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

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.


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 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