Vaccine Protocols

Vaccination Protocols are a topic that MANY pet owners are not sure of when it comes to the actual standards. They trust the information provided to them by their vet and/or they just do what their parents did with their dogs. This additional information concerning vaccinations can help you become educated on the topic and what is best for your dog. Make sure you talk to your vet before you make any final decisions.

All puppies and dogs under the age of ten need vaccinations. If you are someone who believes that over-vaccination is an issue, then you need to run a titer on your dog once a year to make sure that he/she is still “covered” by their previous vaccinations. ALL large breed puppies need a minimum of four vaccines. These include one DA2PP, two DA2PP+LV vaccines, and one Rabies vaccine. This is to make sure that they have the correct antibody response to the vaccines given so they are actually protected against what they are being vaccinated for. These four vaccines are the minimum. There are also beneficial vaccines that your vet can provided depending on where you live. These “optional” vaccines include Leptospirosis, Corona Virus, Rattle Snake, and Lyme.

The Schedule We Follow

Below is the vaccination schedule we follow with our own dogs

For the Rabies Vaccine (RV) you need to follow the rules of your county. If it is required yearly, it must be given yearly. If they allow every three years, than it can be skipped until the three-year mark is reached.

These vaccinations are NECESSARY and NOT optional. In addition, they are required by our contract. We would not require them if these vaccines were not important to your puppy. In addition, you may have a vet that chooses to spread the vaccines out in three week intervals. In this case, your puppy will need vaccines at 7, 10, 13, and 16 weeks. The reason for this is that your puppy needs its last vaccine at or after the age of 16 weeks for the best immune response.

Future Vaccination Protocols

If you follow this protocol, at the age of one year, your dog should get the one-year booster. After the age of one, your dog will not need a DA2PP+Lepto booster every year. However, we recommend that you get a titer run two to four weeks after the one-year booster. If your dog has an immune response, it will be covered for a MINIMUM of SIX years. Your dog does not HAVE to have a yearly booster, every THREE years will suffice if you do not want to run the titer and would prefer to just re-vaccinate. We fully support limited adult vaccinations. However, you need to discuss what makes you comfortable with your vaccination.  

Nonetheless, if your dog travels with you, is bred, is a hunting dog, is a service dog, or is in competition, every three years until the age of 10 is still recommended. The other option is to run a titer every three years.

Concerning the Rabies Vaccination, you need to follow the laws of the county where you live.

Do Not Skip the Vet

In addition, just because you may not have to get boosters every year does not mean that you should avoid the vet. Your dog still needs to be kept on heartworm prevention and flea control. In addition, a yearly wellness check is always a good idea. Some dogs may have a slight ear infection or may have lost 5 lbs in a year without the owner noticing because the dog is not “complaining” or because it happens gradually.  Wellness checks can point these out to you.

Other Vaccination Protocols (Vaccine Information)

I recommend giving the Rabies Vaccination a bit later in life due to the developing immune system in pups. By 16 weeks of age, according to studies, their body tends to process the Rabies vaccination more efficiently. There are multiple other vaccinations available to dog owners.  You need to have a conversation with your veterinarian and then decide which vaccinations you believe your dog REALLY needs.


This is a vaccination for Leptospirosis Virus and it has a higher reaction rate.  Since this is the case, your puppy should not get this vaccine until 11 weeks of age. After this point, the reaction rate lowers and the vaccine is more beneficial. However, it is important to talk to your vet about this vaccine as it does not PREVENT Leptospirosis, it only lessens the chance and/or reduces the infection.


This is also known as kennel cough. If your dog is going to be boarded or in a training class with other dogs this is a good vaccination. If you plan on socializing your dog in an area where it is not open-air, it is a smart idea to get this vaccine. However, if your pup stays home or only plays in dog parks or with dogs that you know are not infected, the vaccine is not really necessary. Make sure your dog is given the intra-nasal vaccination and not the subcutaneous vaccination. The SQ vaccination has a high reaction rate and by many dogs respond to the vaccination, it burns.

Corona Virus

Many vets will give DA2PP + CV shots. This vaccination includes the coronavirus.  Please insist that your pup is given these shots separately and not as a combo vaccination. If for some reason your pup has a reaction to the combo shot, there is no way to tell which vaccination your dog is having the reaction to because they are combined. Once again, unless corona is a problem in your area, it is not needed.

Rattle Snake

This is a good vaccination if you are in an area where your dog could easily be bitten. However, you should give this vaccination at least 2 weeks apart from any other vaccinations. Do not combine them. Vaccine is designed to help the dog develop antibodies in response to the appearance of rattlesnake venom in the body. These antibodies can result in less pain and tissue damage in the area of the bite and more time to get to a veterinary clinic after a bite.


The opinion on this option is still up in the air depending on who you want to listen to.  Once again, if you choose to give this vaccination, please do not give it back to back with other vaccines.

Other Vaccination Protocols

You can find a number of vaccine protocols on the web at AVMA.ORG or, you can find quite a bit of information on vaccines. The Vaccine protocol that is most supported is the one devised by Dr. Jean Dodds. The complete report can be found here: Vaccine Recommendations.

Current Principles of Immunology

According to Dr. Jean Dodds:

“Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (ie: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not “boosted” nor are more memory cells induced. Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, but they also subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.”

Vaccination of Puppies

Before the age of 6 weeks, a puppy should not be vaccinated. To vaccinate a puppy for ANYTHING before this age is not beneficial to the puppy in any way. From the time the puppies are born until two weeks after they are weaned, they are protected by their dam’s immune system. These antibodies are provided through the dam’s milk. Two weeks after weaning, the puppy’s own immune system is ready to produce new antibodies.

Vaccinating too early can diminish the puppy’s future immune reaction. “Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced.” (Dodds) In addition, Dodds states that, “A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination is given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 mo) will provide lifetime immunity.”

Vaccinations NOT Recommended:

Multiple components in vaccines compete with each other for the immune system and result in lesser immunity for each individual disease as well as increasing the risk of a reaction. Canine coronavirus is only a disease of puppies. It is rare, and self-limiting (dogs get well in 3 days without treatment). Cornell and Texas A&M have only diagnosed one case each in the last 7 years. Coronavirus rarely causes disease in adult dogs.

New Developments:

Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in North America. Statistics show giardia infects 30% or more of all dogs and cats. In addition, there is proof that humans can transmit giardia to dogs and cats and vice versa. 

Final Thought: 

Dogs and cats no longer need to be vaccinated against distemper, parvo, or feline leukemia every year. Immunity from the modified live-virus vaccines persists in an animal's system. This will continue for a minimum of three years and can last up to the life of the dog. These results take effect once a puppy or kitten has been given their first three rounds of vaccinations and the first annual vaccinations (at one year) are completed. It has been shown that cats over 1 year of age are immune to Feline Leukemia whether they have been vaccinated or not. Avoiding unnecessary vaccines such as K-9 Coronavirus and chlamydia for cats, as well as those vaccines that are not completely effective are all worth discussing with your veterinarian.

The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) and all 27 veterinary schools in North America are the biggest endorsements for these new protocols.

Final Decision is Your Choice

Remember that your dog is yours. Just like with children, you want to do what is best for them. NOT vaccinating your dog is dangerous, irresponsible, and foolish. Nonetheless, over-vaccinating your dog is also senseless. Discuss this information with your vet. However, do not forget, YOU are the one that makes the decision. If your vet tries to push you without giving you logical and data-supported arguments, then you should look for another vet.

Here is a great video you may want to check out on this issue: Core Vaccines with Dr. Schultz and Rabies Vaccine Discussion.

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