What vaccine schedule does Dr. Marie recommend?

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There is some variation in which vaccines are necessary or recommended depending on what part of the world you live in. We often get asked questions about vaccinations. This article should answer some of those questions.

Available vaccines:

There are some "core" vaccines that are recommended for every dog. These include:

  • Distemper: a virus that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, discharge from the eyes or nose, fever and respiratory signs. We used to see distemper rarely, but this virus is starting to become more common in the last few years.
  • Parvovirus: a very common virus that causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It is often fatal.
  • Adenovirus: (or hepatitis). Fortunately this virus is rarely seen, thanks to good vaccination protocols!
  • Parainfluenza: can contribute to kennel cough.
  • Coronavirus: causes diarrhea but it is usually very mild.
  • Rabies: a very serious disease that is spread via a bite from an infected animal. This disease is always fatal and is transmissible to humans.

And then there are some vaccines that are given depending on the dog's risk level:

  • Leptospirosis: a serious disease that a dog can get from drinking from a puddle where an animal such as a skunk, racoon, fox or badger has urinated. This disease can cause kidney failure and possibly liver failure too. It is contagious to people as well.
  • Lyme disease: transmitted by ticks in certain parts of the world. It causes joint and muscle pain and sometimes a very serious kidney problem.
  • Kennel Cough (Bordetella): causes a hacking cough. Most commonly spread where dogs are congregating and stressed such as a kennel or a dog show. But this can be spread via the air in any place. It is usually not life threatening.

Vaccination Schedule:

  • 6-8 weeks: vaccine for distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza (and possibly coronavirus)
  • 3-4 weeks later: the same vaccine plus leptospirosis (depending on risk level), lyme disease (depending on risk level) and bordetella (depending on risk level)
  • 3-4 weeks later: the same vaccines as last time plus rabies.
  • One Year after the rabies vaccine: All vaccines are repeated again.
  • After this, we usually put the dog on a schedule where not every vaccine is given every year. We we usually recommend rabies every three years, the core distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza every two years and lepto, lyme and bordetella yearly.


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.