Canine Vaccines Required by Law

Dog vaccinations are a two-sided coin. While you have to vaccinate your dog against some diseases and want to vaccinate him against others, they can be expensive and come with side effects.

Rabies Vaccines

Though rabies has been wiped out among domestic animals, most states in the U.S. require dogs to be vaccinated against it. Mississippi, for example, mandates that every dog over 3 must be inoculated. Any dog owner who has not vaccinated his dog against rabies with the recommended dosage could face jail. In comparison, California states that a dog owner should vaccinate a dog at 4 months.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine suggests that dogs get a booster after one year and a further vaccination shot every three years. Standards may vary depending which state you live in, so be sure to check your local requirements.

Canine Core Vaccines

Though rabies is the only vaccine required by law, it is not the only core vaccine. Authorities highly recommend you vaccinate your dog against canine parvovirus, distemper virus, adenovirus type 2 and hepatitis, according to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. Your puppy should receive a dose of vaccine containing modified live virus every three to four weeks from 6 to 8 weeks of age. He will receive his final booster when he is 16 weeks old.

For dogs older than 16 weeks, UC Davis recommends that your vet administer two doses of vaccine containing modified live virus three to four weeks apart. Your dog should receive a booster after one year and a vaccination every three years.

Canine Non-Core Vaccines

Canine non-core vaccines are optional and depend largely on your lifestyle and where you live. For example, if you need to put your dog in a boarding kennel once in a while, you will need to vaccinate him against against canine parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica. You should also keep a close eye on epidemics in your local area. In 2011 in New York, for instance, there was an outbreak of dog flu. However, be mindful not to give your dog too many unnecessary vaccinations, as some can cause side effects such as grumpiness and depression.

Titer Tests

With vets recommending core vaccinations every three years and a number of non-core vaccinations on top, the whole process can have a heavy bearing on both your wallet and your dog. A solution is to pay for a titer test, which will examine your dog's antibodies to find out exactly what vaccinations he needs. Though a titer test is not cheap, you only need to do it once. The most recommended test examines antibodies for both parvovirus and distemper.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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