Technologies used in the manufacturing of vaccines for animals have expanded significantly over the past decade. The number of licensed vaccines continues to grow, driven largely by the need to protect dogs against emerging pathogens, enhance vaccine safety, and improve immunogenicity of existing vaccines.83

Veterinarians make vaccination recommendations based on many factors, including the age and the lifestyle of each canine patient. Every dog should receive immunization with core vaccines for rabies virus, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus- 2.82,83 Veterinarians have considerable ability to use biologics in a discretionary manner but also should be aware of any state- or provincial-specific restrictions in their veterinary practice act for implementing regulations. Customized plans for noncore vaccines are indicated in accordance with existing guidelines.83

The recommended core immunization schedule is designed to protect puppies early in life when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Booster vaccinations in adult and senior dogs are indicated per current guidelines and may change based on re-evaluating lifestyle and exposure risks.82–86

Vaccines are intended to produce active immunity to specific antigens. An adverse reaction is an undesirable side effect that occurs after a vaccination. Vaccine adverse reactions can be classified as local, systemic, or allergic. Dog owners should be informed about the benefits of and risks from vaccines and given an opportunity for questions before each vaccination procedure.

Antibody testing is increasingly being requested for canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, and canine adenovirus-2. When assessing test results, the veterinarian should have a clear understanding of the indications for testing and the interpretation of test results. Antibody testing for the purposes of determining protection from infection is discussed at length in the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.83

The 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines are supported by generous educational grants from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, Elanco Animal Health, Hill’s ® Pet Nutrition, Inc., IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Merck Animal Health and Zoetis Petcare.