Dog Vaccinations: What Vaccines Do Adult Dogs Need?

Dr. Jacqueline Brister

husky at vet

Dog vaccinations, or shots for dogs, are an important way to keep your pet healthy. Puppies receive several rounds of vaccinations in a short period of time. As an adult dog, your pet’s vaccination or shot schedule is a little different, but equally as important.

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are substances created to stimulate your dog’s immune system to help prevent or fight certain types of infections. Over time, this stimulation dwindles, and the immune system loses the ability to protect itself from these diseases. Once this happens, your dog is no longer “up to date” on their vaccination and will need to be re-vaccinated or boostered.

Which vaccines are necessary?

In certain areas or environments, some vaccines may be more necessary than others. Vaccines that should be given to every dog no matter the circumstance are known as core vaccines. An example of this would be the rabies vaccine. Every dog should be kept up to date on their rabies vaccination regardless of whether rabies is prevalent in the dog’s environment.

Non-core vaccines are only necessary in areas where the disease is common, or if the dog will be at higher risk for exposure to the disease. An example of this would be the Lyme disease vaccine. Not all areas of the country experience Lyme disease, so unless your dog is at a high risk for exposure to it (e.g., spending time in areas with ticks known to carry Lyme disease), you may not need to vaccinate him or her against this disease.

Common Canine Adult Vaccines

  • Distemper Virus (Core) – Contagious and potentially fatal virus that can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, brain/nerve, and eye disease. The vaccine provides great protection from the virus and is good for up to three years after boostering one year from the initial puppy vaccines.
  • Parvovirus (Core) – Contagious and potentially fatal virus that can cause severe gastrointestinal disease. The vaccine provides great protection from the virus and is good for up to three years after boostering one year from the initial puppy vaccines.
  • Adenovirus (Core) – Potentially fatal group of viruses that can cause severe liver or respiratory disease. The vaccine provides great protection from the viruses and is good for up to three years after boostering one year from the initial puppy vaccines.
  • Parainfluenza Virus (Core) – Contagious virus that can cause prolonged respiratory disease. The vaccine provides good protection from the virus and will help lessen the dog’s symptoms if he or she contracts the virus. The vaccine is good for up to three years after boostering one year from the initial puppy vaccines.
  • Rabies Virus (Core) – Fatal virus that can cause brain/nerve disease. The vaccine provides great protection from the virus and is good for one to three years, depending on state and local regulations, after boostering one year from the initial puppy vaccines.
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica/Kennel Cough (Non-core) – Contagious bacteria that can cause prolonged respiratory disease. The vaccine provides good protection from this bacteria and will help lessen the dog’s symptoms if he or she contracts the disease. The vaccine is good for one year after initially vaccinating twice (two to four weeks apart). Vaccinating for this disease may not be necessary if your dog is not going to be boarded or in close confinement with other dogs.
  • Leptospirosis (Non-core) – Contagious bacteria that can cause liver and kidney disease. The vaccine provides good protection from some, but not all, strains of this bacteria and will help lessen the dog’s symptoms if he or she contracts the disease. The vaccine is good for one year after initially vaccinating twice (two to four weeks apart). Vaccinating for this disease may not be necessary if your dog is not in an area of high prevalence for this disease.
  • Borrelia burgdorferi/Lyme disease (Non-core) – Contagious bacteria that can cause swollen lymph nodes, immune dysfunction, and joint disease. The vaccine provides good protection from the bacteria and will help lessen the dog’s symptoms if he or she contracts the disease. The vaccine is good for one year after initially vaccinating twice (two to four weeks apart). Vaccinating for this disease may not be necessary if your dog is not in an area of high prevalence for this disease.
  • Canine Influenza Virus/Canine Flu (Non-core) – Contagious virus that can cause respiratory disease. The vaccine provides good protection from the virus and will help lessen the dog’s symptoms if he or she contracts the disease. The vaccine is good for one year after initially vaccinating twice (two to four weeks apart). Vaccinating for this disease may not be necessary if your dog is not in an area of high prevalence for this disease.

Keeping your pet up to date on vaccinations is a great way to ensure they live a long and healthy life. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding core versus non-core vaccines. He or she will be familiar with the area/environment and can help you determine which vaccines will be necessary to keep your pet healthy. Plus, all vaccinations are eligible for reimbursement under Embrace’s Wellness Rewards plan.

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