Dog vaccination against rabies

Vaccination of dogs is the practice of animal vaccination applied to dogs. Programs in this field have contributed both to the health of dogs and to the public health. In countries where routine rabies vaccination of dogs is practiced, for example, rabies in humans is reduced to a very rare event.

Currently, there are geographically defined core vaccines and individually chosen non-core vaccine recommendations for dogs. A number of controversies surrounding adverse reactions to vaccines have resulted in authoritative bodies revising their guidelines as to the type, frequency, and methods/locations for dog vaccination.

Recommended administration of vaccines

In 2010[1] and 2011,[2] revised guidelines addressed concerns about adverse vaccine reactions[3] by altering the recommended frequency, type, methods, and locations for administration of core and non-core canine vaccines.

General schedule

Most vaccination protocols recommend a series of vaccines for puppies, with vaccine boosters given at 11-13 weeks, then at 15-17 weeks and so on. Frequency of vaccination thereafter varies depending on the lifestyle of the individual dog, including:[4]

Because these factors may change over time, many professional organizations[4][5] recommend routine annual examinations, where a vaccination plan for each individual canine can be decided during a discussion between the veterinarian and dog owner.


In their 2010 recommendations, WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association)[1] emphasized the importance of administering non-adjuvanted vaccines whenever possible, as vaccines that included these immune-stimulating agents were shown to increase adverse vaccine reactions in pets.


WSAVA[1] also prefers serological testing over unnecessary boosters or re-vaccination doses of core vaccines after the initial 12-month booster that follows the puppy series of modified live virus [MLV] vaccines. This is because core vaccines show an excellent correlation between the presence of antibody and protective immunity to a disease, and have a long DOI (Duration of Immunity). Antibody tests can be used to demonstrate the DOI after vaccination with core vaccines, though not for non-core vaccines (such as parainfluenza).


Most vaccines are given by subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (into the muscle) injection. Respiratory tract disease vaccination may be given intra-nasally (in the nose) in some cases.


Many recent protocols indicate that vaccines should be given in specific areas in order to ease identification of which vaccine caused an adverse reaction and ease removal of any vaccine-associated sarcoma.[6] Although these protocols were initially designed for cats, some similar protocols are likely to be developed for canines, as well.

In North America, veterinarians adopted the practice of injecting specific limbs as far from the trunk of the body as possible,[7] for example the rear right limb for rabies.

This set of locations was not widely adopted outside of North America, and the international Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) made new recommendations[1] that vaccines be administered:

Core vaccines

Dog vaccination against canine distemper

Core vaccines are defined as those vaccines which all dogs, regardless of circumstances, should receive. Core vaccines protect animals from severe, life-threatening diseases which have global distribution.[1]


The 2011 North American recommendation[2] includes rabies in the core vaccines. Likewise, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) in the U.S. gives detailed instructions on how to deal with what they describe as a serious public health problem, and includes a useful table,[8] summarizing all the rabies vaccines sold in the U.S.

The 2010 international VGG recommendation[1] generally considers the rabies vaccine a non-core vaccine, except in areas where the disease is endemic or where required by law.


In many locations the rabies vaccine is accompanied by a single combined vaccine shot which protects against:

This combination vaccine may also be known as DHPP or DAPP.

Non-Core vaccines

Non-core vaccines are those that are required by only those animals whose geographical location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections.[1]

Not recommended vaccines

Generally not recommended, owing to unproven efficacy, are vaccines for:


Specific adverse reactions and general consequences for long-term health and immunity are both being cited as reasons to reduce the frequency of pet vaccination.

The 2010 vaccination guidelines[1] published by the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) reduce the number of vaccines which should be considered core for canines, as well as recommending less frequent vaccine administration.

In the executive summary section, the WSAVA guidelines[1] argue in support of "the development and use of simple in-practice tests for determination of seroconversion (antibody) following vaccination." They also note that "Vaccines should not be given needlessly. Core vaccines should not be given any more frequently than every three years after the 12 month booster injection following the puppy/kitten series, because the duration of immunity (DOI) is many years and may be up to the lifetime of the pet." The open letter critique focuses on the less-nuanced summary of these recommendations in the tables given for vaccination guidelines, which could imply that re-vaccination should occur every three years.

Adverse reactions

Main article: Adverse vaccine reactions in pets

Vets and owners should also consider factors that have been shown to increase the risk of adverse vaccine reactions.[3] Examples of such factors include:

Vaccine-induced vasculitis is a form of alopecia that occurs after vaccination, often due to rabies vaccination. It may occur 2-3 months after vaccination.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Vaccination Guidelines Group (VGG) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) (2010). "WSAVA guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
  2. ^ a b c "2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines" (PDF). American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force. 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  3. ^ a b Moore GE, Guptill LF, Ward MP, Glickman NW, Faunt KK, Lewis HB, Glickman LT (Oct 2005). "Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs". J Am Vet Med Assoc. 227 (7): 1102–8. doi:10.2460/javma.2005.227.1102. PMID 16220670.
  4. ^ a b "Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines". UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. November 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-09-05. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  5. ^ "Feline Life Stage Guidelines" (PDF). American Association of Feline Practicitioners & American Animal Hospital Association. 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-07-18. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  6. ^ Eigner, Diane R. "Feline Vaccine Guidelines". The Winn Feline Foundation. Archived from the original on 2006-08-20. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  7. ^ "VAFSTF Vaccine Site Recommendations". Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS). Archived from the original on 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  8. ^ "Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2011". Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the Centers for Disease Control. National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV). 2011. Archived from the original on 2017-07-11. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  9. ^ "Canine and Feline Vaccination Guidelines". UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Archived from the original on 2012-05-06. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  10. ^ Rhodes, Karen Helton; Werner, Alexander H. (2011-01-25). Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult Clinical Companion. Ames, Iowa: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-8138-1596-1.