Ultimate Dog Vaccination schedule Canada. Easy step-by-step puppy vaccination
Dog Vaccination / Puppy or Dog Vaccines: Explaining Core Dog Vaccines
For new dog owners, we understand that having a new dog or puppy is overwhelming. As such, we will try to simplify dog vaccination schedules/ puppy vaccines in this blog. Here are a few things to keep in mind for vaccines for puppies or dogs: all the research on dog vaccination quoted here is from Dr Schultz.
Dr Ronald Schultz has spent decades researching the minimum duration of immunity after a dog has been vaccinated. Based on his work, the American Vet Medical Association changed dog vaccination schedules in 2011 although he proposed this in 1978.
Which dog/puppy vaccines are absolutely necessary?
Essential dog vaccines or the ones described as absolutely necessary are described as core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are on a case-by-case basis when you talk to your vet.
- Core Vaccines are for Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV- 2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) and Rabies. These are highly contagious viral diseases with some being fatal.
- Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV- 2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2) are spread directly through contaminated feces, urine or indirectly through the air.
- Rabies is primarily spread to dogs through a bite.
- Non-Core Vaccines are for things like Bordetella (kennel cough), Parainfluenza, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease etc. These are typically bacterial based diseases.
- Even with your dog vaccinated for Bordetella, it may still get kennel cough from a wide variety of bacteria and virus. We’ve got a blog on how to resolve kennel cough.
- Leptospirosis for dogs can be transferred to humans (zoonotic) and can be picked up from bacteria in water, contaminated soil affected by urine.
- Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks.
- Non-core vaccines provide only short-term immunity and are sometimes ineffective against an evolved strain of bacteria. Getting non-core vaccines is a judgment call based on a conversation with your vet.
Do I legally have to vaccinate my dog in Canada?
For a new puppy, it is essential to vaccinate your dog. Vaccination after your puppy’s maternal antibodies wear out is critical to preventing the spread of disease to dog and humans.
However, with the exception of rabies in a few Canadian provinces, there is no legal requirement to vaccinate your dog.
Since 2019, the US no longer requires rabies certification for dogs coming from low- or no-known risk countries such as Canada. “Dogs coming from a low-risk or no-known rabies risk (free of dog rabies) are NOT required to have a rabies vaccination certificate to enter the United States. However, when you enter the United States, you must provide written or oral statements that the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.”
Despite there being no legal requirement other than for rabies, there is still though a health and moral reason to vaccinate your puppy.
Should I get my dog vaccinated every year?
The frequency of dog vaccinations is important. There is always the likelihood that there are adverse effects when your puppy or dog gets vaccinated.
In actuality, according to Dr. Ron Schultz annual vaccination “provides no demonstrable benefit and may increase the risk of adverse reactions.”
What are the potential adverse effects of annual/ over vaccination?
Vaccines can cause adverse reactions in dogs from hair loss, lethargy, allergies, to seizures and chronic issues in some cases. Our dog, Shinji developed food sensitivities as well environmental allergies due to vaccinations when we didn’t know better.
Here is the direct quote on adverse reactions from Dr. Schultz’s website
“While there may be immediate hypersensitivity reactions, other acute events tend to occur 24-72 hours afterwards, or up to 45 days later in the case of delayed reactions.”
What does a natural / holistic approach to dog vaccinations look like?
Here is a potential approach based on a holistic vet’s input.
- Do not start a puppy on core vaccination before 6 to 8 weeks of age.
- The reason is that puppies still have maternal antibodies, which are compromised by pet vaccinations at that early age.
- During the 1st year of vaccinations, consider the next set of vaccination no more frequently than every 4 weeks.
- After the 2nd round of core vaccines, you could titer test (measures antibodies) to see if you need a third round of core vaccines.
- It may not be necessary to have a third round if the titer shows ‘strong’ titer .
- According to holistic vets, consider giving the Rabies vaccine to dogs after 6 months of age and then depending on the law every 3 years.
- Do not bundle non-core vaccines with the core vaccines as this may be taxing on your dog’s system.
A puppy vaccination schedule from a vet & cost of dog vaccines in Canada could look like:
- 9-10 weeks old – 1st round of Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvovirus (CPV- 2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2)
- At least 4 weeks after – 2nd round of Canine Distemper (CDV), Canine Parvo (CPV- 2), Canine Adenovirus (CAV-2)
- Another 4 weeks to 3rd round of shots or for some who want to titer, wait only 2 weeks after 2nd round of vaccinations to check if the dog is immunized.
