Canine Vaccination Guidelines

AHAA and AVMA Logo

This article presents a condensed summary of the Vaccination Guidelines outlined by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The full 42-page report may be found here:
Canine_Vaccination_Guidelines_2011.pdf

Table of Contents:

 

Core or Essential Vaccines

Core vaccines have a successful track-record of protecting canine populations against contagious and deadly disease. The administration of core vaccines is recommended for all dogs.

Canine Parvo Virus
CPV-2 (MLV)

Canine Distemper Virus
CDV (MLV) or rCDV as an alternative

Canine AdenoVirus-2
CAV-2 (MLV)
Includes CAV-1 (hepatitis) and CAV-2 (infectious respiratory disease)

    • Puppies should receive 3 doses of each vaccine between the ages of 8 and 16 week. The vaccine should be administered at regular intervals (i.e. every 3 to 4 weeks). If the interval between 2 doses exceeds 6 weeks, it is recommended to re-administer the first dose.
    • A booster shot should be administered 1 year after the completion of the initial vaccination series – regardless of the dog’s age at the time.
    • In order to maintain their immunity, adult canines should be vaccinated once every 3 years.

Rabies
3-year (killed virus) Vaccine

    • Puppies may receive their first dose at 12 weeks of age (or later). Administering the vaccine at a younger age is not recommended.
    • A 2nd booster shot should be administered 1 year after the completion of the initial vaccination series – regardless of the dog’s age at the time.
    • In order to maintain their immunity, adult canines should be vaccinated once every 3 years.

Please note:

  • Core vaccines are administered parenterally (i.e. via subcutaneous or intra-muscular injection). It is generally not recommended to cleanse the skin with alcohol before inoculation.
  • If a patient is to receive 2 injections on the same day, then the vaccines should be injected in 2 separate sites, drained by different lymph nodes (e.g. one in the left shoulder, the other in the right shoulder).
  • When properly administered, core vaccines have been shown to induce a protective immune response (DOI) lasting over 5 years.
  • A titter test may be performed after the initial vaccination series to insure that immunization is successful.
  • MLV stands for ‘modified live virus.’


Non-Core or Discretionary Vaccines

Unlike core vaccines, discretionary vaccines are not considered to be essential for all dogs. The need for vaccination is based on the assessment of an individual’s risk profile. Patients should only be vaccinated when a reasonable risk of exposure is present.

Canine Parainfluenza Virus
CPiV

Bordetella Bronchiseptica
Bb (live avirulent bacteria)

    • When risk of exposure is high, an initial dose may be administered to pups as young as 4 to 6 week of age.
      Adult dogs are vaccinated annually, but high-risk individuals may require more frequent vaccination.
    • Unprotected dogs would benefit from vaccination 1 to 2 weeks prior to known exposure (e.g. kennel, dog show, daycare, etc.).
    • Short-term side effects (e.g. coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge) may occur in some patients.
    • Method of administration: intra-nasal, mucosal (directly onto mucosal surfaces).

Leptospirosis
Leptospira Interrogans (4-way killed whole cell or subunit bacterin)
Contains serovars canicola, icterohemorrhagiae1, grippotyphosa, and pomona.

Canine Influenza Virus
CIV (killed virus) vaccine

    • Puppies may receive their first dose at 12 weeks of age (or later). Administering the vaccine at a younger age is not recommended.
    • A 2nd booster shot should be given within 2 to 4 weeks of the initial dose. A single dose does not provide immunity.
    • Annual vaccination should be restricted to dogs with a reasonable risk of exposure.

Lyme Disease
Borrelia burgdorferi (killed whole cell bacterin) or
Borrelia burgdorferi (rLyme: rOspA)

    • Puppies may receive their first dose at 12 weeks of age (or later). Administering the vaccine at a younger age is not recommended.
    • A 2nd booster shot should be given within 2 to 4 weeks of the initial dose. A single dose does not provide immunity.
    • In addition to vaccination, effective prevention of canine Lyme borreliosis requires the regular use of tick control products.
    • Vaccination is recommended for canines living in or visiting regions where there is a risk of vector tick exposure.
    • The vaccine is best administered annually, prior to the beginning of tick season.

