Veterinarian carrying a brown puppy

Dog Vaccinations

Vaccinations provide important protection against serious diseases. In the past several years, however, new information has shown that certain vaccines may not need to be given every year. At Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, we discuss vaccines with you and suggest an alternate protocol based on your pets’ specific lifestyle and risk of exposure to certain bacteria and viruses. We will only administer and recommend vaccines that are specifically necessary for your pet and your lifestyle together.

What types of vaccinations do you offer for adult dogs?

The core vaccines that we use here at Westbridge are on a 3 or 4-year cycle whenever possible. As an alternative, for certain vaccines such as Rabies, Distemper and Parvovirus, titer testing is also available for any pet that has a history of any sensitivity towards its vaccines. Titer testing involves sending a blood sample from your pet to a specialized laboratory where they can measure the level of antibodies for specific pathogens, which can be reflective of their level of protection. Based on these levels, we may be able to more accurately determine if your pet requires additional vaccination.

We believe in minimal vaccination, and vaccinating for only what is appropriate for each individual, based on the intricacies of their lifestyle.

Is there a schedule for how often a dog should be vaccinated?

At Westbridge Veterinary Hospital, we follow Canine Vaccine Protocols that are based on the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) recommendations. This means we tailor the vaccine schedule to your pet, based on up to date scientific studies. There are “core” vaccines and “optional” vaccine recommendations.

Core Vaccines

  • DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) Although some current studies have demonstrated the possibility of some of the vaccines lasting over seven years, we are legally bound to follow the most recent up to date vaccine protocol recommendations as published by AAHA (the American Animal Hospital Association). We are now able to extend these recommendations by one year. Eventually, in time, we expect that the period between many of the core vaccines will be extended. As soon as these become proven and published recommendations, we will implement them into our hospital protocol. This is our commitment to providing your pet with the safest and most up to date care for their general health.

    Initial series: For adults who have never been vaccinated, 2 doses are given, 3-4 weeks apart, then the booster is given every four years thereafter.
  • Rabies as dictated by Canadian law: The first vaccine is given at 14 weeks of age or later, then one year later, a booster is given, which will then be good for three years the Rabies booster is given every three years thereafter.
  • Leptospira – Leptospirosis is an infectious disease of dogs and other mammals that primarily affects the liver and kidneys. It is caused by the bacteria Leptospira. Bacteria are passed in the urine of infected animals and can survive in the environment for long periods of time in moist soil or stagnant water. Wild animals including skunks, raccoons, opossums, rats, wolves, and deer, can all spread the infection.

    Initial series: For adults who have never been vaccinated, 2 doses are given, 3-4 weeks apart, then the booster is given every year thereafter.

Non-Core Vaccines
The Bordetella vaccine is recommended for some dogs, based on the lifestyle of your pet. These vaccines use a “bacterin.” This means they have been shown to offer immunity for only up to one year. This is in stark contrast to the viral-based vaccines such as Rabies and DHPP that last much longer (see above).

Bordetella (“Kennel Cough”)
This vaccination is recommended for dogs that will be coming into contact with other dogs of unknown vaccine history. NOTE: Some groomers and kennels insist on having this vaccine up to date before offering their services. It can be transmitted at off-leash parks, walking on the street, or in kennels, wherever there is direct contact with other dogs. It is given annually to be protective and is now given by mouth (much better tolerated than previous vaccines given in the nose). This vaccine is ideally given 1 week prior to exposure (i.e. boarding) and only lasts one year.

Titer Testing
The technology now exists in both a reliable and cost-efficient form to test levels of antibodies for certain viruses that we vaccinate for. Blood tests can be done for parvovirus, distemper and Rabies to see if your pet has titre levels that are considered protective. If their levels are sufficient, vaccines may be postponed to a later date. It is important to note, however, that although we can do titer levels for Rabies, the Government of Canada still requires vaccination according to manufacturer labels, regardless of titre levels. If there is any incident of a dog bite to a human, there must be proof of Rabies vaccination of the pet to satisfy legal requirements.


Dog thinking about ticks and fleas

Year-round protection means more peace of mind!

“Tick season” used to mean spring/summer/fall, with a break over the winter – the colder weather meant that we could take a break from worrying about these pesky bugs and the diseases they can transmit. But in the last few years, we’ve seen a change creeping up on us, with the weather staying warm later into the season, and spring arriving earlier each year – and the bugs are loving it! You may have already heard us talking about how any day that the temperature is above the freezing point, ticks are potentially active. This past year, we had days above 0°C in all 12 months! Ticks aren’t killed by the cold, they simply go dormant, waiting until it’s warm enough to come back out – so last year, even January and February had days warm enough for ticks to be active! This means that we are now recommending that all dogs (and cats that go outdoors) take advantage of year-round flea and tick protection. There are several options, our first choice being an all-in-one that protects against fleas, ticks, and heartworm, as well as providing regular deworming against roundworms. One pill, once a month – what could be simpler? If your pet is already on a monthly preventative, all you need to do is pick up a refill and continue throughout the winter months. If your pet hasn’t yet started on comprehensive parasite prevention, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have and set you up with the best option for your pet. What does this mean for testing? The 4DX test that we recommend most commonly screens for heartworm disease, Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes (so every dog in Ontario is potentially at risk – at Westbridge we treat a few cases every year!), and the others are all transmitted via tick bites. We have seen an increase in Lyme-positive dogs in the last few years, one of the reasons we are recommending some of these changes. For better early detection and the safety of your pet, we are recommending annual 4DX testing for all dogs. This simple blood test can be done at any time, although the optimal time is in the spring. Catching disease early is key to successful treatment – and no matter how careful you are with preventative medications, there is always some risk of infection. As always, our veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians are available to answer any questions you may have about the best options for your pet. Email us at info@westbridgevet.com, or call us at 905-285-0002

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Last updated: December 17, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 19, 2020 some restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.


This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!



We are OPEN with the following hours:

- Monday to Friday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
- Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
- Sunday: CLOSED


Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

Your dedicated team at Westbridge Veterinary Hospital