- The titer cost would be about $70 for all of them. However, you probably could get a package of shots including Bordetella, Leptospirosis and vet exams for about $125.
- Typically, we’ve seen DAPPV shot, a combination vaccine for distemper virus, adenovirus type 1 and 2, canine parainfluenza virus and canine parvovirus cost between $40 and $55.
- Note that for puppies, traditionally vets would recommend 3 visits.
- So what if you did the titer testing instead on the 3rd visit just to find out that you need the shot anyway. That is a question that pet owners would have to wrestle with.
- Bordetella shot or the nasal vaccine can range from $25 to $35. Add on tech exam fees and the Lepto Vaccine and you are looking at around $125 per visit.
- A Lyme vaccine would be about $30.
- On a side note, fecal tests and blood tests are a good idea during vet checkups and those are about $200 including the vet fees.
- > 6 months old – According to our vet, talk to your vet about having the rabies shot done after your pup is older than 6 months. And then every 3 years depending on which Canadian province you live in. Alternatively you can have titer tests done. Ontario requires the rabies vaccine.
How long are dog vaccines effective?
Here is a snapshot of Dr. Schultz’s research results. Here are a few things to keep in mind to understand this chart:
- A Challenge study in assessing vaccines refers to exposing/injecting the animal to the actual disease and observing whether they develop the disease.
- Serology study refers to measuring antibody production in the blood in response to a disease.
- Note that these results do not mean that all vaccinated dogs will be immune for the period of time listed. These are just benchmarks meaning that a dog can be immune for shorter, equal or longer times.
- In the case of challenge study, it meant that 97% of dogs were immune to the disease after the listed time period.
What to discuss with your vet about annual dog vaccinations.
We used to receive letters from our vet about Shinji getting annual vaccinations. Thankfully, the letter stated that you could either get the shots for Parvovirus in dogs, Distemper, Adenovirus or have him checked by alternative means.
A vet we spoke to, suggested talking to your vet to get the rabies shots done every 3 years or alternatively having titer tests.
- Rabies titers are expensive with a vet quoting $250. Compared to the rabies vaccination cost, the titer cost is twice the amount. Note that both prices include vet consultation fees.
Rabies statistics in Canada (updated)
We’ve been keeping track of rabies cases in animals including dogs and cats across Canada since 2015. Here are a few trends we see holding true based on data from Canada Food Inspection Agency.
- From 2015 to 2021, bats were the primary animal affected by rabies and the potential carrier for rabies in Canada.
- The trend for British Columbia still seems to be holding the same with rabies cases highest in bats. Please make sure you report any bat bites or scratches to your animal or yourself if you go camping or hiking. Unfortunately, a man was bitten on Vancouver Island and passed away. This is a serious disease so please don’t take any chances after you come into physical contact with a bat in Canada.
- For the other provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec seem to be the only provinces that have dogs contract rabies every year.
- Manitoba also tends to record cat rabies while other provinces do not seem to have rabies transmitted to household pets.
What next after your dog has its immunization shots?
- Monitor your dog for immediate noticeable vaccine reactions.
- Talk to your vet immediately if you notice anything.
- We’d suggest Thuja occidentalis recommended for anti-vaccinosis. Ask your holistic vet about thuja. Adored Beast Anti-Vaccinosis is another product you can try for this issue.
Please comment to let us know what you think about this guide? Is there something you would have liked us to include in this guide? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
can you define the term “challenge” used in table 1? Thank you!
Hi Maggi, challenge would mean testing the virus on an immunized animal (cat or dog) to see if the antibodies from prior immunization block the replication of the virus. Serology would mean measuring blood antibody levels.
Is the rabies vaccine legally required in BC?
It is not legally required in BC. It is in Ontario and if you are crossing the border into the USA, you’ll be required to certify that your pet has been vaccinated for rabies.
Also many dog groomers here in BC request proof of rabies shots before they will take your dog.
Rabies vaccine has not been required for dogs entering the USA from Canada since Jan. 2019. CDC has updated requirements on their website.
That is great! We went to check and dogs coming from Canada no longer need rabies certification. Just an oral statement that “the dogs lived in a country with low or no risk for at least 6 months or since birth.” Thank you for the update.
How long should you wait until you introduce your puppy to other dogs? After first vaccine or later?
Hi Artur, we’d recommend that you introduce your dog after the 2nd set of shots. This is because you would typically titer to see if the dog has antibodies after the 2nd set of shots. This approach is a balance between being prudent about your dog’s health and ensuring that your dog is socialized and you don’t have behavioural problems.