Please note:

  • The typical duration of immunity (DOI) for non-core vaccines is less than 1 year.
  • In small dogs (e.g. Boston Terriers) and puppies, inactivated (killed) non-core vaccines may be more likely to trigger adverse side-effects when administered at the same time as other vaccines.
  • In small dogs (e.g. Boston Terriers) and puppies, it may be prudent to delay the administration of inactivated (killed) non-core vaccines until after the completion of the initial core vaccination series.
  • If a patient is to receive 2 injections on the same day, then the vaccines should be injected in 2 separate sites, drained by different lymph nodes.


Vaccines to Avoid

The following vaccines either have limited efficacy against clinical disease, or are considered obsolete.

AdenoVirus-1
CAV-1
Already covered by CAV-2 (MLV)

Leptospira Interrogans
(2-way killed bacterin)
Already covered by Leptospira Interrogans (4-way killed vaccine)

Canine Corona Virus
CCoV (killed or MLV)
Already covered by CPV-2 (MLV)


Adverse Events

Today’s vaccines are safe, stable, and effective. The risk that a vaccine would trigger a sever reaction is minimal. More importantly, the benefit of protection against deadly disease far outweighs the risk that an adverse reaction may occur.

Adverse events refer to the development of any undesirable symptom associated with vaccination. It includes trauma, illness, toxicity, allergic reactions, and failure. In most cases, the incidents are mild. For example, you may observe one or more of the following symptoms in the first few days after vaccination:

    • sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose after the administration of intra-nasal vaccines;
    • discomfort and local swelling at the injection site after the administration of parenteral vaccines;
    • decreased appetite;
    • decreased activity; or
    • a mild fever.

Usually, these symptoms disappear on their own, but if they persist for more than 48 hours, if they start to get worse, or if the dog seems very uncomfortable, then you should contact your veterinarian.

Some symptoms appear in the first few days after vaccination and linger for a couple of weeks. For example:

    • a small, firm swelling may develop at the injection site. It should slowly get smaller and disappear in 2 weeks.
    • If the symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks or if the bump seems to be growing, then please contact your veterinarian. The lump may be an abscess, granuloma, or seroma.
    • If you notice hair loss or colour change at the injection site, then you should contact your veterinarian.


Life Saving Advice

Please read the following section carefully. It may save your dog’s life.

Acute hypersensitivity reactions (i.e. sever and life-threatening allergic reactions) to vaccines are uncommon, but when they do occur, it tends to be within minutes to hours after inoculation.

Sever allergic reactions should be treated as medical emergencies. In the event that they occur, timely medical attention will be required. Of course, it helps to be prepared:

    • Try to make your vaccination appointments in the morning, preferably on a day that you’ll be able to monitor your dog after vaccination.
    • Avoid making your vaccination appointments around holidays when emergency care is harder to obtain.
    • Stay at the veterinarian’s clinic for at least 20 to 30 minutes after vaccination. If a severe reaction occurs, immediate medical intervention may be required.
    • It’s worth learning to recognize symptoms of angioedema (around the face, head, and neck) and anaphylaxis (shock). If you observe any of the following symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately:
      • swelling around the face, muzzle, throat, neck, or eyes;
      • hives, or itchy skin that seems bumpy;
      • persistent coughing; forceful or shallow breathing;
      • sudden and persistent vomiting or diarrhea;
      • extreme lethargy or weakness;
      • collapse – shock.

In order to reduce the likelihood of experiencing adverse reactions, you may wish to take the following precautions:

    • Make sure to notify your veterinarian if your canine has had an allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past. If possible, provide the name of the vaccine’s manufacturer as well.
    • If multiple vaccines need to be administered, schedule them over several vet visits (over several weeks), so that the patient only receives 1 or 2 vaccines per week. Not only will this help to reduce the likelihood of an adverse reaction, but if a reaction does occur, you’ll know which vaccine triggered it.
    • If a patient is to receive 2 injections on the same day, then the vaccines should be injected in 2 separate sites, drained by different lymph nodes (e.g. one in the left shoulder, the other in the right shoulder).
    • Ideally, the rabies vaccine should be administered on its own, not at the same time as the other core vaccines (hypersensitivity reactions are more common with non infectious vaccines)

A Note About the Article

The AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines are supported by professional, scientific, and clinical evidence. The recommendations rely on expert opinion as well as published and unpublished documentation.

The guidelines, however, should not be interpreted as a strict and unbending course of treatment. Variations in practice may be warranted based on the needs of individual patients and regional requirements.

There simply isn’t a single best vaccination protocol for all dogs.

 

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