Posted on November 5, 2017
Updated Canine Vaccination Guidelines
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has released their 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines, the first update of this document since the 2011 version. A task force of veterinary experts who prepared the guidelines based their recommendations on vaccine research, immunological principles and clinical experience.
The two core vaccinations (those that every dog should receive barring special circumstances) discussed within the guidelines are:
- DAPP: a combination of Canine Distemper Virus, Adenovirus-2, and Parvovirus +/- Parainfluenza Virus
The roster of noncore vaccinations (those that may be warranted depending on the dog’s lifestyle) now includes:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica + canine parainfluenza virus (kennel cough)
- Bordetella bronchiseptica only (kennel cough)
- Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
- Canine Influenza Virus– H3N8
- Canine Influenza Virus– H3N2
- Crotalus atrox (rattlesnake vaccine)
Antibody testing versus revaccinating
The 2017 Vaccination Guidelines provides in-depth information about antibody testing (also referred to as titer testing, vaccine titers, and vaccine serology). Antibody testing involves analyzing a small blood sample to determine the level of protective immunity against a particular disease, for example parvovirus or distemper. We know that a distemper/parvovirus vaccination protects for a minimum of three years, but beyond this time period the duration of immunity varies from dog to dog. For some, protection lasts a lifetime.
Distemper, canine adenovirus-2, and parvovirus antibody testing have become readily available. Many veterinarians use a tableside test that provides results within minutes. A negative test result supports revaccinating. Conversely, a positive test result indicates that revaccination is likely not warranted at that time. Antibody testing for rabies is also available but is rarely warranted given that state law dictates the frequency of revaccination.
Antibody testing is becoming more popular amongst people who prefer to rely on test results rather than automatically give a distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus booster every three years. Vaccine serology is also useful for determining if a puppy who has just completed the vaccination series has mounted an adequate immune system response. Additionally, antibody testing can be helpful in situations in which revaccinating might not be a wise choice such as:
- A dog with a chronic illness
- A dog who is very elderly
- A dog who has experienced a prior adverse reaction to a vaccination
- A dog with a history of immune-mediated (autoimmune disease)
- A dog who is receiving drugs that could suppress the immune system’s response to a vaccination
The 2017 version of the Vaccination Guidelines contains a brand new section devoted to “therapeutic biologics.” While these products are often referred to as vaccines (for example, the melanoma vaccine), they behave quite differently compared to traditional vaccines. Rather than protect against disease, therapeutic biologics are designed to elicit an immune system response that alters the course of a disease such as cancer, or modifies an animal’s response to an immune mediated (autoimmune disease). The Vaccination Guidelines includes discussion of therapeutic biologics as treatments for:
- Canine oral melanoma
- Canine B-cell lymphoma
- Canine T-cell lymphoma
- Canine atopic dermatitis (atopy)
- Canine cancers
- Tumor-derived immunotherapy for canine cancer
- Mammary cancers in dogs
How often should vaccinations be given?
The recommended timing and frequency of vaccinations hasn’t changed to any significant degree, particularly for the core vaccinations. Rabies and DAPP vaccinations need not be administered to adult dogs more than once every three years. Recommended schedules for the noncore vaccinations vary based on type of vaccine and route of inoculation.
Keep in mind that, just as is true for any other medical procedure, vaccinations carry inherent benefits as well as the potential for adverse side effects. Giving unnecessary vaccinations exposes the dog to all the inherent risks without any possibility of benefit. There’s simply no way this makes any sense whatsoever.
Keep in mind, the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines are guidelines only. The recommendations within this document are not mandatory or enforceable in any way. So, if your veterinarian is one of the holdouts who insists on administering unnecessary vaccinations (those that are unnecessary based on your dog’s lifestyle or those given more frequently than recommended), I encourage you to step up to the plate as your dog’s medical advocate and find a new veterinarian.
How have your views on vaccinations for your dog changed over the past decade?
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at http://www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.