Here at the Blue Oasis Pet Hospital, we have a care standard that extends from the AAHA-certified Canine Vaccination Guidelines, with a twist for any Tennessee lifestyle differences that might be necessary:

All dogs should have the following core vaccines (unless there’s a medical reason not to vaccinate):

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Rabies

In addition to these, other vaccines are just as essential for some dogs based on their lifestyle and risk. These include:

  • Leptospira (should be considered for all dogs based on increasing prevalence)
  • Lyme disease
  • Bordetella
  • Canine influenza
  • Rattlesnake toxoid

Core for an individual patient means they get the vaccines required for ALL dogs PLUS vaccines required based on the dog’s lifestyle and risk factors. When vaccines are overdue or unknown, consider that the benefits of vaccinating outweigh the risks in most cases. A good rule of thumb is: When in doubt, we vaccinate.

What is a dog vaccination?

Dog vaccinations are biological fluids that are administered to dogs to stimulate their immune system. They consist of small amounts of fluid that contain agents of diseases we aim to protect your dog from.

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

How do vaccinations impact the health and well-being of my dog?

Vaccinations are significantly beneficial to your dog's well-being. Without vaccinations, your dog is susceptible to potential diseases in the environment, and vaccinations can help protect them from serious illnesses.

Are dog vaccinations required by law?

Yes, the rabies vaccine is the only dog vaccination required by law.

Does my dog's lifestyle factor into what vaccinations my veterinarian will recommend?

Indeed, lifestyle is a crucial factor in your veterinarian's vaccination recommendations for your dog. Often, when a puppy comes in, we administer a core series of puppy vaccines. These are the vaccines we start giving your dog when they are still a puppy. However, as they mature into adulthood, we will inquire about your dog's activities and whereabouts. Is your dog going to daycare, boarding facilities, or engaging in a lot of hiking? Or is it mostly staying at home in your backyard and leading a more reclusive lifestyle? These different dog lifestyles can be quite distinct, and based on this, we will customize a tailored protocol for your dog's needs.

How soon should I get a dog vaccinated?

Puppy vaccinations typically start at the age of six to eight weeks, with the Distemper and Parvo vaccines. We can begin vaccinating puppies as young as two weeks of age, although as veterinarians, we seldom have the opportunity to see puppies at such a tender age. The majority of our puppies typically begin their vaccinations around the eight-week mark.

Do I really need to avoid allowing my puppy to socialize with other dogs until they're fully vaccinated?

We encourage your puppy to socialize. However, they should avoid places such as dog parks where the risk of contracting diseases is high. We encourage these young puppies to attend puppy kindergarten classes and interact with dogs of their own age group. We believe that healthy dog-to-dog interactions are essential for their development. Additionally, we recommend supervised visits for your puppy with well-vaccinated adult dogs, such as family members' pets in a controlled environment like your home, where the disease risk is minimal. Your choice should align with your lifestyle. However, we strongly advise against taking your new puppy to a dog park, as it could expose them to potential infections.

Why is it important to avoid missing a dog vaccination and what should I do if I do?

If you miss your dog's vaccination, the response depends on their age. When vaccinating a puppy, our typical recommendation is to provide a booster dose every three to four weeks until they reach sixteen to twenty weeks of age. However, if it has been six weeks since their last vaccination, we will simply give them another booster to catch up, even if there has been a lapse in the vaccination schedule. If the lapse has been seven, eight, or more weeks, we might give your puppy a booster and then recommend an additional one. For adult dogs that haven't been vaccinated in years, our usual approach is to provide a booster, but the specific recommendation depends on the length of time since their last vaccination and their age.

What's a typical puppy and dog vaccination schedule?

Our dog vaccination schedule begins when they are puppies. Typically, we start with puppies at around six to eight weeks of age and administer their first distemper-parvo vaccine. Afterward, we re-administer this vaccine every three to four weeks until they reach the age of sixteen to twenty weeks. This constitutes their core puppy series. Once they are between sixteen to twenty weeks old, their puppy series is complete, and we schedule their next vaccination appointment for approximately one year and four months old, on average. This marks the transition to their adult booster shots. The frequency of booster shots varies depending on the specific vaccine, with some needing to be re-boosted every three years, while others require boosters every six to twelve months.

What diseases are prevented by our vaccines?

We classify vaccines into two categories: core and non-core. Our core vaccines include Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis virus, Parainfluenza, and Rabies. Sometimes, you might hear us refer to it as DHP, with the 'L' standing for Leptospirosis. Living in Middle Tennessee, we consider Leptospirosis a core vaccine due to the risk of exposure in our region. Bordetella, which is associated with kennel cough, is another vaccine we commonly discuss. Canine influenza, or the flu vaccine, has also gained popularity as a preventive measure.

In some regions, the Lyme vaccine is a topic of discussion. While Middle Tennessee isn't a high-risk area for Lyme disease, we do have dogs that travel to Lyme-endemic regions, such as the East Coast or the upper Midwest. In such cases, we might consider the Lyme vaccine to protect your pet. Ultimately, the choice of vaccines depends on your pet's lifestyle, and it's crucial to have a discussion with your veterinarian to determine which vaccines are essential for your furry friend.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Vaccinations - FAQs

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

Are all puppy and dog vaccinations necessary?

