ISSN 2398-2942      

Vaccination protocols



  • Vaccination is an essential part of a healthcare program for domestic pets. The ideal strategy maximizes beneficial effects of vaccination while minimizing risks. This means ensuring each individual animal receives only the most appropriate vaccines, and that these vaccines are effective.
  • The immunogenicity of vaccines can be compromised by poor storage or inappropriate administration. In order to maintain efficacy vaccines must be stored in appropriate conditions:
    • 2-8°C.
    • Do not freeze.
    • Protect from light.
    • Avoid prolonged or repetitive exposure to high ambient temperatures.
  • The potency of many vaccines can be reduced by exposure to high temperatures for just a few hours.
    All vaccines should be stored in the refrigerator until used.
  • Once reconstituted (converted from dry to liquid form), vaccines should be used within 1 hour or should be discarded.
  • The technique of vaccination is also important, eg the skin should not be cleaned with disinfectants or spirit before injection. 
    Contact with disinfectant agents can render the vaccine inefficacious.
  • Correct route of vaccine administration is also important. Most vaccines are designed for subcutaneous administration and are ineffective if given by other routes.
  • Only administer vaccine by the route(s) recommended by the manufacturer. Some agents given by the incorrect route may cause clinical disease, eg intranasal Bordetella bronchipseptica vaccine administered subcutaneously may lead to serious local inflammation.
  • Several types of vaccines are available for protecting dogs against various bacteria and viruses that cause infectious respiratory disease. Intranasal vaccines are available that provide rapid onset of immunity against both bacteria (Bordetella bronchiseptica) and viruses, such as canine parainfluenza virus and canine adenovirus-2. Whether such a vaccine is used, and the specific product used, should be determined by the risk of exposure for the individiual pet. An oral vaccine against Bordetella bronchiseptica is available in the USA.
  • The immune competence of the individual receiving vaccination is important in ensuring efficacy. This can be affected by poor health/nutrition, concurrent drug therapy (eg immunosuppressive agents) and stress.
  • For all vaccinations there are a number of important considerations to maximize vaccine efficacy while reducing the risk of adverse effects:
    • Vaccinate healthy animals only, ie not those with fever.
    • Avoid vaccinating pregnant animals (unless the produce is specifically tested in pregnant animals and licensed for such use).
  • In any population of animals, even with the strictest attention to correct administration, a small number of individuals may fail to respond to any vaccine. This is often genetically determined and such individuals are characterized as either 'low responders' or 'non-responders' to that particular antigenic component.

Protocol factors

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Vaccines by indication

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ford R B, Larson L  J, McClure K D et al (2017) 2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines. JAAHA 53 (5), 243-251 PubMed.
  • Day M J, Horzinek M C, Schultz R D et al (2016) WSAVA Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats. JSAP 57 (1), E1-E45 PubMed.
  • Lee H S, Guptill L, Johnson A J et al (2014) Signalment changes in canine leptospirosis between 1970 and 2009. J Vet Intern Med 28 (2), 294-299 PubMed.
  • Larson L J, Thiel B E, Sharp P et al (2013) A comparative study of protective immunity provided by oral, intranasal and parenteral canine Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines. Internatl J Appl Res Vet Med 11 (3), 153-160 VetMedResource.
  • Schultz R D, Thiel B, Mukhtar E et al (2010) Age and long-term protective immunity in dogs and cats. J Comp Pathol 142 (Suppl 1), S102-108 PubMed.
  • Frana T S, Clough N E, Gatewood D M et al (2008) Postmarketing surveillance of rabies vaccines for dogs to evaluate safety and efficacy.  J Am Vet Med Assoc 232 (7), 1000-1002 PubMed.
  • Larson L J, Schultz R D (2008) Do two current canine parvovirus type 2 and 2b vaccines provide protection against the new type 2c variant? Vet Ther (2), 94-101 PubMed.
  • Lehar C, Jayappa H, Erskine J et al (2008) Demonstration of 1-year duration of immunity for attenuated Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines in dogs. Vet Ther (4), 257-262 PubMed.
  • Davis R, Jayappa H, Abdelmagid O Y et al (2007) Comparison of the mucosal immune response in dogs vaccinated with either an intranasal avirulent live culture or a subcutaneous antigen extract vaccine of Bordetella bronchiseptica. Vet Ther (1), 32-40 PubMed.
  • Schultz R D (2006) Duration of immunity for canine and feline vaccines: a review. Vet Microbiol 117 (1), 75-79 PubMed.
  • Jacobs A A, Theelen R P, Jaspers R et al (2005) Protection of dogs for 13 months against Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus with a modified live vacccine. Vet Rec 157 (1), 19-23 PubMed.
  • Moore G E, Guptill L F, Ward M P et al (2005) Adverse events diagnosed within three days of vaccine administration in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 227 (7), 1102-1108 PubMed.
  • Böhm M, Thompson H, Weir A et al (2004) Serum antibody titres to canine parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper virus in dogs in the UK which had not been vaccinated for at least three years. Vet Rec 154 (15), 457-463 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Day M J (2017) Small animal vaccination: a practical guide for vets in the UK. In Practice 39, 110-118.
  • Ford R B (2013) Antibody titers vs. vaccination. Today's Vet Pract 3, 35-38.
  • Ford R B (2012) Canine vaccination guidelines: Key points for veterinary practice. Today's Vet Pract 2, 20-26.
  • Ford R B (2012) Dogs & cats overdue for vaccination. Recommendations for updating immunizations. Today's Vet Pract 2, 26-32.
  • Ford R B (2012) Canine infectious respiratory disease. Ch 6 in CE Greene (ed): Infectious diseases of the Dog and Cat. 4th Ed. Elsevier-Saunders, St. Louis. pp 55-65.
  • Greene C E & Levy J K (2012) Immunoprophylaxis. In: Greene C E (ed) Infectious diseases of the Dog and Cat. 4th edn. St Louis: Saunders-Elsevier. pp 1163-1205
  • Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2011. National Association of State Public Health VeterinariansInc. MMWR 60 (6), 1-20.
  • Ford R B (2009) Bordetella bronchiseptica: beyond "kennel cough." In: Bonagura J, Twedt DC, eds. Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XIV. St. Louis: Saunders-Elsevier, pp 647-650.
  • Crawford C, Spindel M (2009) Canine influenza. In: Miller L, Hurley K, eds. Infectious Disease Management in Animal Shelters.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. pp173-180.

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