Vaccines 101: What We Require and Why

Being a great dog owner comes with many responsibilities. The most important one is managing your dog’s health, including their vaccinations and immunizations.

At Metro Dog, we require all dog’s have a few specific vaccines. So you may be frustrated because now you have to make another vet appointment and trick your dog, again into thinking it’s just another trip to the dog park. But it’s for a good cause: the individual health and safety of your dog, and that of the pack around them.

Not every day care and boarding center requires the same thing. In fact there is no law, requiring any care facility to require pets be vaccinated for anything other than Rabies. And believe us, it’s not our favorite part of the job either. Requiring four different vaccines means we have to track and enter four different expiration dates for every dog in our programs. Let’s see… 4 x all the dogs in our care = a lot of data entry! But it’s all for the health and safety of the dogs.

What We Require at Metro Dog

  • Rabies

  • Bordetella

  • Canine Influenza (CIV)

  • DHPP

…and Why

Do I have to say it again? For the health and safety of the dogs!

Probably the most well known virus. It is easily transmittable from an infected wild animal to your dog (and finally to you). Dog’s are responsible for 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. Luckily only about 40,000 people need emergency prevention treatment for rabies exposure. The most common animals that transmit rabies to your dog are: raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. These animals (especially raccoons and skunks) hunt or scavenge near people and dogs. Be alert. Be prepared. Be immunized.

It’s a quick shot that any vet’s office can provide for a reasonable fee. Get it annually or every three years. Puppies have a recommended timeline for their shots, just like human children. Read more about that schedule here.

I always think this sounds like some kind of yummy cured meat… but that’s Mortadella. Bummer.

Bordetella is a bacterium commonly associated with respiratory disease in dogs. (It can also infect cats, rabbits, and in rare cases humans). It is one of the more common bacterial causes of Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). However, kennel cough is an all-encompassing term used to depict a multitude of highly contagious respiratory illness. It is usually spread in areas where large numbers of dogs are confined, like kennels, which is how the disease got its name. If your dog goes to dog parks, boarding facilities, day care, attends training classes, or dog shows, then they are at risk for contracting kennel cough.

However, Bordetella is not kennel cough. It is just the most common cause of kennel cough. Which means that even vaccinated dogs can get kennel cough from another source, even if your dogs has had the Bordetella vaccine.

Because of that, owners should be able to recognize symptoms in their dog: loud, unmistakable honking cough. Other symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and a low fever. These symptoms are also similar to those dogs infected with Canine Influenza virus (see below). Call your veterinarian first and explain the symptoms to help your veterinarian prevent the possible spread of kennel cough and CIV.

Canine Influenza (CIV)


Awwww dog flu. Gesundheit!

Don't worry! This isn't bird flu all over again. The CDC says there is no evidence of the spread of canine influenza viruses from dogs to people and there has not been a single reported case of human infection.

It’s not super dangerous to dogs either. Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no signs of illness). However it is bad when a severe illness leads to an infection or pneumonia. So (like with people) younger and older dogs, or dogs with a bad immune system are most at risk. Also like with people, it is spread by the cough or sneeze of an infected dog, or through contact with contaminated surfaces.

If your dog is coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease, do not expose that dog to other dogs or cats. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.


This is an acronym for four of the most common/core canine vaccines: Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. Puppies will be given this core vaccine at state approved schedules. Then a booster is needed about every three years for the rest of the dogs life.

  • Distemper: A highly contagious virus with no cure that spreads through the air or by contact with an infected animal. The virus typically starts in the tonsils and lymph nodes and then attacks the respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. The early symptoms will include red eyes, a discharge from the nose and eyes, and a high fever. It will eventually attack the brain and spinal cord, which can cause seizures, paralysis, and death.

  • Adenovirus: Begins as an upper respiratory infection and then moves to the functional parts of various organs, traveling from the tonsils into the bloodstream, eventually settling in the liver, kidney, or other organs. Symptoms here can range from lethargy and loss of appetite to bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, and more. Healthy dogs should be able to get rid of the virus in a couple weeks, but it will stay in the kidneys for up to nine months. If they can’t get rid of the virus on their own, they will develop chronic hepatitis.

  • Parainfluenza: Often mistaken for kennel cough, Parainfluenza symptoms include fever, runny eyes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Whereas kennel cough is mainly just respiratory symptoms. This virus is easily spread and is difficult for dogs to get rid of once they have it. Infected dogs are also at risk for developing pneumonia.

  • Parvovirus: Attacks the gastrointestinal systems and/or cardiac muscles. The gastrointestinal system is more common, with symptoms ranging from diarrhea and vomiting, to poor appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. When it becomes more serious, Parvovirus will affect the cardiac muscles of young puppies and can even cause death.

ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VET FOR ANY MEDICAL TREATMENT. Get the core vaccines and immunizations on the recommended schedules and your dog (and their friends) should be right as rain!

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