Petplan pet insurance presents: Puppy steps - non-core vaccines

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Mar 22 2010

“Core” vaccines, vaccines that all puppies should get regardless of their lifestyle, are an important step in protecting the health of your young best friends. In addition, there are also some “non-core” vaccines that are appropriate for some dogs.


This is commonly called the kennel cough vaccine. Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a contagious respiratory disease noted for its distinctive hacking cough. The cough can be quite persistent and occasionally can progress to pneumonia. If your pup will come into contact with other dogs on a routine basis (such as going to puppy classes, the groomer, and especially boarding facilities), he should probably get the kennel cough vaccine. Most boarding facilities require this vaccine before your pet is boarded.


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Lyme disease is a complicated issue. If you ask 10 veterinarians what they think about the Lyme vaccine, you will get 10 different answers. Here are the facts: Lyme disease is spread by the deer tick, and is mostly seen in the Northeastern US (although it is spreading southward). It causes shifting leg lameness, a lack of appetite, fever, and lethargy. There is debate as to whether it also causes kidney disease.

If you live in an area where there is no Lyme disease, your pup does not need the Lyme vaccine. If there is Lyme in your area, and your dog goes outdoors where he may come into contact with ticks, you should consider the vaccine for your dog. If you choose to have your puppy get the Lyme vaccine, it will be given at his 12 week visit and boostered at his 16 week visit.

What’s left?

There are a few other vaccines out there worth mentioning.

Coronavirus: Coronavirus is similar to parvovirus in that it attacks the gastrointestinal system. However, it is much less common and much less severe than parvovirus. In fact, clinical prevalence is so low that the vaccine is currently not recommended.

Giardia: Giardia is a protozoal parasite that can cause diarrhea. A vaccine exists, though because it does not prevent infection, it is not recommended for the general population of dogs. The vaccine does prevent shedding of the organism to decrease spread of infection, so it may be helpful in a kennel situation should an outbreak occur.

Porphyromonas: This is the “dental” vaccine, and its target is bacteria associated with periodontal disease. It aims to decrease bone loss in severe dental disease. At this time, it is not thought to be needed for all dogs, and it certainly shouldn’t take the place of basic at-home dental care. It is clear that this vaccine is of some benefit to certain dogs who are prone to dental disease, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian about whether your pup would fit into that category.

In the next blog, we’ll wrap up our lead into National Puppy Day with a look at the road ahead in puppyhood!

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