Immunizing your pet is an important procedure that in most cases will provide protection against an illness that may be life threatening.

healthy black and white puppy

Puppyhood Vaccination is Important

The series of inoculations given in puppyhood are designed to protect your puppy as its immune system is developing, and the protection provided by the mother dog is disappearing.  The series ends at about 4 months of age.  The puppyhood vaccination series are the most important immunizations your puppy will receive, so they must not be taken lightly.

Later on, when your pet is an adult, we will adjust the immunization schedule to adjust for your pet’s potential exposure.  Many pets are protected for three years or longer when vaccinated correctly as a puppy and young adult.

In keeping with the lifestyle assessment of the dog as an adult, veterinarians have developed a list of which vaccines are considered “core” and “non-core,” or “essential” and “optional depending on lifestyle and/or exposure possibilities.” All pets should receive core vaccinations with boosters at appropriate intervals to be determined by exposure risk related to your pet’s life style. Non-core vaccinations should not be used routinely and are only administered if your pet’s exposure risk warrants it.

Although most pets do not react adversely to a vaccination, some have had allergic or other systemic reactions after receiving a vaccine. Occasionally the allergic reaction can be so profound that it may be life threatening.  Certain immune mediated diseases such as hemolytic anemia (anemia caused by red blood cell destruction), thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet numbers), and polyarthritis (joint inflammation and pain) in dogs may be triggered by the body’s immune response to a vaccine.

The “Core” vaccinations for dogs include the following:    


Distemper is a viral disease of dogs that carries a 90% fatality rate.  The virus often starts in the upper respiratory tract with a very plentiful runny and snotty nose.  The puppy is feverish and unwilling to eat and becomes dehydrated very rapidly.  The puppy may have diarrhea.  Over time the virus will get into the central nervous system and cause a type of seizure that is very classic for distempervirus.  The seizures are not controllable with medication and oftentimes it is at this point that the puppy either dies, or is humanely euthanized due to the grave prognosis.                             

Hepatitis (Adenovirus variants 1 and 2)   

Actually Canine Adenovirus 1 causes liver disease, eye inflammation (uveitis) and kidney disease in dog.  Vaccination with the CAV 1 virus has led to adverse reactions.  Therefore, we vaccinate against Canine Infectious Hepatitis using the CAV 2 virus, a variant which actually causes upper respiratory disease.  The immunity stimulated by the CAV-2 variant is protective against CAV-1 and the dog does not develop hepatitis.             

Parvovirus enteritis

“Parvo” is a virus that is very hardy and lives in the environment for lengthy periods of time. It can be shed in the feces of a healthy-appearing dog or coyote for 3 days before the healthy-appearing dog (or coyote) becomes ill.  The first symptom in a puppy is often times vomiting and lethargy, followed by a malodorous watery bloody diarrhea.  An in-house test can be done to determine if the puppy indeed has parvo-virus diarrhea.  The virus affects rapidly multiplying cells, such as the intestinal cells and white blood cells.  These cells are all killed off and the puppy must be kept alive, through intravenous fluids, feedings, antibiotics, and sometimes serum and plasma transfusions, and medications to increase the white blood cell count.  The average duration of hospitalization lasts 4-7 days.  Rottweilers are especially prone to this virus.  The fatality rate is very high.                       


Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal to the dog or cat.  In Southern California, the bat is responsibleThe virus moves rapidly into the central nervous system, where it can hide, or become manifest by a paralysis of the swallowing muscles.  The usual manifestation is a personality change and marked aggression, exposing humans to bite injuries.   There is no cure for Rabies in animals.

Humans exposed to rabies undergo a series of injections designed at improving their immunity so that their body’s immune system can fight off the virus. Traditionally there has been no cure for Rabies, although one human patient in the US was saved in a new experimental protocol. 


Happy Healthy Adult Viszla

Happy Healthy Adult Viszla


The number of deaths in Africa and India exceed 50,000 per year and it is only by aggressive vaccination protocols in pets, and in some cases, using baits to inoculate wildlife, that the developed countries do not have this level of human mortality. Make no mistake about it, Rabies is a horrible horrible way to die. 

We use Merck’s “Continuum” Rabies vaccine.  Not only do we think this is one of the best vaccinations available to provide to our clients and their pets, we get the added humanitarian benefit, because a dose of vaccine is donated to vaccinate pet in Africa.  To learn more about this wonderful, life-saving program, please visit www.afya.org  to see how this humanitarian effort has resulted in a 92% reduction in the cases of Rabies in the Serengeti.

