The most common vaccines for a dog to receive are for Rabies, Distemper (DA2PP), Leptospirosis, Lyme, Canine Influenza, and Kennel Cough (Bordetella). Read on for information about each individual vaccine.

Rabies Vaccine

What is Rabies?

Rabies is transmitted by a virus and is one of the most devastating diseases affecting mammals, including dogs and humans. The danger of a bite from a rabid dog was described in writings dated from the 23rd century BC. 

How is rabies transmitted?

The disease is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected animal.

How widespread is Rabies?

Rabies occurs in every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Most countries are affected with the exception of a few island countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, Japan and Hawaii. Norway, Sweden and the Iberian Peninsula are also free of rabies.

How is the virus transmitted?

Rabies virus does not survive long outside a mammal’s body. The infection is transmitted when one infected animal bites another. In Europe, foxes are the main reservoir while in North America the skunk, fox, raccoon and bat are important sources of infection. In Asia, Africa and Latin America the main reservoir is not wildlife but stray dogs. In these areas, human infection and fatalities are more common.

How long is the incubation period?

The incubation period can vary from ten days to one year or longer. In dogs, the incubation period is typically two weeks to four months. The speed at which clinical signs develop depends upon:

The site of infection - the nearer the bite is to the brain and spinal cord, the quicker the virus reaches the nervous tissue

1.    The severity of the bite
2.    The amount of virus injected by the bite

What are the clinical signs?

Following a bite from a rabid animal, the disease progresses in stages. In the first or prodromal phase the dog undergoes a marked change in temperament. Quiet dogs become agitated and active pets become nervous or shy.

Following this stage, there are two recognized forms of the clinical disease:

Furious rabies occurs when the rabid dog becomes highly excitable and displays evidence of a depraved appetite, eating and chewing stones, earth and rubbish (pica). Paralysis eventually sets in and the rabid animal may be unable to eat and drink. Hydrophobia (fear of water) is not a sign of rabies in dogs. This is a feature of human rabies. The dog finally dies in a violent seizure.

Dumb rabies is the more common form in dogs. There is progressive paralysis involving the limbs, distortion of the face and a similar difficulty in swallowing. Owners will frequently think the dog has something stuck in the mouth or throat. Care should be taken in examination since rabies may be transmitted by saliva. Ultimately the dog becomes comatose and dies.

Is it possible to survive a bite from a rabid animal?

There are isolated and poorly documented reports of both dogs and people surviving. In some cases, there may have been very little rabies virus present in the saliva at the time the rabid animal bit its victim.  In this situation, the victim may not develop rabies. 

However, as Louis Pasteur was the first to show, it is possible to interrupt the progression from an infected bite to the onset of signs by the early post-bite use of anti-rabies serum. This antiserum contains specific immune antibodies to the virus. The most important method for preventing the progression of rabies is by administering a dose of rabies vaccine. The vaccine stimulates the bitten animal to develop its own neutralizing antibodies to the rabies virus. Without vaccination and rapid post-exposure treatment, the chances of survival are poor.

Is vaccination effective?

Vaccination promotes the production of antibodies but is only effective if given before the virus enters the nervous system. Modern rabies vaccines for dogs, cats, horses and ferrets are extremely safe and effective.

What is the treatment for rabies?

There is no treatment for a dog with rabies. If rabies is suspected, the dog has to be kept in isolation and prevented from escaping or injuring someone. Your veterinarian is required by law to notify the local and state or provincial animal disease regulatory authorities.  These authorities will determine the steps necessary to properly protect the public.

Can I catch rabies?

Yes, the disease is zoonotic or can be transmitted from an animal to man. It is only transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal. The virus is present in the saliva of the infected animal only for a limited time.

If any animal that may be suspicious for rabies bites you, immediately wash and flush the wound thoroughly with soap and water, -and seek immediate medical assistance.

Post exposure rabies treatment with serum or vaccine may be recommended and is very successful if begun quickly.

Is it possible to vaccinate my pet?

There are several rabies vaccines approved for dogs, cats, horses and ferrets. Dogs and cats between the ages of twelve and sixteen weeks should be vaccinated. Rabies revaccination is dependent on state or provincial law. Your veterinarian will advise you on the appropriate revaccination intervals and can assist you in obtaining any necessary licenses for your pet.

