Other Vaccines

Killed Inactivated Vaccines (Non-Infectious)

Because the antigen alone in a vaccine may not be adequate to actually immunize a dog, many noninfectious vaccines must also contain some type of adjuvant. Adjuvants include a wide variety of substances that maintain or “depot” the antigen, as well as stimulate an inflammatory response to provide a more robust immune response to the vaccine antigens. Together, the antigen and adjuvant are designed to stimulate a protective immune response. However, this tissue inflammatory response from adding adjuvants can lead to more undesirable vaccine side-effects.
Some of the killed whole cell bacterial vaccines do not require the addition of adjuvant because the bacterial cell walls of the Bordetella, Leptospira, or Borrelia (Lyme) organisms have innate adjuvant properties, in addition to serving as antigens.
Further, critical to production of a noninfectious vaccine is the process used to inactivate the virus or bacterium, to ensure that it is truly “dead”. At the same time, this process must not significantly alter the antigenic properties of the organism or the resulting vaccine will be ineffective. Chemicals, ionizing irradiation, and other methods are used to kill the organisms. Chemicals used for inactivation include formalin, b-propiolactone, EDTA, and other agents. But, some of these agents cannot be completely eliminated from the final product. Injection site pain or hypersensitivity have occasionally been attributed to the residual chemicals. When compared with infectious (attenuated, nonvirulent modified live, and recombinant viral vectored) vaccines, noninfectious vaccines are more likely to produce local and systemic adverse reactions in some dogs.
Noninfectious vaccines are often considered to be the safest vaccine type because the immunizing agent (virus or bacterium) is inactivated and killed; thus, it cannot revert to virulence and cannot cause the disease that the vaccine was intended to prevent. Remember, however, that hypersensitivity reactions are more common with the noninfectious, killed vaccines than with the infectious, modified-live or recombinant vaccines.

Leptospirosis Vaccines

For dogs at high risk for leptospirosis, which has diffuse symptoms and can cause liver and kidney failure – if caught too late, Dr. Ron Schultz at University of Wisconsin recommends using the four-way vaccines (which cover the L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars) They should be given first at 14 to 15 weeks (but not before 12 weeks), and repeated three to six weeks later. If the second dose is given more than six weeks after the first one, the two-dose series needs to be repeated.
Subsequent doses are administered at one year, and then annually thereafter, as the duration of immunity is relatively short-lived.
In high risk exposure areas, the clinical incidence of leptospirosis is about 1:1000-2500 dogs; whereas the risk in general exposure areas is only about 1:5000-10,000 dogs. Although positive serum titers have ascribed leptospirosis to the L. autumnalis and L. bratislava serovars, these normally do not produce clinical disease.
Furthermore, true clinical cases of leptospirosis have serum titers of at least 1:1600 or higher, and an 8 to16-fold rise in titer three to four weeks later is needed to definitively confirm the disease.
Dr. Schultz also finds that a fairly high percentage of dogs that do not respond to the currently available 4-way leptospirosis vaccines. In addition, of all the bacterin vaccines, leptospirosis causes the most adverse reactions.
Limited studies have been conducted to assess the immune response to a single dose of leptospirosis vaccine in dogs that have not received a booster vaccination in 12 months. Among dogs with a high risk of exposure, it is reasonable to consider administering two doses of vaccine, 2–6 weeks apart, if the interval between doses exceeds 24 months.

Lyme Vaccines

All dogs in low-risk Lyme disease exposure states and regions do not need to be vaccinated with Lyme disease vaccines. There is no scientific basis for recommending use of this vaccine in low-risk areas. However, while there may be selected “hot spot” areas where infection is very high and vaccination would be indicated, dogs in most areas probably would not benefit from and may actually be at risk for adverse vaccine reactions, if a large scale vaccination program was initiated.
Infection with the Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi, does not necessarily cause the disease, as only about three to four % of infected dogs develop disease. However, whether vaccination is or is not indicated, all dogs should be treated with one of the highly effective tick and flea preventive medications. Also, even Lyme vaccinated dogs can develop disease as efficacy of the product is only about 60 to70 % in preventing disease. Thus, antibiotic therapy should be used in vaccinated dogs that are developing Lyme disease symptoms, just as it is used to treat in non-vaccinated Lyme diseased dogs.
Only limited (unpublished) studies have been performed to evaluate the immune response to a single dose of Lyme disease vaccine in dogs that have not received a booster vaccination in 12 months. Although a single dose of Lyme vaccine given years after the initial doses can raise antibody levels, the protective quality of these antibodies has not been confirmed by infectious challenge studies. Among dogs with a high risk of exposure, it is reasonable to consider administering two doses of vaccine, 2–6 weeks apart, if the interval between doses exceeds 24 months.

