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Required Dog Vaccination Guide in the US

Wondering about dog vaccination? Don’t worry; we at Groomit are here to help! In this article, we’re going to go through everything you need to know to ensure your pooch’s safety.

Dog Vaccination: Core and Non-Core

There are two different categories of dog vaccinations; core and non-core.

Core vaccinations are heavily recommended to protect against diseases that may be lethal, widespread, and/or transmissible to humans.

They are very safe and efficient and tend to provide protection for a long timeframe.

On the other hand, non-core vaccines protect dogs who have unique lifestyles or situations that provide an exposure risk to less prevalent but still dangerous diseases.

Non-core vaccines tend to offer less protection than core vaccines, but they still offer a good line of defense.

It’s worth noting that some non-core vaccines are not recommended due to a lack of efficiency or adverse health effects. Always speak with your vet about what vaccinations are right for your dog and the potential risks involved.

Conversely, core vaccinations are always recommended; they protect against diseases that can be lethal. So, let’s take a look!

Rabies Dog Vaccination

There are two different forms of the rabies vaccine. One gives protection for a single year, while another provides protection for three years.

Both are administered in a single dose, as early as three months of age. Your local state laws regulate the age that the vaccine is first given. From there, boosters will be required annually or every three years depending on which form of the rabies vaccine was initially given.

State laws surrounding the rabies vaccine can vary. In some states, it is a mandatory vaccination, while in others it is not a legal requirement.

Despite this, It’s heavily recommended that you vaccinate your dog against rabies, as the disease is 100% lethal with no treatment available. Prevention is your first and only line of defense.

Combination Vaccine

In addition to the rabies vaccine, veterinarians recommend vaccinating against various other dangerous diseases.

To lessen the number of injections your dog requires, veterinarians combine the vaccines into a single shot.

The combination vaccine contains protection against distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus-2, and parainfluenza.

Initial vaccinations should begin as early as six weeks of age, administered in sequential doses every 2-4 weeks. This continues until the dog is sixteen weeks old.

From there, a booster will be required a year later. Subsequent boosters should follow every three years.

Further Information

To check what non-core vaccinations may be necessary for your dog, you can use this useful calculator here, courtesy of the AAHA.

You may also view a complete guide here of all the core and non-core vaccines.

If you would like, you may also review and download the 2017 AAHA vaccination guidelines here.


Fetch, “Pet Vaccines: Schedules for Cats and Dogs

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Rabies Vaccine: What You Need to Know” 2020

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, “Vaccination Guidelines for Dogs and Cats” 2018

Ford, RB, et al, “2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines” American Animal Hospital Association, 2017

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Sofia Goya

Sofia is a Designer and has worked for many years with brands related to dogs and cats. As an animal lover, she has always had a passion for improving their lives. She loves to read and write about ideas that bring people and their pets closer together. Her very active Border Collie is a great inspiration for all the experiences an owner could have while sharing their life with such a great companion.

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4 thoughts on “Required Dog Vaccination Guide in the US”

  1. It’s good to know that some pet vaccines such as rabies are required. I’ve heard that distemper is bad so I’ll need to get vaccines for my dog as well. Since Parvovirus is a core dog vaccine, I’ll be sure to visit a veterinarian to give it to my dog.

  2. My sister has a new pet and she wants to make sure that it has complete vaccination for safety and it’s health. It was explained here that it will be best to make sure that her pet is properly vaccinated for rabies and distemper. Moreover, it’s recommended to consult experts when in need of pet vaccination.

  3. I believe that all pets should be properly vaccinated. I appreciate what you said about the Distemper vaccine. My family is getting a dog, so I’ll take it to a vet in order to get vaccinated.

  4. Thanks for pointing out that the core vaccines usually last for a year to a lifetime. I just got a puppy after my neighbor’s dogs had some babies. I need to get my new puppy vaccinations, so I’ll be sure to find a vaccination that can help out with the important ones that my puppy needs to get.

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