What Vaccines Do Your Dogs Need?


By Julie Schrager 

It would probably surprise you that the vaccines your vet tells you your dog needs might not always be the case. Of course vaccinating your dog is important as vaccines can save your dog’s life; however, there is one vaccine in particular that you don’t need to give your dog. It is important that you know what vaccines your dog needs as many veterinarians just give them without discussing if your dog really needs them. That is why you need to be armed with the correct information to make the best decisions for your dog.

One vaccine that you do not need to give to your dog is the Leptospirosis vaccine, which is part of a booster shot for your dog called “DHLP”. The “L” stands for the leptospirosis vaccine. First, let me tell you what leptospirosis is. Dogs can catch Leptospira bacteria from water or soil that is contaminated with infected urine from rodents and other wild animals. This bacteria is mostly found in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic region. There are many problems with a Leptospirosis vaccine such as not providing effective immunization and many adverse reactions. Leptospirosis is a bacteria and not viral infection. Should the dog get end up getting Lepto, which is very rare, then a treatment of antibiotics will be necessary. Puppies especially do not need the leptospirosis vaccine. It could kill them. The side effects outweigh the benefits. Giving the lepto vaccine is like playing Russian roulette and it is simply not worth it. The side effects of the leptospirosis vaccine can include reduced energy and loss of appetite. Some dogs may get skin rashes and others can experience shock responses soon after receiving the vaccine.

There are vaccines given to your dog that last much longer than their yearly dose, which means you do not have to vaccinate your dog every year. There is a test you can use that can determine if your dog is still protected. It is called a titer test. It is an antibody test which shows if your dog is still protected from a previous vaccine. The vet simply draws blood from your dog and that’s it. You can then determine whether or not to give your dog that particular vaccine based on the test results.

Do keep in mind that the core vaccines for your dog are important to protect them. Those are:


Canine distemper


Para influenza


If you board your dog or bring your dog to a dog park, then getting a Bordetella shot should be a consideration. This can prevent your dog from getting an upper respiratory infection which is highly contagious and can pass from one dog to the next.

Remember, you are your dog’s advocate and being an informed dog owner is the best way to protect them. You have every right to tell your dog’s vet what you want and do not want for your dog.


Julie Schrager and her husband Jeff have lived in Wellington for 20 years with their son Jake along with their two mini schnauzers, Baron and Leo. Julie is the owner of Tail Waggers Dog Walking & Training and the host of her podcast Nothing But Julie.