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What is rabies?

Rabies is a highly fatal and deadly virus that is spread from the bites or scratches from animals that carry it in their saliva. Some common animals that carry rabies include:

  • foxes
  • skunks
  • raccoons
  • coyotes
  • bats

Does my dog need the rabies vaccine? 

Every dog is required by law to receive the rabies vaccine because it can be spread to people. In fact, around 55,000 people die each year from rabies (mostly in Africa and Asia). 

When should my puppy or dog receive the rabies vaccine?

In North Carolina your dog must be at least 12 weeks old to receive the rabies vaccine. It is then given again 1 year later, and then every one to three years after. 


This vaccine combines to protect against the following: 

  • Distemper is a very contagious and highly fatal virus that causes respiratory and neurological / brain problems
  • Parvovirus is a very contagious and highly fatal virus that attacks the intestines, heart and immune/defense system, mostly in puppies. 
  • Adenovirus is a virus that contains liver disease as a well as a form of kennel cough.
  • Parainfluenza is a virus that causes a form of kennel cough

Should my dog get the distemper/parvovirus vaccine? 

Yes, we strongly recommend this vaccine for every dog! It is crucially important for puppies to have distemper and parvo and for adult dogs to have adenovirus and parainfluenza. 

We recommend this vaccine for as early as 6 weeks old, given every 3-5 weeks until at least 16 weeks old and then continuing into adulthood.


What is leptospirosis? 

Leptospirosis is a highly fatal disease that affects the liver and/or kidneys that is spread in the urine of wildlife, rodents (mice and rats), cattle and pigs in water sources (backyard puddles, creeks, ponds, streams, etc). Exposure occurs from drinking infected water, or through “breaks in the skin” (scratches, sores). Leptospirosis is also a potential threat in humans.

What dogs should get the leptospirosis vaccine?

Any dog that goes outside and has access to water sources such as:

  • backyard puddles from rain
  • ponds
  • creeks
  • streams
  • etc.

Note that the leptospirosis vaccine is commonly given with Distemper-Parvo virus or it can be given alone. We recommend this vaccine starts as early as 7 weeks with a booster given 3-5 weeks later and annual thereafter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Bordetella + Parainfluenza

What is parainfluenza in dogs?

Parainfluenza is a bacterial form of kennel cough that is very contagious and causes coughing. Though it is rarely life-threatening, it can make affected dogs very sick for days.

Are there different types of Bordetella? 

Yes, there is an injectable and an oral form of Bordetella. 

With the injectable Bordetella vaccine, if your dog has never had the vaccine before, they will need to receive a booster 3-5 weeks after the initial vaccine and then given annually thereafter. 

With the oral Bordetella, we recommend that you start as early as 7 weeks and then give annually. 

Should my dog get the Bordetella vaccine?

We highly recommend the Bordetella vaccine for any dog that goes into "doggy public areas" such as doggy daycare and dog boarding facilities (it will be required), grooming facilities, dog parks, pet stores and walking on neighborhood sidewalks. 

Canine Flu H3N2 / Canine Flu H3N8

What is the canine flu? 

The canine flu is a very contagious and potentially life-threatening flu virus that does not require direct contact with other dogs to catch it. 

This vaccine covers both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains into one vaccine.

Should my dog get the canine flu vaccine? 

We highly recommend the canine flu for any dog that goes into "doggy public areas" such as doggy daycare and dog boarding facilities (it may be required), grooming facilities, dog parks, pet stores and walking on neighborhood sidewalks. 

We recommend your dog get the canine flu vaccine as early as 7 weeks old with a booster given 2 to 5 weeks later, then annually after that. 

Lyme Disease

What is lyme disease in dogs?

This is the same lyme disease that humans get. This disease is carried by ticks and is a severely debilitating disease that often attacks the joints. If not treated, it may be fatal due to kidney and heart problems.

Should I protect my dog from lyme disease with a vaccine?

We highly recommend that any dog that at risk of coming into contact with ticks be vaccinated. This especially applies to dogs that: 

  • live on farms or near wooded areas
  • are outdoors frequently
  • visit mountain ranges
  • visit beaches 
  • go hiking with their humans
  • are anywhere there are ticks present! 

We recommend getting your dog vaccinated as early as 8 weeks old, then given a booster 3 to 5 weeks later with annual updates afterwards.

Proper puppy care is important for the health and wellbeing of your new family member! Dr. Bob Parrish answers more of your top puppy care questions here.