Risk Based Vaccines: Is My Puppy at Risk?

So we discussed the “core” vaccines last week. This week’s blog will go over a few elective vaccines. You should discuss your puppy’s lifestyle, home environment, and travel plans with your veterinarian to determine if he/she is at risk for these diseases and could benefit from vaccination.


Canine Influenza

Canine influenza is similar to human influenza and often presents as coughing and sneezing.  Very young and very old dogs are at the highest risk of severe disease symptoms, such as pneumonia.  Influenza is transmitted between dogs and can be spread before an infected individual even starts showing any symptoms.  Vaccination for this virus may be recommended for dogs which are likely to be around lots of other dogs at parks, boarding facilities, daycare, or travels to regions that report a high number of influenza cases.  There are many strains of the flu virus, just like with people, so the vaccine targets the most common strain at this time. Fortunately, this particular canine strain is unlikely to infect humans.


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and most commonly causes issues with a dog’s joints and kidneys.  Stopping a tick from attaching long enough to transmit Lyme disease or one of many other tick-borne diseases, is the most important component of preventing disease. All dogs should be kept on monthly flea and tick prevention that kills ticks quickly. There are many options for these, and your veterinarian can help you select one that works best for you and your puppy.  The Lyme vaccine is an added layer of protection and can help prevent or decrease the severity of Lyme disease if a tick slips by your monthly preventive medication.  In our area of northern Virginia, there is a high tick load, and a large percentage of these ticks are positive for carrying Lyme disease.  If you live near woods, go hiking, or find lots of ticks in your yard, talk to your veterinarian about this vaccine.  While Lyme disease does infect humans, transmission requires a tick bite, so humans cannot be directly infected by contact with their dog.  However, this is just another reason to be sure your dog is on an effective preventive, so they don’t bring ticks inside the house!



Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease transmitted in the urine of wild animals, like mice and deer. Dogs are typically exposed by sniffing around areas outside, or drinking from water sources outside, like puddles or ponds.  This disease causes liver and kidney damage in dogs and can be transmitted to humans by contact with an infected dog’s saliva, urine, or feces. There are multiple strains of this type of bacterial fortunately the vaccine covers for several all in one immunization. Many deer claim neighborhoods in our region as their home, so even if you’re not planning to take your puppy on hikes/camping trips in the future, you should discuss your dog’s individual risk with your veterinarian.

Aldie Veterinary Hospital’s staff is here to work with you and determine the best steps to protect your fur baby against potential diseases.  In Skipper’s case, he lives on a small farm with tons of wildlife and creeks.  He is also exposed to lots of dogs through my work, and from coming to the clinic, so I developed a timeline to vaccinate him against all of the above and ensure he is protected.  Canine Influenza, Lyme, and Leptospirosis vaccines are each given as a two-part initial series, with a booster given 2-3 weeks after the first vaccine.  After that initial series, these vaccines can be maintained with one booster at your dog’s annual examination.  Skipper, like most of our patients, has yet to even notice when he’s gotten a vaccine, because he’s always so distracted by the love and pets and $20,000 squeeze cheese from our lovely assistants!


Much love & squeeze cheese distracting!


-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#Vetsrus #SkipperAndConroy