Distemper Vaccine

The Distemper vaccine protects against four viruses:

D - Distemper: Respiratory disease that is usually fatal and is transmitted by infected carriers such as racoons. There is also neurological and gastrointestinal form of this disease

A2 - K-9 Hepatitis: adenovirus infects liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. 

P - Parvovirus: Gastrointestinal virus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is highly contagious and commonly fatal in puppies.It is highly resistant to disinfectants, and can survive in the environment for months.  

 P - Parainfluenza: Respiratory Disease. This is highly contagious and is transmitted through the air. 

 What is Distemper?

Many people think that the distemper vaccine improves your pet's temperament. FALSE. Distemper is much more serious, it is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Vaccinating for this is very important! 

How is Canine Distemper Transmitted?

  • Direct contact with infected bodily fluids: urine, blood, saliva.
  • Respiratory secretions from an infected dog: ex: sneezing, coughing

Clinical Signs:

  • Diarrhea - bloody, foul smelling
  • Fever
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Thick yellow discharge from eyes and nose
  • Respiratory distress
  • Paralysis
  • Muscular Spasms
  • Possible death
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

What is the treatment?

As with most viral infections, there is no specific treatment. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but do help in controlling the secondary bacterial infections that often occur with distemper. The treatment for distemper is aimed at helping reduce the signs and symptoms. This is accomplished with hospitalization providing rest and intensive nursing care, intravenous fluid therapy and symptomatic treatment for the vomiting, diarrhea, cough, etc.

How can I prevent my dog from becoming infected?

Fortunately we have highly effective vaccines to use. These are given to puppies along with other routine vaccines. Although in the majority of dogs the protection from initial vaccination may last more than a year, annual revaccination may be recommended because some dogs may be at higher risk for contracting the disease.

How common is distemper?

Canine distemper is seen worldwide but because of the widespread use of successful vaccines, it is much less common than it was in the 1970’s. It is still seen in populations where vaccination rates are low and in stray dogs. The virus may persist in recovered carrier dogs and in wildlife such as skunks and raccoons. It is essential to keep vaccinating our dog population to prevent canine distemper from returning as a major killer of dogs.

Leptospirosis Vaccine

It's scary to think that a fun stroll through the woods or swim in a favorite watering hole can lead to a terrible illness, but it can for you as well as your dog. If this is a hobby that you and your pet enjoy, listen up! 

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a serious, life threatening  bacterial disease that can be found in most animals, including livestock (cattle, pigs and sheep) and wildlife (deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rats, and other rodents). Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria spread through soil, water, and the urine of infected animals, and if not caught early it can be deadly.There is a vaccine available for the most common subtypes of the bacteria that infect dogs. Ask our staff if the leptospirosis vaccine is right for your dog.

Is this a problem where I live?

Bacteria can be present in any stagnant surface water, moist soil and recreational water sources like ponds and lakes.

How can my dog get infected?

  • Drinking, swimming, or walking in contaminated water
  • Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin or mucous membranes

Can people get Leptospirosis?

Yes, Leptospirosis can cause severe illness in people People infected with Leptospirosis show the same symptoms as pets: fever, joint pain, excessive drinking, and general malaise.. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 200 human cases of leptospirosis are confirmed a year in the U.S. 

Clinical Signs of Leptospirosis:

There are three main forms of the disease: 

  1. Hemorrhagic (bleeding)
  2. Icteric or jaundice (liver)
  3. Renal (kidney)
  • Fever - (hemorrhagic disease
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice - yellow gums, yellow whites of the eyes
  • Weakness
  • Decreased appetite
  • excessive drinking (polydipsia)
  • excessive urination (polyuria)
  • Blood tinge urine

In severe cases, liver failure and kidney failure may be fatal.

How is leptospirosis diagnosed?

Because the clinical signs are variable and easily confused with other diseases, definite diagnosis can be difficult. There are no readily available rapid and definitive laboratory tests. Taking blood samples during infection and again in the recovery period and showing an increase in antibodies to Leptospira in the blood serum (at least a four-fold increase in antibody titer) is supportive of the diagnosis. A single test finding of Leptospira antibody, even if the blood level (titer) is high, may not mean that the dog has Leptospirosis because infection with less harmful serovars can still result in high antibody.