Canine Influenza Vaccine

The recent canine influenza outbreak that affected more than 1,000 dogs in Chicago and other parts of the Midwest has been found to be due to a different strain of the virus than was earlier assumed, according to scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin.
The results from additional testing indicated that the outbreak is caused by the Asian strains of influenza A H3N2 viruses, currently in wide circulation in southern Chinese and South Korean dog populations since being first identified in 2006. There is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans.
The outbreak in the Midwest had initially been attributed to the H3N8 strain of virus, which was first identified in the US dog population in 2004 and has been in limited circulation since. However, the H3N2 strain virus had not been previously detected in North America. The outbreak in Chicago suggests a recent introduction of the H3N2 virus into the US from Asia.
The USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, IA is sequencing two H3N2 isolates from this outbreak, to completely characterize these virus isolates.
Both influenza strains (the original and new Asian isolate) can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge, and lethargy, but only in a small subset of infected cases. Symptoms may be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus. But, about 80% of infected dogs have only mild symptoms and some infected dogs may not show symptoms at all.
Diagnostic testing of samples from sick pets should use a broadly targeted Influenza A matrix reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay (Rt-PCR), as the usual canine-specific Influenza A H3N8 Rt-PCR will not detect this new Asian virus. Serology testing is currently not yet available as the H3N2 virus is different enough from H3N8 that antibodies may not cross react.
It is not known whether the current canine influenza vaccine will provide any protection from this new virus. It does protect against H3N8, which is in circulation in some areas. Other preventive advice remains the same: In areas where the viruses are active, avoid places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks and grooming salons.
Lastly, studies have not been performed to evaluate the immune response to a single dose of the current canine H3N8 influenza vaccine in dogs that have not received a booster vaccination in 12 months. Among dogs having a high risk of exposure to the original H3N8 strain , it is reasonable to consider administering two doses of vaccine, 2–6 weeks apart, if the interval between doses exceeds 36 months.

Canine Coronavirus Vaccines

Duration of immunity studies have not been reported. This killed, inactivated vaccine is not recommended by the American Animal Hospital Association or the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Rattlesnake Vaccine Toxoid

Intended to protect against the Western Diamondback rattlesnake, this toxoid vaccine does not adequately protect against other common species of rattlesnakes in the southwestern US (e.g. Mohave Green) or the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. Two doses are given a month apart starting as young as 4 months of age. Field efficacy and experimental challenge data are not available, and adverse reactions including sloughing of the skin and muscle at and below the injection site have been experienced.

Kennel Cough/Bordetella

Bordetella is the most well-known respiratory bacterium and a very common agent to provoke Kennel Cough but does not need to be present to produce Kennel Cough. This is the same with any other inhaled lesser known bacteria, like Bartonella or Mycoplasma, as they too need one or more aforementioned predisposing factor(s) to create actual Kennel Cough.

So why do many kennels and grooming facilities require Bordetella even though it may or may not be a factor in producing Kennel Cough
Answer: It’s usually because of the perceived liability, an insurance issue, or a regional or state law. Seeing that Bordetella and other upper respiratory vaccines are not 100% efficacious, this whole issue is somewhat moot. In our opinion, we should not be subjecting these dogs to vaccines against upper respiratory viruses or bacteria needlessly, as all vaccines have the potential to cause adverse reactions.
Circumstances do exist where a pet caregiver must give the Bordetella vaccine to board a companion animal.

• Use the oral or intranasal (sniff) versions as they cause the body to release interferon which helps cross-protect against the other upper respiratory viruses. Injectable Bordetella vaccine does not offer this added benefit.
• Ensure that it is ONLY a Bordetella vaccine and not a combination injectable with adenovirus-2 and parainfluenza vaccines.
• Give it at a minimum (NOT a maximum but a minimum) of two weeks before boarding your pet.


Inactivated, noninfectious (killed) vaccines produce relatively short-lived immunity and protection, so that annual boosters are recommended. Because these vaccines typically require the use of adjuvants to elicit protective levels of immunity, they are more likely to produce adverse vaccine side-effects. Furthermore, the clinical exposure risk of these vaccines is usually low in the general population, so these vaccines may not be necessary.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

“Bordetella: Does Your Dog Need the Kennel Cough Vaccine?” Truth4Pets, 21 July 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. <http://truth4pets.org/2012/07/kennel-cough-vaccine/.
“Kennel Cough in Dogs.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/kennel-cough-in-dogs.

Larson, Laurie J., Bliss E. Thiel, Patricia Sharp, and Ronald D. Schultz. “A Comparative Study of Protective Immunity Provided by Oral, Intranasal and Parenteral Canine Bordetella Bronchiseptica Vaccines.”A Comparative Study of Protective Immunity Provided by Oral, Intranasal and Parenteral Canine Bordetella 11.3 (n.d.): n. pag. The Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine, 2013. Web.


Schultz, Ronald, PhD. “What Everyone Needs to Know About Canine Vaccines.” Puli Club of America, 2007. Web. 25 Oct. 2015. http://www.puliclub.org/chf/akc2007conf/what20everyone20needs20to20know20about20canine20vaccines.htm.

“2011 Canine Vaccination Guidelines”, American Animal Hospital Association, 2011, 42 pp; www. jaaha.org