In Southern California, the bat is responsible for the transmission of Rabies, and in 2012 there has been an observable increase in the number of Rabid bats diagnosed by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.  At this time, we do not have any mammalian Rabies in Los Angeles County, and we would like it to stay that way  Want to learn more about the incidence of Rabies, and other animal transmitted diseases, in Los Angeles County? You can visit the Los Angeles Department of Public Heath website at    http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/rabiesmap2012.htm


 Non-core vaccinations for dogs 

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious “cold” and “bronchitis” characterized by a harsh persistent cough.  It spreads rapidly from one dog to the next and is why grooming parlors and boarding facilities require a current immunization.  The immunity generated by any of the currently available vaccines is not very strong and in some cases only lasts for about 6 months.  Therefore, in a dog that is boarded or groomed frequently, the owner may be asked to update the vaccine every 6 months.                


This is a bacteria that affects the liver and kidneys of the pet; leading to an infection of those organs and impairment of the organs.  It is transmitted through the urine of raccoons and/or mice.  We have seen only 1 proven case of Leptospirosis here in Sherman Oaks.  Due to the proximity of wildlife within our yards, we consider this as a possibility in cases presenting symptoms that COULD be Leptospirosis, but right now, we do not feel it is appropriate to move this agent into the “core” category.                               

Lyme  Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is transmitted through the saliva of a tick when the tick bites the dog.  The disease affects the joints, causing an inflammatory arthritis.    This is an important vaccination for pets living on the East Coast, but its importance here in Sherman Oaks, California, has yet to be proven.  Consequently, we, at Beverly Oaks Animal Hospital and Emergency Animal Clinic, believe this to be a non-core vaccine.                   

Corona Virus

Corona virus is a viral diarrhea similar to parvo, but not as deadly. Puppies with corona virus diarrhea will often be hospitalized for care, but for not as long as those with parvo, and puppies with corona virus are less likely to die from the condition.

Canine Influenza Vaccine

Canine influenza virus (CIV) causes a respiratory infection in dogs that is often referred to as canine influenza. CIV is a relatively new virus, so almost all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop CIV infection have a mild illness, but some dogs get very sick and require treatment.

There is an effective and safe vaccine for canine influenza fully licensed by the USDA. Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8 has been shown to control the spread and minimize the impact of CIV infection and has been proven safe in half a million dogs.

At Beverly Oaks, we have seen only 3-4 cases of Canine Influenza to date.  This is not such a high number of cases that we think it important to vaccinate against this agent. Nonetheless, if you are traveling with your pet, or boarding your pet at a large facility where pets from many different geographical locations may be boarded (such as at a boarding facility near an airport), you may wish to vaccinate your pet against Canine Influenza.

Rattlesnake Vaccine

Rattlesnakes emerge in the spring and dogs that hike in the canyons, or live in areas that have access to wild brush or undeveloped scrub along one of the property borders, are most at risk for rattlesnake bites. AA new vaccine developed in California has come on the market that is reported to provide a degree of immunity to the toxic components of rattlesnake venom. Adverse reactions appear to be low and consistent with the reactions that occur with other vaccinations which include systemic allergic reactions, some of which may be life threatening. The USDA product license is currently conditional as efficacy and potency have not been fully demonstrated. The experience of dogs that have been vaccinated and then bitten is that, though the animals still receive veterinary care, they do not require the expensive antivenin to be administered. In addition, the severe swelling and sloughing of the skin that usually happens at the site of the bite does not occur. With minimal treatment the mild swelling that did occur was gone in three days.

Snake training is available that teaches dogs to avoid confrontation with a rattlesnake and this training has no doubt saved many dogs from a painful and sometimes deadly bite. Not all dogs will avoid snakes, even after a training course, and invariably are bitten, requiring immediate veterinary assistance.

Dogs receiving the vaccine should be given two doses the first year with annual boosters administered in the Spring. If it has been longer than six months since the annual booster, the dog should receive an additional vaccination before risking exposure. Owners with dogs that have received the vaccine should still seek treatment by a veterinarian if their dogs are bitten. For additional information visit the vaccine manufacturer’s website, http://www.redrockbiologics.com

To determine your dog’s lifestyle-based vaccine needs:

Please check all of the statements that apply, or you think will probably apply, to your pet.

 __  primarily indoors        __  indoors-outdoors          __ visits a boarding kennel frequently.

__  always outdoors              __  Is groomed frequently

 __   Goes to the dog park or canyon hiking areas where other dogs may be running off-leash

 __ (Has)   __(Has not) had a reaction to previous vaccinations

 __ Has exposure to wildlife (raccoons, opossums, skunks, snakes, etc.)

 __  Will travel out of the local area

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