Dog vaccination schedule – how many shots does he need?

Dog vaccination schedule – how many shots does he need?

What’s the correct dog vaccination schedule? With more types of vaccinations available than ever, are they all necessary?  And are they all safe?

Always a risk


In the big picture, we wouldn’t enjoy the health we do today without vaccines. Think about polio, diphtheria, whooping cough and measles, virtually wiped out thanks to immunization efforts around the world.

Yet in spite of these wins, there are many critics of immunization, especially pet vaccinations. While vaccinations have been a miraculous tool in reducing suffering, illness, and death among both animals and humans, there is always an associated risk.

Many people think that today’s dogs and cats suffer because vaccinations are given too early, too often and too much (too high a dosage).  It would be extreme to say that your Morkie should never be vaccinated. But that does not mean over-vaccination and vaccinating unnecessarily is your only other option.

An aggressive dog vaccination schedule isn’t the answer.

You don’t have to just accept your Vet’s advice at face value without questioning it — if you have to stand up to your Vet, so be it – your dog’s health and welfare and even his life could be at stake!

There are CORE vaccines:

They’re called Core because these vaccines protect animals from severe, life-threatening diseases which can be found worldwide. These diseases, as defined by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) are:

  • rabies – fatal for animals and humans
  • distemper – often occurs in puppies and is almost always fatal
  • infectious hepatitis – a serious liver disease
  • parvovirus – or parvo, is a severe intestinal infection that can kill a puppy in just a few days

Most Morkie owners would go along with Distemper and Hepatitis vaccinations – but did you know that once inoculated as puppies, there’s usually no real need to keep on vaccinating, year after year?

After all, do we adults keep getting our childhood vaccinations? Your dog likely has lifetime immunity to these diseases or immunity for at least 5 to 7 years.

If you do choose to get Distemper and Hepatitis booster shots, be sure to get them separately. By doing that alone, you cut the chances of a bad reaction in half.

core vaccination graphics

And there are NON-CORE vaccines:

Non-core vaccines are those that are often recommended for animals based on where they live, their environment and their chances of contracting the specific illness.

 Just some of the non-core vaccinations include:
  • Leptospirosis – or “lepto,” a bacterial disease of the urinary tract, can cause chronic kidney and liver failure
  • Bordatella – or kennel cough; severe hacking and coughing that may linger
  • Lyme disease – passed along by blood-sucking deer ticks, causes multiple health problems
  • Canine parainfluenza – vaccine helps reduce the impact of kennel cough but does not prevent it
  • Coronavirus – this is like a milder form of Parvo resulting in diarrhea and dehydration. Vaccinations are also given to fight other diseases, including giardia – or “beaver fever,” and bronchiseptica – one of the leading bacterial causes of kennel cough.



non core vaccinations


Many Vets recommend these non-core vaccinations as a matter of course; however, take the time to learn more about them, their potential side effects (especially on small dogs), and then balance the risks against the benefits.

When any non-core shot is recommended, be sure to ask your Vet about your small dog’s specific chances of getting the disease, the severity of that disease, the success rate of the vaccine and the risks that come with vaccination.


Since you might not get all the answers you deserve, or you might suffer from ‘white coat syndrome’ (feeling intimidated by doctors), or you’re simply confused, please, continue to research the non-core vaccinations in particular.

10 Questions to ask before vaccinating

10 Questions to ask before vaccinating

Today’s pets are subject to a LOT of vaccinations and that’s not good for small dogs like Morkies. There are more types of vaccinations available than ever – are they all necessary?  And are they all safe?

Dogs like Morkies are far more likely to suffer an adverse reaction to vaccinations; in fact small dogs are TEN TIMES more prone to bad vaccination reactions.

That’s because of the practice of bundling more than one vaccination together (sometimes as many as 8 or 10 vaccines are given at once!)… PLUS… the fact that all dogs, no matter their size, are given the same dosage of vaccine.

The big players in animal care (for example, the American Animal Hospital Association – the AAHA) have changed their recommendations about how often pets need certain vaccinations – but has your Vet changed?

While vaccinations have been a miraculous tool in reducing suffering, illness and death among both animals and humans, there is always an associated risk.

So what can you do as a concerned owner, to reduce the risk to your Morkie?  Here are 10 questions to review with your Veterinarian before you consent to the shots.  Remember, it’s up to you — the informed consumer — to make the final decision as to what’s best for YOUR Morkie!

1. Is the vaccine absolutely necessary?

  • Is the disease found in my area, and how dangerous is the disease?
  • Is the disease contagious to people?
  • Is the vaccination required by law in my area?

2. How effective is the vaccine?

  • How long has the vaccine been in use?
  • Does it protect against all strains of the illness or disease?

3. How safe is the vaccine?

  • You’ll likely hear things like “I’ve never seen a bad reaction” but probe deeper: if there were an adverse reaction, what would it be?
  • What are typical short-term reactions? Long-term reactions?

4. How does my dog’s age factor in?

  • The very young and very old are more in need of vaccination to protect against infectious diseases than adult animals.
  • What is my dog’s general overall health?  Is my dog healthy enough to withstand catching Bordatella (kennel cough), for example, without the vaccination?

5. How do you see size of my dog affecting your recommendations?

  • We’ve seen incontrovertible proof that the smaller the dog, the more likely a reaction and the more likely a serious reaction. This is especially true with these four vaccines:
    • rabies
    • leptospirosis
    • coronavirus
    • bordatella

6. What is my dog’s risk of exposure to the disease?

  • Does my small dog frequent areas such as large open fields and marshy, wet forests where deer may roam? Then his chances of picking up Leptospirosis are likely slim.

7. What is the prevalence of the disease in general?

  • Some areas never experience cases of Lyme disease or corona, so vaccination
  • against these diseases makes little sense unless you travel with the pet to areas
  • where these diseases are very common.

8. What is my Morkie’s past vaccination history?

  • Handle with extreme care if your dog has already had vaccine reactions in the past.

9. What is my small dog’s lifestyle?

  • If my Morkie travels or has frequent close contact with other animals (groomers, kennels, obedience classes, etc), is a different vaccination protocol necessary?

10. Has my Morkie ever had a bad reaction to vaccination?

  • If so he is definitely a candidate for a Titer Test; and you will most certainly want to – at the very least – unbundle the vaccinations that you and your Vet agree are absolutely necessary.

Check out my book, The Truth Exposed: Vaccinations and Your Small Dog!

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