There are several core vaccines that all dogs should have, regardless of where they live, whether they go outside, and how many other dogs they come into contact with. These core vaccines include the rabies vaccine and the DHPP, which protects against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and influenza. In addition to these core vaccines, however, there are also non-core vaccines that some — but not all — dogs should have. Here is a look at the three most common core vaccines for dogs and which dogs can benefit from them.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by a type of bacteria called Leptospira. The severity of the illness varies widely. Some dogs only develop a mild fever and tiredness which fades away within a couple of days. Others become seriously ill with diarrhea, swollen joints, lethargy, and dehydration. Death is not uncommon.
Leptospirosis is not unique to dogs. Wildlife such as coyotes, bears, raccoons, and rodents can also catch and spread it. Dogs often contract leptospirosis after drinking from bodies of water where these infected animals have defecated or bathed. As such, the leptospirosis vaccine is usually recommended for dogs that spend time in wooded areas and near wildlife, such as hunting dogs or those who go hiking with their owners.
Lyme disease is a serious infection caused by the spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by deer ticks. If an infected deer tick bites your dog, then your dog could come down with Lyme disease, which causes extreme fatigue, joint pain, confusion, and loss of appetite.
Your dog only needs a Lyme disease vaccine if you live in an area where deer ticks are common, such as along the east coast. Even in these areas, if you keep your dog mostly inside and apply a tick preventative every month, your dog may not need a Lyme vaccine. However, the more time they spend outside and in the woods, the more important the vaccine becomes.
Bordetella is more commonly known as kennel cough. It's a bacterial infection that causes sneezing, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms in dogs. While Bordetella is not terribly dangerous or deadly, it is unpleasant for dogs, and it is highly contagious. Vets typically recommend a Bordetella vaccine for dogs who spend time with many other dogs, such as at a kennel or dog park. If you mostly keep your dog away from other dogs, he or she probably does not need this vaccine.
If you think your dog may benefit from one or more of these non-core pet vaccinations, talk to a local vet. They can discuss, in more detail, what each vaccine may do for your pet.