What Vaccines Do Dogs Need Annually

As a responsible dog owner, you know that it’s up to you to provide the best care your dogs deserve. That includes core vaccines that keep your dog protected from infections and serious diseases.  However, with the number of vaccines and doubts around them, it’s only natural that you’re asking yourself “what vaccines do dogs need annually?”.

Naturally, the best way you can keep your dog’s vaccinations on schedule is to follow my instructions. That being said, I am here to provide you with an answer to that perplexing question. 

What Vaccines Do Dogs Need Annually?

Primary vaccination is important if you want to prevent your dog from getting common deadly puppy diseases. According to Dr. Rania Gollakner, BS DVM, recent research has indicated that not all vaccines require yearly boosters.

Dog looking up while sitting down on the floor

There are two different vaccines that I will suggest. These are core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core pet vaccines are the standard recommended annual vaccines for pets and commonly administered at an early age with a second shot after a year. In addition to the core vaccinations, I recommend: Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira bacteria vaccinations.

Non-core vaccinations are administered depending on your dog’s immune system, overall health, and lifestyle. Non-core vaccinations as well as core vaccinations can be given to your dog as early as 6 weeks old. We can always talk about what non-core and core vaccinations does your dog need and set-up a dog’s vaccination schedule that’s convenient for you. Here are some of the common core dog vaccines that I would recommend.

Core Dog Vaccines

Core vaccinations are what vets would usually recommend to your dogs because they’re essential to protect your dogs from life-threatening diseases and pain-causing diseases. There are four core vaccines for dogs: canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Because they stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies, they can cause mild symptoms. Yet, most dogs with mild symptoms or side effects have nothing to worry about.

Rabies 1-year

You can start to administer your dog one dose of the rabies vaccine as early as 3 months of age during your first visit. Most states regulate the age at which you need to first administer them. This is a core dog vaccine and they’ll need to get boosters annually. Rabies is fatal to dogs and there are no treatments available for it. That’s why getting your dog vaccinated helps prevent it. 

Rabies 3-year 

While Rabies 3-year is the same as the above, it differs in terms of schedule for vaccination. I will recommend a second vaccination after one year. After that, instead of getting boosters annually, you only have to do it every three years. 


Distemper is also a core dog vaccine. You need at least 3 doses given between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Puppies a booster one year after completing the initial series. After that, an adult dog needs to get a booster every three years. This will protect your dog against an airborne virus that causes Distemper, a real disease that may cause permanent brain damage. 

Dog being given water after his yearly vaccine at a veterinary hospital


You need at least 3 doses between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Puppies require a booster 1 year after completing the initial series. After that, your dog would need a booster every 3 years. Canine “parvo” is contagious and can cause severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. If left untreated, it can prove fatal to your dog. 

Adenovirus, type 1

You also need 3 doses between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Puppy vaccinations need a booster 1 year after you complete the initial series and then you’ll need a booster every three years. Adenovirus, type 1 can spread via infected urine and feces and can lead to severe liver damage and death.

Adenovirus, type 2 

You also need 3 doses between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Puppies need a booster 1 year after you complete the initial series. You’ll also need a booster every 3 years. This virus can spread via coughs and sneezes. 

Do Dogs Need to be Vaccinated Every Year?

There’s no evidence that annual booster vaccination isn’t beneficial to the majority of adult dogs. In fact, abstaining from some boosters can put your dog at risk. If you want to make sure boosters are necessary for your dog, you need to do a series of blood tests such as a titer test to study your dog’s immune system and measure the number of antibodies in your dog.

These tests are usually more expensive and revaccination is more of a suitable choice. Tests like the titer tes may be stressful for your dog. Government regulatory bodies and organizations like the American Animal Hospital Association have strict guidelines for vaccines. Manufacturers must prove that their vaccines are safe and effective before they release them on the market and make them usable for your dog.  

At What Age Do You Stop Vaccinating Your Dog?

Adult dogs older than seven years of age are classified as senior pets. Senior dogs are in the stage of life where the aging process is starting to affect every organ system. Some organs wear out faster and slow down over time so it’s important that you keep track of your dog’s condition.

Keep your vaccinations current. Consult with me to determine the proper vaccine schedule that is appropriate for your senior dog’s lifestyle. Commonly, adult dogs will get most vaccinations every three years. 

Sleepy dog slumped on the floor

Some vaccines have a shorter duration of immunity. Some examples are leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and kennel cough. Your dog may receive vaccines for these diseases more often, usually every six to twelve months. 

What Happens if Your Dog is Not Vaccinated?

Your dog may have a higher chance of getting diseases that can be fatal to your dog if left untreated. There are a number of studies that show vaccines are effective at protecting adult dogs that are purposefully exposed to diseases in a controlled situation.

The wider the community your dog is in, the higher the risk of your pet getting exposed to unwanted sickness. A study in Poland in 2002 shows that vaccinated dogs have a lower chance of getting Distemper compared to unvaccinated dogs. 66% of the infected dogs have never been vaccinated while 22% of the infected dogs were vaccinated at some point.

Nowadays, the government requires certain vaccinations for your dogs. One example of this is rabies. Rabies is not only harmful to your pets but also to humans. This is why most places around the world require pets to have rabies vaccines to reduce the risk of rabies infection in humans. 


Vaccines for your dog increase its protection against harmful diseases and reduce the risks of contracting one. It’s important for you to talk with me and discuss what vaccines are needed for your dog’s health and lifestyle. 

Veterinarians administer some vaccines annually, some every 3 years, and others every 6 months. Getting your dog vaccinated may help keep your dog away from potentially deadly diseases. 

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Doctor Joe Alcorn received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1981, and founded Care Animal Hospital in 1991 in Temecula, California. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.