What is the treatment?

Antibiotics are reasonably effective if begun early. Most affected dogs require intensive care in the veterinary hospital. An extended course of antibiotics may be prescribed even in the recovery period to ensure that all the Leptospira organisms are cleared and the dog does not become a chronic carrier.

How can leptospirosis be prevented?

  • Protection = Prevention. Vaccinate! Vaccinate your dog and livestock. The vaccine for leptospirosis is not always part of the routine vaccination program for all dogs. It is affordable, convenient and safe. Save yourself the trauma of this disease by incorporating this into your dog's routine vaccination program. Your veterinarian will consider the risks and options for your pet. Annual boosters may be needed to maintain best immunity. 
  • Avoid water that might be contaminated with the bacteria, especially stagnant water
  • Practice good sanitation, washing hands, wear protective clothing.

Lyme Vaccine

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi. A spirochete is a type of bacterium. Lyme disease is transmitted most commonly by the bite of a  deer tick. As most people know, our area has recently become inundated with the disease. We now have more Lyme positive patients than Lyme Connecticut! We strongly recommend vaccinating your pet as well as getting them on a monthly flea and tick preventative to ensure their safety. 

Lyme Facts

  • Dogs are 50% more likely to get Lyme disease than humans
  • 1 in 7 dogs tested POSITIVE for Lyme Disease in Pennsylvania
  • A tick needs to attach itself for only 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease

Lyme disease affects dogs differently and some may show no signs at all. In some cases it takes up to six months.

Lyme Disease Clinical Signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Shifting Lameness
  • Limping
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen, painful joints
  • vomiting
  • Fever

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

Pets with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are two blood tests that may be used for confirmation.

How can you prevent Lyme Disease?

The key to prevention is keeping your pet from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short tree. They wait until their sensors detect a close-by animal on which to crawl or drop.

  • Keep your pet on a monthly preventative for ticks - Monthly products include: Revolution, Vectra 3D, Nexgard, and Scalibor collar. 
  • Avoid wooded areas
  • Check your pet for ticks after being outside. 

Will the Lyme Vaccine Protect my pet?

A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two- to three-week intervals. Annual revaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective. Some pets will receive the vaccine every two to three years based on the vaccine used, your pet’s lifestyle and individual risk assessment. Be sure to discuss any questions you may have regarding the type and frequency of vaccination with your veterinarian.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Treatment can be expensive. Because the Lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it usually can be controlled by antibiotics.However, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary to completely eradicate the organism. The initial antibiotic selected to treat an infected pet may not be effective against the disease, especially if the infection is long-standing. In this situation, changing to another antibiotic is often effective. Occasionally, the initial infection will recur, or the pet will become re-infected after being bitten by another infected tick.  Additional exams, labwork, and antibiotics may be needed. At CRVC we provide you with a treatment plan with the estimated cost. If left untreated Lyme disease can result in: Heart disease, Kidney disease, and Neurologic disease. 

Canine Influenza Vaccine

What is canine influenza?

Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by a specific Type A influenza virus referred to as "canine influenza virus." This is a disease of dogs, not of humans. 

What is a canine influenza virus?

The canine influenza virus is an influenza A H3N8 influenza virus that was originally an equine influenza virus. The virus has spread to dogs and can now spread between dogs. 

How long has Canine Influenza been around?

The equine influenza virus has been known to exist in horses for more than forty years. In 2004, cases of an unknown respiratory illness in dogs was reported. After investigation it was determined that the respiratory illness was caused by the equine influenza. There have now been confirmed cases of canine influenza caused by canine influenza virus (CIV) in Northeastern PA, including Wayne County and Honesdale area.

What are the symptoms of this infection?

Symptoms of canine influenza virus may be indistinguishable from other infections, such as Bordatella bronchiseptica, which contribute to the symptoms of "kennel cough." The most common symptoms are lethargy, decreased appetite, low-grade fever, nasal discharge, and coughing that can last for several weeks. While the majority of dogs will have mild symptoms, CIV can also cause a high fever, increased respiratory rate, pneumonia, and even death. 

