e. rabies). Core vaccinations in dogs include rabies, distemper, adenovirus type-2, parvovirus, and parainfluenza virus, with the latter four comprising the “DA2PP” combination vaccination.  All other vaccines are considered non-core. You should discuss your pet’s specific risk of exposure and disease with your veterinarian to decide which are appropriate to administer.

Non-core Vaccines in Dogs

Bordetella (also known as Kennel Cough) is transmitted by airborne organisms from other animals, so is usually only a risk in kennels, boarding facilities, groomers, or other high-stress/high-density environments. Intranasal vaccination is more effective than injection under the skin, but only protects for up to 6 months. Intranasal vaccination followed by a booster injection can yield stronger, longer-lasting protection. Kennel Cough has been noted in dogs without airborne exposure to the organism, leading some practitioners to vaccinate even dogs that do not encounter high-stress/high-density environments. Lyme disease is carried by ticks, so dogs that hike, hunt, camp, or otherwise encounter ticks may benefit from vaccination depending on disease incidence in your state.  Leptospirosis infection in dogs develops following direct or indirect contact with the urine of infected wildlife or pets. Giardia infection typically responds well to treatment, and vaccination is not routinely recommended in dogs except to reduce the severity of signs and infectiousness to other pets

Click here to learn about the risks of vaccination to your pet.

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Dr Roger Johnson and Dr Derek Calhoon

Roger K. Johnson, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include cardiology as well as using advanced diagnostics to help his patients. His particular favorites include echocardiography, abdominal ultrasonography, and endoscopy. Derek Calhoon, DVM is a veterinary general practitioner.

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