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Dog Vaccines

I have heard many different views on vaccines for my pets. What is the best vaccines to give my dogs and cats?

Vaccines have had a tremendous positive impact on the lives of our companion animals since they have come into wide use over the past 35 years. Despite the wide prevalence of these products, there remains a significant amount of confusion and disinformation about vaccines and the role they play in keeping our pets healthy.

Vaccinations are currently available for many diseases, ranging from Distemper to Rabies to gingivitis. Recent years has seen an emergence of a large number of newer vaccines, as well as research into established vaccines that have prompted reevaluation of these older vaccines.  The Sun Prairie Pet Clinic is constantly evaluating vaccination recommendations when new information and products become available.

Current information regarding vaccines in dogs and cats groups each vaccine into one of three categories – Core, Non-core, and Not Recommended.

  •  Core vaccines are recommended for every dog or cat regardless of lifestyle, age, or breed. In general, these include the Distemper combination and Rabies vaccines.
  •  Non-core vaccines are recommended only for certain members of the population. Individuals that will benefit from these vaccines will vary according to their age, lifestyle, breed, or other factors. These vaccines are used after consultation between the doctor and the owner of the pet. Examples of non-core vaccines that our hospital uses include Lyme disease vaccination, Leptospirosis vaccine, and Kennel Cough (Bordetella) vaccine.
  •  Not recommended vaccines are neither advised by our staff nor stocked at the hospital.


Canine Vaccine Recommendations


Rabies can affect any mammal and attacks the nervous system. This disease is widely distributed though the world and causes death in almost every case it is seen. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is required by law.


Canine Distemper can affect the digestive, respiratory, skin, and nervous systems. It is widely distributed and carries a poor prognosis once contracted. Symptoms can range from sneezing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, to changes in the foot pads, to convulsions and loss of consciousness. The vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Canine Infectious Hepatitis

Infectious Hepatitis is caused by canine adenovirus type-1 (CAV-1). This virus attacks the liver and results in several symptoms including vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, eye damage, and neurological symptoms. Though many dogs that contract the disease survive with few complications, there is no treatment, and severe problems can result from infection. Prevention is provided to dogs by vaccinating with a very similar modified CAV-2 virus (which is a cause of mild upper respiratory infections in dogs), which provides immunity against both diseases. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease of dogs and other wild members of the dog family. This virus causes severe gastrointestinal damage and results in symptoms of severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and death. This disease is very widespread throughout the world and is a major cause of illness and death in unvaccinated puppies. Many variants have been identified, but vaccination with the current vaccine appears to provide immunity to all types. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is strongly recommended.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by specific ticks in North America. For a dog to become infected it must to bitten by a tick carrying the disease. Lyme disease is found in Wisconsin more frequently than most other states in America in both dogs and people! This vaccine is not a core vaccine but is recommended for many dogs in our practice, especially dogs that have an increased risk of encountering the disease. Examples of at risk dogs includes hunting dogs, farm dogs and others that live primarily outdoors, dogs that go camping or into nature preserves and parks, especially dogs that travel to the northern parts of our state.

Bordatella (‘Kennel Cough’)

Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious disease of the upper respiratory tract in dogs. It received its name because it spreads quickly in dogs kept in close quarters, but a dog does not need to be kenneled to get this disease. There is no treatment, but most dogs will recover with nursing and symptomatic care. This vaccine not a core vaccine, but is recommended for dogs that will be kenneled in the next 12 months. Many boarding facilities require this vaccine before your dog will be admitted.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in mammals that can invade the liver, kidneys, vascular system, among others. The symptoms are varied and this disease can mimic others, making it challenging to diagnose in some cases. There are a multitude of variants of this bacterium (worldwide there have been over 100 types identified); in North America there are 6 of importance. Vaccinations against one type do not protect against the other variants; therefore an effective vaccine should include as many types as possible. This vaccine is not considered a core vaccine and is recommended only in dogs that have an increased chance of encountering the bacteria based on individual lifestyle.


This virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Studies into this disease and its vaccine have concluded that the disease is not a major cause of illness in dogs and the vaccine is poorly effective. Because of this, this vaccine is not recommended for any of our patients; it continues to be a component of many vaccines available for dogs, however.

Porphyromonas Vaccine (Gingivitis Vaccine)

This is a very new vaccine that targets those agents responsible for the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth in dogs. This vaccine has not been used for a long enough time to have a history, though initial testing appears to be encouraging. This vaccine is not a core vaccine and is recommended only on an individual basis in susceptible dogs.

Feline Vaccine Recommendations


Rabies can affect any mammal and affects the nervous system. This disease is widely distributed though the world and causes death in almost every case it is seen. This vaccine is considered a core vaccine and is required by law.

Feline Distemper

Feline Distemper is also known as Feline Panleukopenia. Is is very similar to Canine Parvovirus; it is not related to Canine [...]

By |September 14th, 2013||

I just got a puppy. I need information about vaccinating him. What is the best plan for a young puppy?

The puppy vaccine series is designed to give the best protection to your new puppy from a wide variety of communicable diseases.  Puppy vaccines are given 3 to 4 weeks apart until the pup reaches 16 weeks of age, with the exception of Rabies vaccine which is given once for a full year of protection.  The key to the protection is NOT the number of vaccines, but the timing of them.  Because of this, some older puppies with obtain full protection from only 2 or 3 vaccines; others require 4 or more if the vaccination is started at a younger age.  Puppies that were born to fully vaccinated mothers usually have good immunity passed from the mother for the first 4 to 8 weeks of life; after that time vaccination is used to enhance the natural immunity before it fades over time.

Typical vaccine protocols begin at 6 and 8 weeks of age, regardless of size or breed of the dog.  The timing of the vaccinations may be altered by several factors, including the general health of the puppy, ongoing illnesses (if any), vaccination status of the mother, housing conditions, etc.

Typically, puppies are started on vaccinations at or near 8 weeks of age.  At our Clinic, starting at 8 weeks of age, a combination of Distemper, Adenovirus (Herpesvirus), and Parvovirus (DAP) is given.  Every three to four weeks after this initial vaccination the puppy is due for a booster of these vaccines, until 16 to 18 weeks of age.  By then, the final vaccination is good for 1 year.  At one year of age the DAP vaccine is boosted to last a year.  Beginning at age 2 the dog is eligible for a 1-year or 3-year distemper combination vaccine.

Rabies vaccination is given once and is initially good for 1 year.  This vaccine is given between 12 and 16 weeks of age.  As an adult, dogs can have either a 1-year or a 3-year rabies vaccine.  At our Clinic adult dogs between the age of 2 and 10 are eligible for the 3-year rabies vaccine.

Lyme disease vaccination is a series of two vaccines three weeks apart.  This series can begin at any age after 9 weeks old.   After the initial series, this vaccine is boosted annually; there is no multiyear product for Lyme disease vaccination.

Leptospirosis vaccination is also a two vaccine series given three weeks apart.  This series can begin after 12 weeks of age.  After the initial series this vaccine is boosted annually; there is no multiyear product for Leptospirosis vaccination.

Bordatella vaccine is given as drops in the nose at any age after 3 weeks of age.   This vaccine is protective after one dose; injectable forms of this vaccine require two doses initially.  Both the nasal drops and the injectable vaccine are boosted annually.  There is no multiyear product for protection against Bordatella, and there are several sources that feel that this vaccine should be boosted every 6 to 9 months.

Canine vaccination recommendations are outlined below.  Not every dog is a candidate for vaccination for every disease listed below.  Remember that these are guidelines only and precise timing of the vaccines should be discussed with the veterinarian.



8 weeks

12 weeks

16 weeks

1 year

2 yr

3 yr

4 yr

5 yr

6 yr

7 yr

8 yr

9 yr

10 yr

11 yr

12 yr

13 yr

14 yr







By |September 14th, 2013||