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New Dog Vaccine Recommendations Released by AAHA

AAHA released new canine vaccination recommendations in 2017.

The American Animal Hospital Association, or AAHA, is an organization that accredits small animal hospitals according to about 900 criteria aimed at ensuring that they provide high-quality care. Hospitals are initially evaluated and accredited and then re-evaluated every three years to verify that they are following current standards of care or higher.

AAHA is a well-respected veterinary organization. They have recently released new guidelines for how dogs should be vaccinated.

Vaccination Controversies

Over recent years, vaccinations, both for people and pets, have become more of a controversial issue than they ever were before. People are concerned about potential negative side effects from vaccines, and over-vaccination is a particularly big concern.

Some canine vaccinations, most notably rabies vaccine, are mandated by local laws and ordinances. Some are not mandated by law but are recommended for all dogs. Other vaccines are recommended only for some dogs, based on geography and disease prevalence. These are called non-core vaccines.

AAHA's 2017 Vaccine Recommendation Updates

AAHA's new canine vaccination recommendations include rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus as core vaccinations recommended for all dogs. Bordetella, leptospirosis, influenza, and rattlesnake vaccines are non-core.

Rabies vaccination schedules must adhere to local laws. Some require yearly boosters while others recognize 3-year boosters after the initial 1-year vaccine.

AAHA recommends all dogs be given distemper-parvovirus-adenovirus combination vaccines beginning around 6 weeks of age and continuing every 2-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. After that, a booster should be given 1 year later and then every 3 years after that. If dogs are over 16 weeks when they begin receiving the vaccines, they should get 2 doses and then a 1-year booster before extending boosters to every 3 years.

A new addition to AAHA's recommendations on distemper-parvovirus-adenovirus vaccine recommendations is the inclusion of a note stating that antibody titer testing is a reasonable way to assess whether a dog needs a booster vaccine. This allows people to have a blood test done on their dog yearly to determine whether protective numbers of antibodies to the diseases are present. If they are, a vaccine booster is not required.

AAHA Provides a Calculator to Help Determine Necessity of Non-Core Vaccines

AAHA has developed a lifestyle-based vaccine calculator which can help people get a better idea of whether their dogs should be given one or more of the non-core vaccines. Your veterinarian will also be able to help you determine this, based on the illnesses he or she knows to present risk to dogs in your area and whether or not your dog has medical conditions that might make vaccines riskier.


  1. Vaccination Recommendations for General Practice. (2017). Retrieved from

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