Highlights From The Updated 2017 Canine Vaccination Guidelines

January 06, 2018 3 min read

2017 Updated Vaccine Guidelines for Pet Owners and A refresher on titering and vaccinosis

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recently released the 2017 vaccination guidelines for dogs. These are the guidelines used by traditional veterinarians (typically not holistic) for vaccinating dogs.

We've seen significant updates over the years and these new recommendations further support traditional veterinarians inching closer and closer to the holistic side of the house. 

Here are the highlights of changes over the years: 

Date of AAHA Guidelines  Recommendation
Guidelines Prior to 2011 The core canine vaccines (parvovirus, distemper, and adenovirus) were to be given annually
2011 Guidelines The core vaccines could be given every three years (or longer)
2017 Guidelines Distemper and parvo are recommended every five years and adenovirus every 7 years

Perhaps the most interesting thing we read in the new protocols is the following statement: 

While there is often consensus on which canine vaccines fall into core and noncore categories and when they should be administered, in practice, the vaccination protocol should always be individualized based on the patient’s risk factors, life stage, and lifestyle.For this reason, these Guidelines are not intended to represent a universal vaccination protocol applicable to all dogs. Instead, the Guidelines offer a range of recommendations that will aid practitioners in making rational decisions on vaccine selection for their individual patients.

Why is this significant?

The new guidelines recognize that your dog does not need vaccines on a rigid schedule.

The vaccine manufacturers themselves have always stipulated that only healthy dogs should be given vaccinations.  These new guidelines finally acknowledge the fact that even the manufacturers have provided this vaccine condition, though it has been widely disregarded  until now.  This gives traditional veterinarians an opportunity to consider their patients on an individual basis with regard to determining the necessity for vaccines.

Unfortunately, the guidelines also fall short and disappoint by not providing clear guidance for states to update their rabies laws.

The required rabies vaccinations guidelines vary from state to state and while some states have a specific interval, others refer to the label of the vaccine or the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control. Even more confusing, some states allow the local government to set the mandates.

Some states are beginning to provide exemptions for vaccination requirements if medically necessary as determined by a veterinarian. 

Should My Dog Be Vaccinated?

There are many factors that should be evaluated when determining whether or not your dog should be re-vaccinated (after receiving their core vaccines).

Some of these factors include the following:

  • Their risk profile to exposure of disease: 
    • Do they routinely hang out with dogs that have never received vaccinations?
    • Do they go to the dog park?
    • Do they spend a lot of time outdoors or are they mostly indoors? 
  • Has your dog ever had a reaction to a vaccine?
  • Do they have an immunocompromised system?

A homebody dog that is not around dogs with potential disease is much less at risk than a dog that is outdoors a lot and around potentially infected animals. 

The risk of over vaccination is real. It is a scary and dangerous gamble that may end in chronic disease. 

If you missed our blog posts on vaccinosis and titers, you can link to them below:

Titering your dog will give you peace of mind; but, even if your dog has low titers you may consider not vaccinating based upon their risk factor or health. 


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