How serious is this infection?

The number of dogs infected with canine influenza that die is very small. Some dogs have no symptoms while some have severe infections. 

How is this transmitted?

Canine influenza virus is spread through sneezing, coughing, direct animal to animal contact, and by contact with contaminated surfaces. CIV has caused outbreaks at boarding facilities, shelters, grooming facilities, dog parks, and dog beaches throughout the United States. Dogs coughing or showing some signs of respiratory disease should not be in contact with other dogs. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure. Because this is a new virus, most dogs have never been exposed to it and have no antibodies to it (and mothers have no antibodies to pass on to their pups).

Can you test for canine influenza?

Testing is available at other veterinary diagnostic centers. 

How is CIV treated?

Treatment consists of supportive care. In milder forms their care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains hydrated.

Is there a vaccine for canine influenza?

YES! There is a vaccine available. We here at the Cherry Ridge Veterinary Clinic are reaching out to encourage protection against this virus by vaccinating.  We are recommending vaccination against CIV for all dogs that are boarded, groomed, and come in direct contact with other dogs. The canine influenza virus (CIV) vaccine aids in the control of disease and has been shown to reduce the incidence and duration of coughing and viral shedding in infected dogs. This vaccine can be given safely to dogs as young as 8 weeks of age. Previously unvaccinated dogs will need an initial vaccine and then a booster three weeks later. Annual re-vaccination id needed to help continue protection. Please contact us if you have additional questions or would like to schedule your dog. 


Kennel Cough is a respiratory infection that causes a dry hacking or "honking" cough. It is airborne and it is HIGHLY contagious! If your pet will be boarded at a kennel, go to puppy/obedience classes, a groomer or to a dog park where other canines will be in close proximity, your pet should be vaccinated!

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a broad term covering any infectious or contagious condition of dogs where coughing is one of the major clinical signs. The term tracheobronchitis describes the location of the infection in the “windpipe” or trachea and bronchial tubes. Several viruses and bacteria can cause kennel cough, often at the same time. These include adenovirus type-2 (distinct from the adenovirus type 1 that causes infectioushepatitis), parainfluenza virus, and the bacterium Bordetellabronchiseptica. Because the infection spreads when dogs are housed together, it is often seen soon after dogs have been in kennels, hence the name “kennel cough”.

What are the clinical signs of kennel cough other than coughing?

Clinical signs may be variable. It is often a mild disease, but the cough may be chronic, lasting for several weeks in some cases. Common clinical signs include a loud cough often describe as a “goose honk”, runny eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, lack of appetite and depressed behavior. Most cases of infectious tracheobronchitis have a demonstrable or elicitable cough that occurs when the throat is rubbed or palpated.

What is the treatment for infectious tracheobronchitis?

There is no specific treatment for the viral infections, but many of the more severe signs are due to bacterial involvement, particularly Bordetella bronchiseptica. Antibiotics are useful against this bacterium, although some antibiotic resistance has been reported. Some cases require prolonged treatment, but most infections resolve within one to three weeks. Mild clinical signs may linger even when the bacteria have been eliminated.

How can I prevent my dog contracting Kennel Cough?

Most vaccination programs your veterinarian will recommend contain adenovirus and parainfluenza. Bordetella vaccination is also highly recommended for dogs that are boarded, groomed or interact with other dogs in areas such as dog parks.

How effective are these vaccines?

Immunity, even if the dog has experienced a natural infection, is neither solid nor long-lasting. We cannot expect vaccines to do much better. Since immunity varies with the circumstances, Consult with your veterinarian regarding specific vaccination recommendations for your pet. Which may vary according to specific circumstances. Some kennel facilities require a booster vaccination shortly before boarding and some veterinarians recommend a booster vaccine every six months to ensure maximum protection against this troublesome infection.

How are the Bordetella vaccines administered?

Bordetella vaccination is given either by injection or intra-nasal route. Intra-nasal refers to the liquid vaccine administered as nose drops. This allows local immunity to develop on the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and windpipe where the infectious agents first attack.


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