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Veterinary Viewpoints: Vaccinations all puppies need

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Media Contact: Kaylie Wehr | Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations | 405-744-6740 |

Adding a puppy to your family is a big step and a huge commitment for the lifetime of this new pet. 

Choosing their name and buying supplies is fun and easy, but new pet owners may not understand the preventative vaccinations that are essential to protect your puppy from contagious, potentially deadly diseases. 

For a lifetime of good health, it is important that puppy parents work with their primary care veterinary team to provide wellness care and preventative medicine, including vaccinations, to keep their puppy healthy and happy!

Core and non-core vaccinations

Vaccinations for dogs are divided into two groups: core and non-core. Core vaccinations are those that protect against diseases that are highly infectious and/or pose a risk of severe disease, occur regularly within the community, pose a threat to public health or are required by law. Non-core vaccinations are immunizations considered based on a dog's lifestyle and disease exposure risk.

Core vaccinations

Canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and rabies vaccinations are considered core as these diseases are contagious and potentially deadly. Core vaccinations should be administered to all puppies unless there is a significant health issue that precludes this intervention such as an immunologic deficiency or disease. It is essential that all puppies receive a complete vaccination series early in life to reduce their risk of becoming ill from a preventative disease. 

Non-core vaccinations

Leptospirosis and Bordatella are considered to be non-core vaccinations. Discussion with your primary care veterinarian will help to determine if these vaccinations are necessary for your puppy. Understanding the benefits of each vaccination regarding your pet’s lifestyle and exposure risk is essential.  

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira and is spread through the urine of affected animals and wildlife, such as raccoons and skunks. Bacterial contact can occur from exposure to contaminated water, soil, food or bedding, consuming carcasses or tissues of an infected animal, receiving a bite from an infected animal or from breeding, as this disease can be passed from dam to puppies. In addition to affecting dogs, leptospirosis infection can also be spread to humans, a public health threat for sure! This bacterium can cause severe liver and kidney disease as well as fetal death. Ask your primary care veterinarian regarding the benefits of this vaccination for your puppy. 

Bordatella is a bacterium that causes upper respiratory tract infections and one of the most common bacterial causes of “kennel cough.” Dogs who are at risk for infection include those who have exposure to other dogs (i.e. dog park) and those who are groomed, boarded or attending events such as dog shows or obedience school. Speak to your veterinarian to make sure your puppy is protected, especially if their exposure risk is set to change (i.e. you are planning to board them for the first time). 

Your puppy’s preventative health care is essential for a healthy life and best accomplished by developing a relationship with your primary care veterinarian who has examined your pet and determined their disease risk level. Discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with your veterinarian so you can be confident about making an informed decision for the health of your puppy. 

The Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has a Primary Care Veterinary Team who are eager to care for any new additions to your family. Our Primary Care Team offers preventative medicine, vaccinations, and infectious disease testing for the lifetime care of your pet. Please call 405-744-7000 to schedule an appointment.

About the author: Dr. Lara A. Sypniewski is the Henthorne Clinical Professor of Small Animal Medicine and a clinical professor in small animal primary care at the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Sypniewski is a 1998 graduate of Purdue University, a Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (canine/feline), a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist and a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner.

Veterinary Viewpoints is provided by the faculty of the OSU Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Certified by the American Animal Hospital Association, the hospital is open to the public providing routine and specialized care for all species, as well as emergency care. Call 405-744-7000 for an appointment or see more information at

OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine is one of 33 accredited veterinary colleges in the United States and the only veterinary college in Oklahoma. Established in 1948, the CVM is dedicated to the education and development of skilled veterinarians who are committed to the protection of human and animal health.

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