Yes, as veterinarians we consider vaccinations a necessary part of lifestyle. We have the education to know how to prevent disease. We are also the healthcare providers that see the diseases that these infections can create in animals. We deal with the potential outcomes which can be incredibly life-impacting for individuals, whether it be hospitalizations, ICU, the financial burden that it places on the pet parent. Some dogs that get really ill can have life-threatening illnesses. One example is parvovirus, which is easy for us to protect against through vaccination. If a dog gets exposed and has not been protected, especially if they're a young dog, they're likely to become quite ill with parvovirus. We do see parvo puppy deaths and they are incredibly preventable.

What are the non-core vaccines and why does my dog need them?

Core vaccinations are those that all dogs should have during puppyhood and adulthood. Core vaccines include our distemper parvo vaccination or a DHPP and rabies. Non-core vaccines are anything other than those two. They include leptospirosis, canine influenza, bordetella or kennel cough, and Lyme disease or Lyme vaccine.

Does a senior dog still need vaccinations?

Yes, senior dogs still do need to be immunized. As a dog ages, they are potentially going to become a little more immunocompromised and we still want to protect them from common diseases they have risk for. The conversation can change though as a dog transitions from a senior to a geriatric patient, and depending on its other health conditions. Then your veterinarian will discuss whether vaccines are still indicated, especially when we're dealing with a more sick patient, we might start talking about eliminating or changing our vaccine recommendations.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Vaccinations - FAQs 2

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

When does my puppy or dog need to be vaccinated?

Your puppy needs to be vaccinated starting at six to eight weeks of age. Even if your puppy is a little older than that, it's important to get them started on their vaccinations.

How many times a year does my dog need vaccinations?

We recommend seeing your dog at least once a year or every 12 months. At that time, we'll discuss which vaccines your dog has had or not had and what their lifestyle is. We'll then recommend what vaccines are due. Our usual protocol is to start vaccinations when puppies are six to eight weeks old. They then get booster shots every three to four weeks until they're 16 to 20 weeks old. After that, they get a one-year booster and then every three years after that, depending on the vaccine. However, there can be exceptions.

What kind of variations are there in puppy and dog's vaccines?

The variations include leptospirosis, which we consider a core vaccine here at Blue Oasis because we live in Middle Tennessee. Our pet population is exposed to leptospirosis, a bacteria that's shed in the urine of wildlife. We recommend reboostering this vaccine annually. We also deal with many pets that go to daycare and boarding. They have a higher risk of respiratory exposure, so they should have the Bordetella, or kennel cough, vaccine every six to 12 months. We also recommend an annual booster for canine influenza, which is becoming more common in North America.

Is it safe to get multiple dog vaccinations at the same time?

Yes, it is safe to give multiple dog vaccines at the same time. While we can still give all vaccines at once, the recommendations have been changing over the last decade. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has vaccine guidelines which we follow. The core vaccines are given once as a puppy, then as one-year boosters, and every three years thereafter. However, leptospirosis and kennel cough vaccines are given annually. If you have a sensitive or small pet, we might split up the vaccines to be more safe.

What is titer testing?

Titer testing involves drawing blood and sending it to a lab to look for antibodies against specific diseases. However, titer results are not always reflective of protection, so it is not the standard practice to measure a dog's titers. But we're open to discussing it with pet owners who are interested.

Does my puppy need to restart boosters if they miss a vaccine?

Depending on how long they've missed their boosters, we may or may not have to restart them. The most important thing is that you bring them in to get their boosters, as we're trying to protect them from infectious diseases and illnesses. We'd love to partner with you to ensure your dog is protected against viruses and bacteria. Please talk to your veterinarian. We're here to help at Blue Oasis Pet Hospital.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Vaccinations - FAQs 3

Dr. Noël Lucas
Blue Oasis Pet Hospital

Are there any risks associated with dog vaccinations?

Yes, there are some risks associated with dog vaccinations as it is a medical procedure. However, these risks are minimal compared to the risk of infectious diseases. Vaccines are very safe, but vaccine reactions or hypersensitivities can occur in some individuals.

The most common reaction to dog vaccinations is an acute hypersensitivity response, usually occurring within the first 30 minutes after a vaccination is given. Symptoms may include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, acute vomiting or diarrhea. Other reactions may include skin hives, swelling of the face or muzzle, and delayed GI side effects like tiredness or missing a meal. These reactions are rare. Most of the time, dogs act like they have no problems at all. If they do experience reactions, they are usually mild such as aches, low-grade fever, or skin hives.

Can my dog get cancer from a vaccine?

No, there is no association between immunizations or vaccinations and cancer in dogs. However, if a dog has been diagnosed with cancer, we consider that before administering a vaccination as we may not want to overstimulate the immune system.

Is it safer to opt out of any non-core dog vaccinations?

It's safe to opt out of non-core vaccines, but it's dependent on the dog's lifestyle. We want to protect your pet against the diseases it's most at risk for. For instance, if your dog isn't social with other dogs and doesn't go to the groomer or dog park, we might opt out of giving a kennel cough vaccine. However, we won't opt out of a rabies vaccine as it's a law requirement and a fatal virus if exposed.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 975-2583 , or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram