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Vaccinations and Your Dog

by Coach Lilly

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. National Immunization Awareness Month was created by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help doctors and patients remember to discuss immunization for humans, but dogs are also susceptible to disease and may need vaccines to protect them too.


Do you know if your dog has all the vaccines he needs? It’s a good time to stop and think about your dog’s health maintenance and to make sure that your dog is up-to-date with any vaccines he or she may need.




What Are Vaccinations?

 Vaccines are substances that improve immunity by stimulating the immune system, which helps the body guard against disease. Vaccinations can help protect your dog from various contagious diseases. According to the ASPCA, core vaccines for dogs include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Rabies is a dangerous disease that can even infect humans. All dogs and cats are required to receive their first rabies vaccination soon after they are born.

Your veterinarian may also recommend non-core vaccines to protect against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira bacteria. Your veterinarian will be able to evaluate your dog’s need for these additional vaccines based on your dog’s exposure risk. Be aware that your dog may not need to be vaccinated for all diseases.

Besides helping you understand which vaccines your dog may need and what those vaccines protect against, the ASPCA states that your veterinarian can also help you determine a vaccination schedule that takes into account factors like the type of vaccine your dog needs, “your pet’s age, medical history, environment, and lifestyle.”

Some vaccinations should be given soon after your dog is born. A series of vaccinations is commonly given starting when your puppy is six to eight weeks old. Some adult dogs may need to receive certain vaccines once a year, or every few years. Again, it is important to talk to your veterinarian to understand what vaccinations are required for your dog and the schedule for when those vaccines will be given.


What You Can Do

  • Talk to your veterinarian. This is the most important thing you can do for your dog’s overall health. Your veterinarian is trained in animal health care and can educate you on the different vaccines that are available, what diseases your dog may be at risk for, and how common certain diseases are in your area, as well as laws relating to vaccines and what your responsibility is.
  • Keep a record of your dog’s vaccination history. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your dog’s medical record, including the vaccinations your dog has received, in case of an emergency. Having a record will also help you keep track of when your dog may need to receive a certain vaccine again.


Vaccines can save lives. It’s worth taking the time to educate yourself and have a talk with your veterinarian so you can have confidence that your dog has received the vaccinations he needs to continue living a long and healthy life. Reward your dog for being brave on a trip to the vet with a prize from



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