Dog Vaccination Protocols

“Anytime you inject anything into a patient you have the potential of killing them”.

—Prof. Ron Schultz, DVM.

The practice of giving dogs several different vaccinations against various diseases all at the same time early in life and then again every year as “boosters” for the rest of their lives is coming to a close. This is for two primary reasons: animals can have adverse reactions to vaccinations that can impair their health for the rest of their lives; routine “booster” shots are not needed since earlier vaccinations have given animals sufficient immunity to the diseases in question.

First, puppies should not be given vaccinations before 8-10 weeks of age since this can interfere with the natural immunity in their systems conferred by the colostrum or first milk of their mothers. But if the immune status of the mother is unknown, as is the situation for many to-be-adopted pups in animal shelters, vaccinations at an earlier age between 5-6 weeks is the usual protocol. Adult animals in a compromised immune state, as for example those who are ill, injured, or being given an anesthetic and operated on, such as being spayed or castrated, or for any other surgical procedure, are pregnant or nursing, or are old and infirm, should not be vaccinated.

Rabies vaccinations, unless in-field conditions make this logistically difficult, should never be given at the same time other combined vaccinations are given. Separate by at least 3 weeks.

For minimal basic vaccination protocols, developed by Dr. Jean Dodds, see Table 1.

Studies have shown that in normal, healthy dogs at the time of vaccination, Parvovirus vaccines are good for 7 years, Rabies vaccines for 3-7 years, Distemper vaccines for 5-15 years (depending on the strain), and Adenovirus 2 vaccines for 7-9 years. Prof. Ron Schultz recommends using Merial’s 3-way combo; parvo, distemper and CAV2/hepatitis as the only relatively safe combination of vaccines.

If your dog received all core vaccines by 16 weeks of age, have antibody blood titers evaluated at 1 year of age if you have reservations about re-vaccination.

Corona virus and giardia vaccinations for dogs are not recommended.

For dogs at risk, Leptospirosis vaccine (the four-serovar product of Fort Dodge being preferred) should be given at 12 and 15 weeks and repeated one year later. It only confers protection, however, for 3-4 months, so repeated vaccinations are called for with dogs with significant exposure risk.

Lyme vaccine should be given to at-risk dogs but the bacterium vaccine can cause immune-complex disease so Merial’s recombinant Lyme vaccine is preferred. Again, blood serum titers should be taken to assess dog’s immune status where there is doubt, rather than simply giving booster shots.

Neither Lyme disease vaccinations, that give highly unreliable protection, nor leptospirosis vaccinations should be given close to the time that any other vaccinations are given.

No vaccine can guarantee immunity, since different strains of infective agents may be involved, and animals who are stressed, suffering from poor nutrition, genetic susceptibility and concurrent disease may have impaired immune systems and lowered resistance to disease. But this does not mean that they should never be vaccinated or be routinely re-vaccinated just in case, because vaccinations can cause further immune system impairment and a host of health problems—the so called vaccinosis diseases— that these new vaccination protocols are aimed at minimizing.

For further information, contact a holistic veterinarian in your area. A searchable list can be found at Veterinarians wishing to learn more are encouraged to become members of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association at

Veterinarians desiring more information, Vaccine Waiver Consent Forms & Sample Rabies Exemption Letter, contact the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Tel: 410-569-0795 or e-mail



Age of Pups Vaccine Type
9 - 10 weeks Distemper virus + Parvovirus, MLV
14 weeks Same as above
20 weeks or older, if allowable by law Rabies
1 year Distemper virus + Parvovirus, MLV (optional)
1 year Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from any other vaccine)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every 3 yrs, or more often, if desired. Written waiver of rabies booster, with justification by client veterinarian, with rabies antibody titer recorded, may be granted. See

W. Jean Dodds, DVM. Hemopet, 938 Stanford Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403; 310-828-4804; Fax 310-828-8251; e-mail


* from: Schultz, Ford, Olsen, Scott. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert)


Duration of serological response to canine parvovirus-type 2, canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 1 and canine parainfluenza virus in client-owned dogs in Australia.

Aust Vet J. December 2012;90(12):468-73.

S A Mitchell1; R J Zwijnenberg; J Huang; A Hodge; M J Day

1Pfizer Animal Health, 38-42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, New South Wales 2114, Australia.

© 2012 The Authors. Australian Veterinary Journal © 2012 Australian Veterinary Association.

Article Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether client-owned dogs in Australia, last vaccinated with Canvac(®) vaccines containing canine parvovirus-type 2 (CPV-2), canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) ± canine parainfluenza virus (CPiV) at least 18 months ago, were seropositive or responded serologically to revaccination. METHODS: A total of 235 dogs were recruited from 23 veterinary clinics, representing a variety of breeds, ages and time since last vaccination (TSLV: range 1.5-9 years, mean 2.8 years). Dogs had a blood sample taken and were revaccinated on day 0. A second blood sample was taken 7-14 days later. Blood samples were assessed for antibody titres to CPV-2 (by haemagglutination inhibition) and CDV, CAV type 1 (CAV-1) and CPiV (by virus neutralisation). Dogs with a day 0 titre >10 or a four-fold increase in titre following revaccination were considered to be serological responders. RESULTS: The overall percentage of dogs classified as serological responders was 98.7% for CPV-2, 96.6% for CDV, 99.6% for CAV-1 and 90.3% for CPiV. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the duration of serological response induced by modified-live vaccines against CPV-2, CDV, CAV-1 and CPiV, including Canvac(®) vaccines, is beyond 18 months and may extend up to 9 years. Accordingly, these vaccines may be considered for use in extended revaccination interval protocols as recommended by current canine vaccine guidelines.

Veterinarians in the U.K are being urged to adopt the vaccinations of cats and dogs against “core” diseases (excluding rabies) advocated by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association to its 86 member countries.* They are similar to those that I and other veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada have been advocating for the past 15 years and more on the basis of sound science—advances in vaccinology, immunology and blood titer testing rather than personal opinion, to optimize the benefits and minimize the risks.

The core vaccinations against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus type 2 are all given to pups at 6, 12,16 weeks or older, and 26 weeks of age and at 52 weeks of age if not given at 26 weeks. Then not until 4, then 7 and then 10 years of age with the option of serum testing and then not re-vaccinating if antibody titers show good immunity.

In sum, these core vaccinations need not be given annually. Other vaccinations (non-core) may be called for depending on the region, outbreaks of infections and associated exposure risks.

*See Michael J. Day, Small animal vaccination: a practical guide for vets in the UK. The Veterinary Record, In Practice, 39: 110-118 2017.

CANINE DISTEMPER VACCINATION AT AN ACUPUNCTURE POINT BENEFICIAL Results of this study demonstrated that acupoint vaccination at GV-14 in dogs given CDV vaccination resulted in a significantly elevated humoral immune response to the CDV vaccine when compared to control dogs that did not receive acupoint vaccination. Thus, acupoint vaccination has the potential to enhance the immune response to this immunological challenge. Reference: Perdrizet JA, Shiau DS, Xie H. The serological response in dogs inoculated with canine distemper virus vaccine at the acupuncture point governing vessel-14: A randomized controlled trial. Vaccine. 2019;37(13):1889–1896.