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41 Morristown Road
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(908) 766-0041

Bernardsville Animal Hospital is a small animal veterinary hospital in Bernardsville, New Jersey. Our mission is to provide top-notch medical, surgical, and dental care to our patients.


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The Core Four: Required Vaccines For Your Canine Companion

Lynn Alexy

It’s well established that our companion canines require vaccinations to keep them healthy.  A dog’s lifestyle and behavior put him/her at risk of contracting diseases that can be readily prevented with a good vaccination protocol.  The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that ALL dogs be protected against the following diseases:

Rabies: Rabies is caused by a virus carried by animals in the wild.  The four species that carry rabies are the fox, skunk, bat and raccoon.  The bat and raccoon variants are the predominant ones in the northeast. NJ Department of Health reports that hundreds of raccoons are diagnosed as rabies-positive every year.  All dogs are required, by law, to be vaccinated against rabies.  Vaccines are given either annually or every 3 years. It is important to note that cats are also required, by law, to be rabies vaccinated.  It’s especially noteworthy that cats, not dogs, account for 90% of the domestic animals rabies cases in New Jersey, averaging 16 cats per year.  Cats and dogs need direct exposure (usually through a bite) from an animal with an active case of rabies. Rabies is ZOONOTIC, meaning it can be passed from one species to another, i.e. from cat to human, so it is vitally important to rabies vaccinate your dog and cat for the health and safety of the humans in the house as well!

DA2PP: Often called “distemper,” this multi-vaccine protects against several diseases.  D= distemper and is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes measles in humans.  Distemper is often fatal to the dog if it is contracted.  A= adenovirus, which causes a liver infection or hepatitis.  P= parvovirus, a potentially fatal intestinal virus, especially in puppies.  The last P= parainfluenza, a severe form of influenza.  This multi-vaccine is given three to four times as a puppy, then every one to three years thereafter.

Leptospirosis: Has now been upgraded to a core vaccine in New Jersey. It is a bacterial disease that propagates in the wild and is shed in the urine of host animals.  Any outside water source, from a stream to a puddle to soggy grass, can be contaminated with the leptospirosis bacteria.  Taking a quick drink from a rain puddle is a common way dogs get infected with leptospirosis. It is potentially fatal, causing liver and kidney failure in its most severe form. Leptospirosis is also ZOONOTIC and can be passed from dog to human. The vaccine is given as two initial doses, about 4 weeks apart, then annually thereafter.

Lyme:  Lyme disease is caused by bacteria and is transmitted through a tick bite, especially the deer tick.  Ticks can be found on any warm blooded animal and are virtually everywhere.  Ticks are most active in the spring and fall. While not technically a “core” vaccine for dogs across the US, it is considered a core vaccine for New Jersey dogs.   The vaccine available for dogs is safe and highly effective.  Your dog needs to receive two initial shots, about 4 weeks apart, then once per year after that.  All dogs should be protected against fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.  There are numerous options, and I recommend you consult your veterinarian for advice on which is best for your pet.

Elective Vaccines:  There are other vaccines available for kennel cough and Canine influenza that may be required if your dog is groomed or kenneled.  Please consult your veterinary health care team for these elective vaccines.