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Which Dog Vaccines Are Necessary?

sharpei getting shot (pet's vaccinations)

Vaccines are a vital part of your dog’s overall well-being. Regular vaccinations for your dogs can effectively prevent serious diseases such as parvo, distemper, rabies, and hepatitis.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has revised vaccination guidelines over the years. These guidelines include that you tailor the immunization schedules to fit your dog’s specific needs and risk factors. Risk factors vary by the breed and size of the dog. The area of the country and level of interaction with other animals are also factors for dog vaccines.

A graphic with the text Dog Vaccinations A Complete Guide over an image of a vet giving a brown mastiff puppy a vaccine.

Which Dog Vaccines Are Required?

For puppies, most veterinarians now recommend a series of 4 vaccinations, the last of which should be around sixteen weeks of age. Some experts believe that if every puppy received the parvo vaccine at four weeks of age, we could probably eradicate the disease.

Most vaccines for dogs combine protection for multiple illnesses. For years, the most common of these have been vaccines known as the 5-way and 7-way shots. Below, we will explore the differences between the necessary dog vaccines.

What are the Core Vaccines for Dogs? (5-Way Vaccines)

These 5-way vaccines are considered core vaccines that we recommend the most for puppies and older unvaccinated dogs. The 5-way vaccine is also sometimes referred to as “the puppy shot.” This protects against the following:

  1. Distemper (severe multisystemic viral disease)
  2. Adenovirus (cross protects against hepatitis–type 1, which can cause severe, even fatal, liver disease)
  3. Adenovirus (respiratory disease–type 2 can lead to pneumonia and death)
  4. Parainfluenza (part of the kennel cough complex)
  5. Parvovirus (highly contagious and most often fatal viral disease)

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Coronavirus Vaccine for Dogs (6-Way Vaccines)

A 6-way vaccine protects against all five core diseases and includes Coronavirus. While canine Coronavirus is not the same disease as COVID-19, it is still highly infectious among dogs. It is not considered a core vaccine. However, when the animal is in a high-risk situation, it should receive this vaccine.

The Coronavirus vaccine is important for show dogs, dogs living or boarding in kennels, or where there have been known incidents in the immediate area. Check with your veterinarian to see if they recommend it.

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Lepto Vaccines (9-Way Vaccines)

Recent developments and changes in the veterinary vaccine world include adding two more strains of Lepto to the 7-way vaccine, making it a 9-way vaccine. A 9-way vaccine protects dogs from the 5 core vaccine diseases, plus the four varieties of Leptospirosis common to dogs.

Again, this is not usually considered a core vaccine, but your vet should administer it when the animal is at a high-risk of infection. The Lepto vaccine is necessary for hunting dogs and dogs living in an area with many wild animals. In addition, dogs living in large cities are at a higher risk because of the rat population. This disease spreads via the urine of infected animals such as rats, raccoons, foxes, etc.

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10-Way and Coronavirus Vaccine

The same changes to the 7-way vaccines have made the 8-way vaccine a 10-way. A 10-way vaccine is all of the vaccines in the 9-way plus canine Coronavirus.

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Puppy Vaccines for Parvo

During the first few days of a puppy’s life, they receive immune factors from their mother’s milk, which contains colostrum. Colostrum is a highly concentrated mixture of large protein antibody molecules, vitamins, electrolytes, and nutrients.

Since the antibody protection is only present in the first 36 to 48 hours of milk flow, puppies can only gain immunity if they nurse during this time. Additionally, they must be less than two days old. Puppies cannot absorb antibodies after their digestive tracts lose the ability to absorb large protein molecules, which occurs after the 2nd day of life. After that, no matter how much or how little they nurse, they will not receive any more antibodies.

Once puppies are over two days old, the only way to increase their antibody count is by vaccination. The puppies that did not receive as much colostrum will have an immune system that weakens every day. Since it is hard to determine which puppy consumed enough colostrum, many veterinarians recommend that all puppies receive a parvo-only vaccine at 4 weeks of age. These puppies will benefit from the vaccine, while the puppies that received more of the colostrum will not need the vaccine, but it will not hurt them.

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Vaccine for Kennel Cough

We also have intranasal vaccines for kennel cough, which includes the Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine. The kennel cough vaccine is not only for boarded and show dogs anymore. If your dog leaves the house or will interact with other dogs, they will need the kennel cough vaccine. For example, if you bring your dog to training classes, dog parks, etc.

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Vaccines for Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute inflammation of the brain in humans and other warm-blooded animals. Your vet should administer the rabies vaccine when your dog is three months old. Several states do not allow the shipment of rabies vaccines. Some state and local (county) laws require rabies vaccines to be administered by a veterinarian and make it illegal for you to vaccinate your own animal or refuse to recognize the vaccination.

To check your state’s rabies vaccination laws, click here.

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Which Vaccines Does My Dog Need?

For a quick reference, here is what each of the common types of multi-protection vaccinations covers:

The core vaccines include:

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus (with cross-protection for hepatitis)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus

The 6-way vaccine includes:

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus (with cross-protection for hepatitis)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Coronavirus

The 9-way vaccine includes:

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus (with cross-protection for hepatitis)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis (all four strains)

The 10-way vaccine includes:

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus (with cross-protection for hepatitis)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis (all four strains)
  • Coronavirus

A brown and white puppy sitting on a table in a veternarians office.

How to Find the Right Vaccines for your Dog

Your veterinarian can help you determine what protection your dog needs based on risk factors including, breed, lifestyle, and location. Make sure to check the laws for dog vaccines in your area: Dog vaccines near me.

Jeffers does not employ any veterinarians or medical professionals. We have a love for animals and try to provide helpful information in non-emergent cases based on years of experience from our specialists and the information provided us by manufacturers. Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is, in no way, intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.