There are several canine vaccines on the market which can be used to protect your dog from preventable diseases. As a general rule, canine vaccines are administered to puppies at two to four week intervals until 16 weeks of age, and to adult dogs at intervals of three years. Vaccination recommendations vary, depending on your veterinarian's position on canine vaccines, and it is best to follow the advice of your vet.
Canine vaccines can be broken up into two groups: core vaccines, and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are vaccines which are strongly recommended for all dogs, while non-core vaccines are optional canine vaccines which are administered on an individual basis. For some dogs, the core vaccines are enough, while other dogs, such as dogs which board frequently, traveling dogs, and dogs who work outdoors, should receive some of the non-core vaccines as well.
One of the core vaccines, rabies, is often required by law, due to concern for the well being of wildlife and people. In addition to rabies, the core vaccines include canine distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus. All of these diseases can be fatal to dogs, and they are also very common, especially in kennels, making protection at an early age crucial.
Non-core canine vaccines include bordetella, leptospirosis, lyme, and coronavirus. In addition to these vaccines, dogs who work outdoors can also receive rattlesnake vaccines, in which they are exposed to rattlesnake venom so that they can develop antibodies. The use of rattlesnake vaccines is a topic of debate among veterinarians; some feel that it is not advisable, while others are willing to administer these vaccines, as long as dog owners understand the increased risk.
When discussing canine vaccines with your vet, make sure to discuss your lifestyle, as some vaccines may be more applicable than others. Also ask for a copy of your immunization record, so that you know what your dog has been vaccinated against. Be aware that if you plan to travel with your dog, some areas of the world require proof of specific vaccinations and sometimes a quarantine before your dog will be allowed to enter. If you travel a lot in Europe, you may want to apply for a pet passport, which will smooth your dog's border crossings in the European Union.