Dog Vaccines

The following is a listing of the diseases that we vaccinate for. Brief facts are given in an effort to present this material in a form that is easily remembered and used.


Parvo causes severe bloody diarrhea and high fever in young dogs which are usually four to six months of age. The initial sign is, loss of appetite, followed by vomiting and pain, then, by bloody diarrhea. The mother’s immunity tends to last until the puppy is four months old, therefore, if not vaccinated after four months, most pups will be susceptible. Parvo also suppresses the white blood cells that help fight disease, the neutrophil count decreases to zero in some dogs. This opens the dog to bacterial infections of the blood (septicemia). Septicemia can be a major cause of death in puppies infected with parvovirus. Parvo is spread by urine and feces. The virus will live for over 1 year in the environment. Therefore, new puppies placed into an environment which was previously inhabited by a “Parvo-puppy” will be likely to contract the disease. Bleach is one of the only cleansing agents effective at killing parvovirus and should be diluted to 1:32 dilution. Newer cleaners are available that kill Parvo but Nolvasan® and Rocal® do not kill parvovirus. Vaccination usually prevents the disease. First Dose Parvo vaccine is recommended. This vaccine bypasses the mothers immunity and causes the puppies immune system to become active earlier. Treatment is possible but is very time consuming and expensive. We recommend all dogs be treated for parvovirus once it is diagnosed. See the section on Parvovirus infection for more information.


Parainfluenza is a virus that causes flu-like symptoms. The symptoms are coughing, sneezing, runny eyes and nose. Pets usually have a mild elevation in body temperature. The intranasal Bordetella vaccine has parainfluenza vaccine in it. Parainfluenza virus may be one of the causes of “kennel cough”.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of puppies which affects the kidneys and the blood causing bloody urine and yellow membranes (jaundice). Lepto is an uncommon disease except in rural farming communities. Puppies catch it from contaminated water supply (water that has been soiled by feces or urine, usually of farm animals). Rats are also a source of infection to dogs. Vaccination usually prevents the disease but it is not 100% effective. Vaccination of lepto in the past to very young puppies resulted in an adverse reaction associated with fever and lethargy which may be the result of immunosuppression (reduced immune function). Many breeders do not want their puppies vaccinated for this disease prior to twelve weeks of age.


Hepatitis is a rare disease now, but it used to be very common before vaccinations were prevalent. This virus affects the liver and causes jaundice. It is usually fatal. Vaccination usually prevents the disease but it is not 100% effective.


Distemper is a serious disease of dogs which kills almost every dog that contracts it. It causes high fever, pneumonia, runny eyes, runny nose and diarrhea. Distemper usually strikes young puppies up to four months of age. “Chewing gum fits” are common in puppies with distemper. Distemper also causes seizures in older dogs. Vaccination usually prevents the disease but it is not 100% effective.


Coronavirus usually causes diarrhea in pups but it will also cause diarrhea in older dogs as well. It is commonly seen in boarding kennels. Dogs will go home with diarrhea that may be diagnosed as “stress” or “diet Change”. Most clients will have to bring the pet in for treatment. The diarrhea is not usually bloody like parvovirus infection, but is yellow brown with gas. Some vomiting may be seen as well but this is uncommon. If present the fever is very mild. Coronavirus infection is not as severe as parvovirus infection but it may be hard to distinguish between the two in the early stages. There is no drop in the white blood cell count. Corona is common in young puppies and older dogs whereas Parvo affects puppies at four to six months. Vaccination usually prevents the disease but it is not 100% effective.


Bordetella is a bacterial disease of the trachea and the bronchi of the lungs, and is the cause of “Kennel Cough”. Animals are usually vaccinated against Bordetella prior to boarding, grooming, dog shows, or hospitalization. The vaccination should be given 10 days to two weeks prior to boarding if possible. The intranasal vaccination gives some immunity within twenty-four to thirty-six hours and is recommended.

Lyme’s Disease

Lyme’s disease is a syndrome of fever and arthritis which can be passed to humans and can be fatal which is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi that is transmitted by ticks. Animals are vaccinated if they have contact with large numbers of ticks. Hunting dogs are most likely to contract this. Vaccination is repeated in three weeks for a booster then annually. Tick control with the Preventic® collar (amitraz) will also help. Recently some researchers have questioned the efficacy of vaccination for this disease.