Did you get a card in the mail or an e-mail from your vet reminding you that your dog is due for their annual physical exam and vaccines? Did you know that vaccinations can be categorized into two groups: core and non-core? Do you know what those mean? Not every dog needs to be vaccinated against every disease.


What Do Vaccines Do?

Vaccines help prepare and protect your dog’s immune system to fight against illnesses. When the vaccine is introduced to the body, your dog’s immune system recognizes them as foreign bodies and begin to fight them. If a dog is ever exposed to the real disease, their immune system is now prepared to recognize and fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.


Core vs Non-Core

Core vaccines are recommended for all puppies and dogs to prevent diseases that are common, easily transmitted, and can risk your dog’s immunity.

  • Rabies – Required by law to protect dogs from a viral disease that is most frequently transmitted through an infected animal’s bite.
  • Canine DA2PPC – Combination vaccine for your dog that protects against four primary canine diseases: distemper, adenovirus-2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. There is no cure for distemper, attacking the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system.

Non-core vaccines are optional and recommended depending on your dog’s lifestyle or living situations based on your dog’s risk of exposure.

  • Bordetella – This vaccine is given to protect a dog from an infectious airborne respiratory disease that can quickly cause or contribute to kennel cough.
  • Lyme Disease – A vaccination to battle a tick-borne bacteria often spread by deer ticks in certain geographic locations, such as wooded areas.
  • Canine Influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)– A newer vaccine to protect dogs from types of flu that can cause coughing, sneezing and even pneumonia.
  • Parainfluenza – This vaccine won’t prevent parainfluenza or canine influenza from spreading, but it will limit the severity of the infection.
  • Adenovirus – This vaccine provides protection against canine hepatitis.
  • Leptospirosis (Lepto) – A vaccine to prevent a bacteria that can be found in stagnant or contaminated water.


Don’t Over Vaccinate

Vaccinating your dog more often than necessary can be just as harmful as the disease, causing more health problems from a minor fever to anaphylactic shock. When your dog is protected by the vaccines he’s already had, vaccinating him again does not make him “more immune.” Another option to consider is a simple blood test, called a “titer”, which can tell if your dog is currently protected from their previous vaccination and whether or not they need another vaccine.

Talk with your vet about your dog’s lifestyle, age, and health and the pros and cons of each of these vaccinations. Know all your options and you have a choice in protecting your dog!