Vaccines for Dogs: Core and Non-Core Explained

Vaccines for dogs can prevent a number of common and dangerous diseases. Some dog vaccines are more important than others, and some, such as the vaccine for rabies, are even required by law.

Core Vaccines Explained

Core vaccines are those vaccines that are considered to be necessary to the maintenance of your dog's health. Puppy vaccines against such common illnesses as canine distemper are core vaccines. The vaccination against rabies is another core vaccine; vaccination against rabies is required by law across the U.S.

Other core dog vaccines include the parvo vaccine and the vaccine against canine hepatitus. Core vaccines such as these are produced under the brand name Duramune.

Non-Core Vaccines Explained

Non-core dog vaccines are not usually considered necessary, but may be administered when exposure to the disease is expected. Vaccines against kennel cough and Lyme disease are among the non-core vaccines for dogs. Vaccinations against such agents as Giardia and even rattlesnake venom are available, though some doubt the effectiveness of such vaccines.

Choosing Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines against rabies, distemper, parvovirus and canine heptatitis should always be given. These vaccines are key to maintaining your dog's good health, and these diseases are too common to risk your dog's health for lack of a vaccine.

However, you can choose to administer or not administer non-core vaccines depending on your preference. Many dog owners choose not to administer non-core vaccines, due to concerns that over-vaccination may be harmful. Furthermore, if your dog isn't at risk for an illness due to circumstances such as geographical location or lifestyle needs, then there isn't much need to vaccinate him against that illness.

Remember that not all vaccines are effective. Non-core vaccines for dogs can put your dog at risk for developing the very illness they are intended to prevent. Vaccines can also have side effects and some dogs have vaccination senstivities. Non-core vaccines can also be costly, so think carefully before deciding to administer non-core vaccines to your dog.

How Often Should Core Vaccines Be Administered?

Laws regarding the frequency of administering certain core vaccines for dogs, such as rabies, are now changing. Prominent veterinarians have expressed concern that yearly vaccinations may be harmful for dogs, and vaccine manufacturers are now developing vaccines that remain active within your dog's body for as long as three. years. In response to these developments, many localities are requiring less frequent boosters of core vaccines such as rabies.