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Vaccinating Your New Dog

Related articles
Diseases for which dogs must be vaccinated:

Diseases for which most dogs should be vaccinated:

Diseases for which some dogs should be vaccinated:
Lyme disease

We used to think vaccinating was like praying—the more the better, but now we know this is not true. Veterinarians suspect the following can be caused by over vaccination: allergies, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, immune suppression, epilepsy, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, loss of the ability to smell (anosmia), and hypothyroidism. Dogs already suffering from allergies have increased allergic response to allergens after being vaccinated, which may make their allergies worse. For these reasons, it is in your dog’s best interest to receive a limited number of vaccines.  

The immune system over-reacting causes pet adopting

Titer Tests

Always work with your veterinarian to choose the best vaccination schedule for your new dog. Your veterinarian may recommend titer tests to help determine which vaccines are needed. While titer tests are useful, they are not a definitive measure of protection:

  1. All laboratories don’t measure titers the same way so that your pet’s blood could go to one lab who finds your pet has a protective level of antibodies and go to another lab that finds the same blood sample did not have a protective level of antibodies.
  2. For some diseases, low antibody titers don’t mean a pet can’t resist the disease.
  3. For some diseases, high antibody titers don’t mean a bet is able to resist disease.
  4. For some diseases, immune factors that labs are not able to measure are more significant in predicting your pet’s resistance to disease than factors the lab can measure.
Dog getting vaccine  

Core and Noncore Vaccines
Vaccines have been divided into core and noncore groups. Core vaccines are for diseases that cause serious illness and may be fatal: rabies, distemper, parvo, and adenovirus. These vaccines should be used in most dogs. Noncore vaccines protect against diseases that are not normally serious or that infect only a limited number of dogs. Noncore vaccines should not be used routinely but can be given to dogs who may be exposed the disease and significantly affected by it. Noncore Vaccines are for bordetella, parainfluenza, corona, leptospirosis and lyme disease.

Core Vaccines: rabies, distemper, parvo, and adenovirus


is a fatal disease and the law requires that your pet be vaccinated. Because rabies is a public health concern—this is a zoonotic disease that can spread from animals to people—most counties require that the vaccine be administered by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will issue a rabies tag and will keep your pet’s record for several years. If your dog is lost, the rabies tag number can help find it. If your pet ever bites a person or another dog, authorities won’t be forced to euthanize it because they are worried that it may have rabies if they see the rabies tag. If you are concerned that the rabies vaccine may have side effects, your holistic veterinarian can prescribe a homeopathic remedy, such as Thuja or Lyssen, to encourage your pet’s system to have a healthy vaccination response.


infects the lungs and may infect the brain. Not all dogs exposed to distemper become ill, but among those that do, some will die. Vaccines against distemper or natural infections with distemper protect dogs for many years. Have your veterinarian test your dog’s blood to see if it has protective levels of antibodies to distemper. If so, your new dog may not need a distemper vaccine.


infects the intestines and causes vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs exposed to parvo do not become ill, but some of the dogs that do become ill will die. Vaccines against parvo or natural infections with parvo protect dogs for many years. Have your veterinarian test your dog’s blood to see if it has protective levels of antibodies to parvo. If so, your new dog may not need a parvo vaccine.


causes two diseases: Adenovirus type 1 causes potentially serious liver disease (hepatitis) and Adenovirus type 2 causes mild respiratory disease. Vaccination with Type 2 provides protection against both type 1 and type 2 infection. Also, vaccination with type 1 does not cause “blue eye,” which is fluid in the cornea of the eye that makes the eye appear blue-grey. Vaccination with type 2 adenovirus can cause “blue eye.” Not all dogs that are infected with canine hepatitis become ill, but some of the dogs that do become ill can be very sick and some may die. Have your veterinarian test your dog’s blood to see if it has protective levels of antibodies to adenovirus. If so, your new dog may not need a vaccine.

Noncore Vaccines: bordetella, parainfluenza, corona, leptospirosis and lyme disease.

When deciding to vaccinate for noncore diseases, consider whether your dog will be exposed to these diseases. If not, don’t use them. Also consider whether your dog is predisposed to develop allergies, immune problems, or endocrine diseases, all of which may be stimulated by over vaccinating.

There is sufficient information on dog breeds that we can identify those breeds likely to have allergies, immune, and endocrine problems. One source of this information is the “predisposed” breed list that accompanies diseases covered at Veterinarians and breeders are also sources of this information. Knowing whether your dog’s breed is predisposed to the problems caused by vaccines,  makes it possible to better evaluate the wisdom of using noncore vaccines.

Bordetella, parainfluenza

Bordetella, parainfluenza, and several other organisms work together to cause kennel cough. Kennel cough is  spread by coughing and by respiratory secretions of infected dogs. Humane Societies, animal shelters, boarding facilities, and doggy daycares are places that your pet may be exposed to kennel cough. If your pet will not visit these places, the vaccine may not be necessary.


causes mild vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia in most dogs. If a dog is unhealthy or if it will be exposed to multiple diseases at once—including corona virus—this vaccine may be helpful.


(lepto) causes kidney and liver disease in dogs. Some dogs will be infected and will not have symptoms, others will become quite ill. Lepto is a zoonotic disease that can be spread from animals to people. Unfortunately, there are over 200 types (serovars) of lepto and vaccinating for one type will not protect against any of the other types. Current lepto vaccines protect for up to 4 types.

Lepto vaccines are more likely than any other vaccine to make your dog ill, so clearly evaluate whether your new dog will need the vaccine. Dogs are not exposed to lepto unless they contact urine of infected animals. Exposure occurs if dogs walk through or swim in water that infected animals have urinated in. If your pet might be in a flood, or might pass through runoff from feedlots or hog barns, it might be exposed. If your pet plays in marshy wildlife areas, it might be exposed.

Lyme disease

is transmitted by ticks. Lyme is a zoonotic disease that is not spread directly from animals to humans, but is spread to dogs and to humans by ticks. Thus, the tick that infected your dog can also infect you. Most dogs living in tick-infected areas have antibodies to the infection. Having antibodies means these dogs have been bitten by ticks, however, very few dogs actually become ill from Lyme disease. Those that do become ill can develop a painful arthritis and a chronic kidney disease. If your pet is never going to play in the woods or in areas that have ticks, this vaccine is not necessary. If your pet is going to be exposed, discuss the odds that it will develop disease with your veterinarian before deciding to use this vaccine.

The articles here were answered by a variety of pharmacists and veterinarians
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  • Vaccines can both help and harm dogs.
  • Choose only the core and noncore vaccines your pet needs.

    This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your veterinarian. The information is NOT to be used for diagnosis or treatment of your pet. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.

    The information about medications is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, allergic reactions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for your pet. It is not a substitute for a veterinary exam, and it does not replace the need for services provided by your veterinarian.

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