Disclaimer: This article is based on my educated opinion, from research I’ve done. It should not replace your need to research and talk to your vet about what is best for your dog and your situation.
Vaccination requirements in Maryland, as well as most states are limited to the Rabies vaccination, although there are many other vaccinations that are recommended and that you can choose from. Vaccinations may be given as independent injections, or as combination vaccines.
The most common optional and highly recommended vaccination for puppies, is the Parvovirus vaccine. It’s typically given as a combo vaccine, which vaccinates against five potentially deadly viruses for puppies. (Adult dogs can get them, too, although the severity of the disease is not as great as it is in puppies.) The five diseases that the combo vaccine protects against are canine distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. This vaccine is typically recommended to give to puppies as early as 4 weeks of age, and boosters are given throughout puppyhood, and an additional booster at one year of age. Recent studies are showing the effectiveness of the booster to last up to seven years! Additional diseases may be covered in similar parvo combo vaccines, such as leptospirosis (more on this, later), although these combo vaccines are generally not recommended, depending on who you’re talking to.
There are also vaccines that protect against potentially deadly or life altering bacteria, such as those that cause Lepto, and Lyme’s Disease. It’s important to note that Lepto and Lyme’s Disease can effect people, as well. As some of you may know, I recently had a dog pass away due to complications of Leptospirosis, a bacteria transmitted through other infected animals. (In our case, my dog Dojo was infected from exposure to rats in our alley. He was a healthy six-year-old dog.) Because these vaccines protect against bacteria, their effectiveness is not as long as a vaccine that protects against viruses. As with many vaccinations, these only protect against a small portion of the strains of bacteria, and are not without risk. If you choose to have them administered, it is recommended for your dog to receive them yearly. It is also generally recommended that these be given as independent injections, separate from other vaccines. This is to increase effectiveness, as well as to prevent complications. It is typically not recommended for senior dogs to receive these injections because of risk of complication.
What vaccines should your dog receive? Well, that’s completely up to you! (With the exception of the rabies vaccine.) Do your research, speak to your vet, and make the decisions that are best for your household. Because the dogs in my home are currently 7 and 12 years old, they currently get vaccinated for rabies, only. Even though I recently had a dog pass away due to Lepto, I’m still on the fence about this vaccine, and am weighing risks/benefits and speaking with my vet with regard to vaccinating Red, my 7-year-old, against this and possibly other diseases. As a senior at 12, Star will not be receiving vaccines, other than rabies.