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Non-Core Dog Vaccines

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015

What Are “Non-Core” Vaccines?

Guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) classify vaccines as core, non-core and not recommended. Non-core vaccines are those that only certain dogs should have, depending on where they live and travel, their lifestyle and whether they are likely to be exposed to unfamiliar dogs in close quarters. This article discusses non-core vaccines that are accepted by the veterinary community as being appropriate for some but not all companion dogs.

Non-Core Canine Vaccines


Older vaccines protect against 2 of the common subspecies of bacteria that cause leptospirosis. Newer vaccines protect against 4 of those subspecies. Combination vaccines against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and leptospirosis are widely available (DHPPL or DA2PPL). The DHPPL vaccine has caused adverse post-vaccination reactions in some dogs, especially in toy breeds and young puppies. Leptospirosis vaccination currently is considered optional. Many veterinarians only recommend it for dogs living or traveling in areas where leptospirosis infection is prevalent; even then, they suggest vaccinating against leptospirosis separately from the core DHPP series. Leptospirosis infection is on the rise in this country, so vaccination is becoming more common. Because the leptospirosis vaccine only provides protection for 4 to 6 months, dogs should be revaccinated twice yearly in endemic areas.

Canine Parainfluenza

Although the vaccine against parainfluenza virus is considered non-core, it is included in most of the combination “puppy series” shots. It reduces the severity of kennel cough, but doesn’t prevent it. Because the parainfluenza vaccine is only effective for up to 12 months, at-risk dogs should be vaccinated every 6 months. These include show dogs, dogs being boarded and dogs that are in close contact with lots of other dogs.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

The bordetella vaccine can help control kennel cough and other bacterial respiratory illnesses. It typically is given to show dogs and other dogs in high-density situations and provides protection for up to 6 months. The injectable bordetella vaccine is given twice; the second shot should be administered at least 1 week before possible exposure. The intranasal vaccine protects against both bordetella and parainfluenza and only needs to be given once.

Lyme Disease (Borellia Bergdorferi)

Lyme disease vaccines are recommended for dogs living in or visiting high-risk areas. The killed virus vaccine is falling out of favor and has been replaced by a newer recombinant sub-unit vaccine for dogs that might be exposed to ticks in endemic areas.

Vaccines Not Recommended For Dogs

The AAHA reports that these vaccines are not recommended for most dogs:


The coronavirus vaccine can reduce the severity of infection, but won’t prevent it. Illness from coronavirus typically only affects young puppies, is usually mild and is rarely fatal.


Giardia is a single-celled protozoan parasite of the gut that causes bloating, diarrhea, gas and rancid, foul-smelling feces that typically are soft, watery, bloody or filled with mucus. Some dogs infected with giardia never develop symptoms. Illness from giardia is usually mild and easy to treat, and the vaccine’s effectiveness is questionable. Current protocol is against using this vaccine.


Porphyromonas is the most common bacterial organism implicated in canine periodontitis, which is a serious gum and tooth root disease. A new vaccine against three species of this bacteria is under development.

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