Vaccines for Dogs

Which Vaccinations Are Commonly Given to Dogs?

Vet Vaccinating Dog
Vet Vaccinating Dog. Getty - LWA / Stone

Vaccines are an important part of preventative health care for our pets. Dogs are commonly vaccinated against some or all of the following diseases. Core vaccines should be given to all dogs, whereas non-core vaccines are given where indicated by your dog's lifestyle or the geographic area in which you live.

Editor's note: With the exceptions of legal requirements for rabies or vaccination requirements for kennels or travel, many veterinarians recommend vaccinating adult pets every three years, as per The American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines.

It should be noted, however, that an annual (yearly) examination is still strongly recommended to make sure your pet remains in optimal health.

See also: UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital Canine And Feline Vaccination Guidelines

Core Vaccines


A fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system and that is contagious to humans.


A viral disease that is often fatal, affecting the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and often the nervous system.

Hepatitis / Adenovirus

Vaccination against adenovirus type 2 protects against both adenovirus types 1 and 2. Adenovirus type 1 causes infectious canine hepatitis, a viral disease that affects the liver and other organ systems, causing serious illness which is sometimes fatal. Adenovirus type 2 causes a respiratory illness and may be involved in the development of a kennel cough.


A viral disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, and which can be fatal.


A viral disease affecting the respiratory system; may be involved in the development of a kennel cough.

Non-Core Vaccines


A bacterial infection that can cause or contribute to a kennel cough.


A bacterial disease that affects several systems including the kidneys and liver; can be fatal.

Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.

Lyme Disease


A bacterial disease spread by ticks that can cause arthritis and other problems such as kidney disease. Only a risk in certain geographic locations so not used routinely for every dog. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.


A viral disease that primarily causes diarrhea. The risks of coronavirus infection are not as great as other viral diseases, so The American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines advise against routinely vaccinating for coronavirus. Your vet can help you decide if your dog should have this vaccination.


The American Animal Hospital Association also recommends against vaccinating for giardia, because the vaccine can prevent shedding of cysts but doesn't prevent infection.

Canine Influenza H3N8

The canine H3N8 virus, also called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV), is a relatively new influenza virus in dogs. It causes flu-like symptoms in dogs and is very contagious when dogs are in close contact (i.e. kennel). Due to the contagiousness of this virus, some kennels, grooming salons, and similar businesses are now requiring this vaccination to prevent an outbreak.

Aside from those situations, the decision to vaccinate your dog (or not) should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Combination Vaccines - What do all those letters mean?

Viruses for which dogs are routinely vaccinated are often combined into a single shot as a combination vaccine (except the rabies vaccine, which is given separately). There are several different types of combinations vaccines available, and the individual components vary; they usually contain the core group of vaccines or the core with one or two other vaccines. Combination vaccines are often just called distemper or distemper/parvo vaccines, though there are more components than these. Each component is typically represented by an initial. What do all the initials mean?

  • D = Distemper
  • H or A2 = Adenovirus type 2; also protects against Hepatitis (caused by Adenovirus type 1)
  • P = Parainfluenza (sometimes Pi)
  • PV = Parvovirus (sometimes simply abbreviated as P)
  • L = Leptospirosis
  • C = Coronavirus

As an example, the last time my dog was vaccinated, her certificate stated that along with her rabies vaccine, she received a DA2PPV vaccine. This means she was vaccinated for distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parvovirus, and parainfluenza viruses.

Other common abbreviations for combination vaccines include DHPPV and DHLPPV, among others.

Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.