Vaccine FAQs for Dogs

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Yes. Vaccination can help prevent your dog from contracting potentially fatal diseases. Vaccines contain modified or killed versions of common canine diseases. When they are injected into the body, your dog’s immune system will attack them. If your dog is later exposed to the disease, the immune system will remember the disease and quickly counteract it.

Not necessarily. There are two classes for canine vaccines: Core and Non-Core.
Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs, regardless of breed, size or location. All dogs will see these life-threatening diseases in their lifetime. If it didn’t kill them and they were lucky enough to recover, they would still suffer from side effects for the rest of their lives. The core vaccines include Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Rabies.
Non-core vaccines are reserved for pets with unique exposure risks or needs. These include Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough, Coronavirus, Giardia and Lyme disease.
Standard 5-way vaccines offer protection against the “Core” canine diseases.

As with human vaccination, there are always risks. However, the benefits of a healthy life certainly outweigh the risks of contracting a life-threatening disease.

Puppies receive antibodies from their mother’s milk, giving temporary protection against disease. These antibodies also see vaccines as a disease and can eliminate them before they stimulate the immune system. There is a time after weaning called the “window of susceptibility,” where the antibodies wear off and the puppy is at risk for disease. However, it’s almost impossible to determine this time period for each puppy. By giving a series of vaccinations, you boost your puppy’s protection as soon as the mother’s antibodies wear off, whenever this happens.

In general, treatments of any kind are not recommended for pregnant or nursing animals unless the manufacturer has tested and proven them to be safe. The same is true with vaccines. If you have questions, check with your veterinarian first.
Keep in mind that vaccinating a nursing animal will not pass the protection on to the babies. Newborns only receive the antibodies from the colostrum in the first 36 hours of nursing, and the vaccine will take a week or more to fully affect the immune system. If the mother needs vaccination, it’s best to wait until after weaning, when the stress of pregnancy and nursing is removed. She will be better equipped to respond after she’s had adequate time to recover.

Up until a few years ago, this was the standard recommendation. However, recent studies show increasing evidence that some vaccines last much longer than a year. Talk to your veterinarian for recommendation.

5 Way Core Vaccine:

This vaccines prevents

  1. Canine Distemper,
  2. Adenovirus Type 1 (Hepatitis),
  3. Adenovirus Type 2 (Respiratory Disease),
  4. Parainfluenza,
  5. Parvovirus


1. Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious, often fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and the nervous systems. Contact among infected animals maintains the virus in a population, and a constant supply of puppies helps to provide a susceptible population for infection. Although immunity to virulent canine distemper is prolonged or lifelong, it is not as absolute after vaccination. Dogs that do not receive periodic immunizations may lose their protection.


Distemper is spread through contact with bodily secretions (eg, nasal discharge), but is most commonly spread through airborne transmission (eg, sneezing and coughing).

Clinical signs

  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

2. & 3. Adenovirus Type 1 (Hepatitis) & Adenovirus Type 2 (Respiratory Disease)

Adenoviruses are spread directly from dog to dog through infected respiratory secretions or by contact with contaminated feces or urine.

Clinical signs

Hepatitis (CAV-1)

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Respiratory disease (CAV-2)

  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Retching
  • Coughing up white foamy discharge
  • Conjunctivitis


4. Parainfluenza

Canine parainfluenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory virus, also known as canine cough.


CPIV is excreted from the respiratory tract of infected animals for up to 2 weeks after infection and is usually transmitted through the air. The virus spreads rapidly where large numbers of dogs are kept together.

Clinical signs

  • Coughing (dry or moist)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite


5. Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs. Death can occur as early as 2 days after the onset of illness.


CPV-2 is transmitted by direct contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments, or people. CPV-2 is one of the most resistant viruses to infect dogs and can remain viable in the environment for extended periods of time. The virus spreads through contaminated surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who touch a CPV-2–infected dog.

Clinical signs

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Severe, and often bloody, diarrhea



Rabies is a fatal disease that attacks the nervous system. All warm-blooded animals, including humans, are vulnerable to infection with rabies virus. Most human exposures result from contact with domestic species, such as dogs, cats, horses, or cattle. Worldwide, more than 30,000 people die from rabies each year.


The disease is usually transmitted through saliva from a bite but may also be spread if the infected saliva enters the body through a cut or comes in contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Clinical signs

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Slight/partial paralysis
  • Excitation
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Hypersalivation
  • Difficulty swallowing

Risk factors

  • Pets that live or play outside
  • Pets that interact with wild animals
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