At Mission Animal Hospital, some of the most common questions we get are about San Luis Obispo dog vaccinations– what to give, why to give it, and when it should be given.  So here you go– everything you need to know about San Luis Obispo dog shots… in one spot.

SAN LUIS OBISPO DOG VACCINATIONS–WHAT we can protect your dog against…

  • Rabies— the ONLY disease that you can get from your dog, which is why the City and County mandate it
  • Distemper and Parvo— two highly contagious dog diseases that are still common in many areas of the United States
  • Kennel Cough, or Bordatella— just like a human cold, highly contagious when your dog is around other dogs
  • Leptospirosis— A water-borne bacteria that can kill both humans and pets
  • Rattlesnakes— there is a vaccine that protects dogs against the venom of the Pacific rattlesnake
  • Lyme disease— a significant problem in some areas of the United States, including the CA coast from Cambria north

SAN LUIS OBISPO DOG VACCINATIONS– WHY you should protect your dog against these diseases…

  • Rabies— because rabies is generally fatal for both humans and pets, all dogs and cats should be vaccinated against it.
  • Distemper and Parvo-– young dogs are at most risk, so EVERY puppy should be fully protected against these diseases by giving them a full round of three puppy vaccines and then a booster at 12 months.  However, after that THE CONTINUED USE OF DISTEMPER AND PARVO VACCINES SHOULD BE BASED UPON HOW MANY OTHER DOGS YOUR PET CONTACTS
  • Kennel Cough— Mandated by most groomers and boarding kennels because it is so highly contagious.  If your dog doesn’t come into contact with other dogs, in general you don’t need to worry about it.  Really.
  • Leptospirosis (“Lepto”)— If your dog wades or swims in fresh or saltwater, they are at risk of leptospirosis.  Because lepto can kill your dog, you should think long and hard about this.
  • Rattlesnakes— If you regularly hike or camp with your dog, this vaccine will generally turn a snakebite from a $3000-4000 expense to a $300-400 expense.  Your call.
  • Lyme vaccine— If your dog spends time outside from Cayucos north, you should at least think about this vaccine.  However, it is not fully protective and it has a high incidence of side effects, so we generally recommend tick prevention instead of using the Lyme vaccine.

SAN LUIS OBISPO DOG VACCINATIONS– WHEN you should protect your dog against these diseases…

  • Rabies— By state law, the first vaccine should be given after 16 weeks of age, then boostered at 1 year.  From then on, every three years as long as your veterinarian is using a good vaccine.
  • Distemper and Parvo— Puppies should be given this combination vaccine at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age.  Although breeders like to give these shots prior to 7 weeks, before that time they do NOT protect your puppy.  All dogs should be boostered again at 12 months.  After this booster, your dog may be fully protected for up to seven years, so DON’T OVER-VACCINATE your dog– think hard about how many other dogs they come into contact with.
  • Kennel Cough— if your dog is going to be in a risky setting like boarding, vaccinate them a week before with an intranasal or oral kennel cough vaccine.  Because this protection only lasts at high levels for 3-4 months, if your dog’s exposure continues they should be protected every 4 months or so.  However, we at Mission Animal Hospital do NOT routinely recommend this vaccine for dogs who are not at risk.
  • Leptospirosis— if your dog is a wader/swimmer, two shots separated by a month and then annually.
  • Rattlesnake— if your dog is at risk, two shots separated by a month, and then annually.   Time this vaccine to when you need the protection– if your dog is not at risk during the winter, for instance, then give it in the spring.
  • Lyme— two shots separated by a month, then annually.  As for the rattlesnake vaccine, time the vaccine to your dog’s risks.


More questions about San Luis Obispo dog vaccinations?  Here are the latest AAHA guidelines….



Except for rabies and the puppy round of distemper/parvo protection, YOUR DOG’S VACCINE PROTECTION SHOULD BE DICTATED BY THEIR RISKS, NOT BY A VETERINARIAN’S POSTCARD.  Remember that nobody likes getting shots, and that every once in a while vaccines carry risks– so do NOT overuse them.

We’re Mission Animal Hospital, and we’d love to help you protect your dog– sensibly!!

san luis obispo dog vaccinations