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Noncore Dog Vaccinations

Young puppies are highly susceptible to certain infectious diseases and should be vaccinated against them as soon as they are old enough to build immunity. These diseases are distemper, infectious hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and rabies. Leptospirosis, giardia, coronavirus, bordetella, bronchiseptica, and Lyme diseasevaccinations are optional, depending on the occurrence of these diseases in your area and your dog’s individual risk factors.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has drawn up guidelines categorizing vaccines as core or noncore, and these categories will be indicated for all the vaccines described in this section.

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Leptospirosis Bacterin (Noncore)

Leptospira bacterins may protect against two or four of the most common subspecies of bacteria that cause leptospirosis. The two-serovar bacterin may be incorporated into a DHPP shot given at 12 weeks of age and again at 14 to 16 weeks of age. Many veterinarians give the four-serovar bacterin as a separate injection as early as 12 weeks and then two to three weeks later.

Leptospira bacterin has been responsible for 70 percent of post-vaccination DHLPP anaphylactic shock reactions. Toy breeds and puppies younger than 12 weeks old seem to have the highest rate of reactions to this bacterin. In addition, the two-serovar vaccines do not protect against the two species that are currently responsible for the majority of cases. Accordingly, routine vaccination is now considered optional. It is still indicated in areas where the risk of the disease is greater than the risk of the vaccination. Leptospirosis is not contained in all the combination vaccines and can be given separately.

Both Fort Dodge and Pfizer have vaccines that now cover all four of the primary serovars of leptospirosis. These are subunit vaccines, so there is less chance of an allergic reaction to the vaccine. With leptospirosis cases on the rise, this vaccine may be recommended in more areas. Immunity following vaccination averages about four to six months. Therefore, if vaccination is important, it may be advisable to revaccinate every six months. Discuss this with your veterinarian.

Canine Parainfluenza (Noncore)

Parainfluenza is the principal virus implicated in the kennel cough complex. Vaccines will decrease the prevalence and severity of the infection, but will not prevent the disease. Parainfluenza is incorporated into the canine distemper-measles-parainfluenza and DHPP shots. The first dose is given at 8 to 12 weeks of age and the second at 16 weeks. AAHA 2006 guidelines are to give the vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks of age, then every three to four weeks until the dog is 12 to 14 weeks of age, but many veterinarians prefer to wait until a puppy is 7 or 8 weeks of age to start vaccinations. An intranasal vaccine that combines the bordetella vaccine is also available.

The injectable parainfluenza vaccine protects dogs but does not eliminate the virus from nasal secretions. That means dogs can still transmit the infection. The intranasal vaccine protects against both disease and infection, thus eliminating the possibility of transmitting the disease to other dogs.

Annual boosters are recommended by the manufacturer. However, evidence suggests that parainfluenza vaccines do not always protect for the full 12 months, and in many cases should be given twice a year, especially for dogs at increased risk. This recommendation is only for the parainfluenza vaccine-not for the other viruses that are often included in a combination vaccine. This is not a core vaccine, so it should only be given to dogs with lifestyles that increase their risk, such as show dogs and dogs who will be boarded.

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