What are "core vaccines?"

Q: What’s the difference between “core” and “non-core” vaccines? Why should I care?

A: Core vaccines are those that are recommended for all dogs or cats.

They protect against diseases that infect dogs or cats of all life stages and lifestyles. These diseases usually (1) have high rates of infection, (2) pose a threat to the pet’s life, or (3) are a danger to human health. Core vaccines include rabies for dogs and cats; canine distemper, canine parvovirus and adenovirus (hepatitis) for dogs; and herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis), calicivirus and panleukopenia (feline distemper) for cats.

“Non-core” vaccines protect against diseases that are most common in pets of a certain life stage or lifestyle, as well as pets living in areas where these diseases are common. They’re not necessary for every pet, but should be used when a pet has a reasonable risk of exposure to the disease in question. Non-core vaccines used at Priority Pet Hospital include Bordetella (kennel cough) and Leptospirosis for dogs and feline leukemia for cats.

Modern vaccines are very safe, but they’re not 100% risk-free. Allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and other adverse reactions–though rare–can be caused by vaccines. Wise pet owners look for a veterinarian who’ll tailor their vaccine protocols to each individual patient’s needs to minimize the risk of vaccination. Wise consumers like individual vaccine protocols because avoiding unnecessary vaccination helps reduce the overall cost of preventive care.