Top 10 things you need to know about AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines

Vaccination is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect your dog’s health, and it also protects against some diseases that can be spread from dogs to humans. AAHA’s 2022 Canine Vaccination Guidelines provides guidance to your veterinarian that helps them determine the best vaccination plans for your dog.



Meet Clark!
Clark is our mascot for the 2022 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines, designed by artist Lili Chin. As a fully vaccinated pup, Clark represents the everyday superheroes who safeguard human and animal health by doing their part to stay protected.

Top 10 things you need to know about the guidelines

  1. Get a rabies vaccine for your dog—it’s the law. Rabies is a fatal—and preventable—disease that can be spread to humans by contact with saliva, so it’s mandatory in all fifty US states. Your veterinarian is bound by law to give your dog a rabies vaccine to protect you as well as your pet; if an unvaccinated dog is scratched or bitten by a wild animal, it can lead to your pet being quarantined or euthanized. Learn the specifics about the rabies laws in your state at
  2. All dogs must have certain vaccines. Some vaccines, like rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccines, are required for all dogs to protect against dangerous infectious diseases.
  3. Other vaccines are just as essential for your dog, based on lifestyle and other factors. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your dog’s lifestyle, environment, and travel to help tailor the perfect vaccination plan for him. AAHA’s Lifestyle-Based Vaccine Calculator uses factors such as whether your dog visits dog parks, groomers, competes in dog shows, swims in freshwater lakes, or goes to boarding to help you and your veterinarian develop your dog’s individualized vaccination plan.
  4. The leptospirosis vaccine should be considered for all dogs. Because of the increasing prevalence of leptospirosis across the United States, all dogs who spend any time outdoors are likely to be at risk of leptospirosis.

Vaccines required for ALL dogs

Vaccines required for SOME dogs, based on risk factors

  • Rabies
  • Combination vaccine:
    • Distemper
    • Adenovirus-2
    • Parvovirus
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
    • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Leptospira
    • 4-serovar
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Canine influenza (H3N8 and H3N2)
  • Crotalus atrox (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake)


  1. Some vaccines only need boosters every three years. For example, the distemper vaccine, a combination of distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus vaccines that protects against very serious diseases, can be given every three years after a dog has completed his initial series of vaccinations.
  2. Protect at-risk dogs annually from certain diseases. If your veterinarian believes your dog is at risk for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, influenza and/or Bordetella (kennel cough), you’ll want to vaccinate him every year instead of every three years because of the differences in how a dog’s immune system responds to these specific germs.
  3. Serious vaccine reactions are rare. The risk of contracting a dangerous disease by not vaccinating a dog outweighs the potential for vaccination side effects. Seek veterinary attention if your dog begins vomiting and scratching, develops bumps (hives), facial swelling, or has difficulty breathing within a few hours of being vaccinated. Long-term side effects, like behavioral changes, immune-mediated diseases, and other complex conditions, have not been formally linked to vaccinations.
  4. Don’t administer vaccines to your dog by yourself! While vaccines are available through sources other than your veterinarian, they may not protect your pet against disease unless they are properly stored, handled, and administered. Your veterinary team is trained to do this correctly. In many states and provinces, it is against the law for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to give a rabies vaccine.
  5. AAHA’s Canine Vaccination Guidelines are based on science. An expert task force of veterinarians created them, based on practical clinical experience and current scientific evidence. The guidelines also underwent an external review process.
  6. Communicate any concerns to your veterinarian. You and your veterinary team have the same goal: to provide the best possible care for your dog. Make sure your veterinarian is aware of any concerns or questions you have. Your veterinarian will offer recommendations based on their knowledge of your dog’s specific circumstances and veterinary medicine..

Like Clark, you can help your dog be an everyday hero by getting all of his required and recommended vaccinations and following the vaccination schedule determined by your veterinarian.