- Expect to pay around $100 — This covers what’s known as core vaccinations, vaccines that are considered vital for your dog. Your vet may recommend non-core vaccinations based on your pet’s breed or specific health needs at an additional cost.
- Mild side effects are common — When your pup gets a vaccine dose, you can expect mild side effects such as lethargy or a low-grade fever. These are normal and should go away in a day or two. If your pup stops drinking water or starts vomiting, call your vet.
- Keep track of your pup’s paperwork — Have a secure place in your home for storing your pet’s paperwork, including vaccination records. These will be useful when you need to reference them in the future.
You’ve got so many things to do when you bring home a furry new member. One of the most important things to add to your list is getting your puppy’s vaccinations. If you adopted your puppy from a shelter, likely they’ve already received some, if not all, of their necessary vaccines. The shelter will share that information with you and/or your veterinarian.
You can then work with your vet to determine what vaccines or boosters your dog is due for next. If you got your puppy from a breeder or if they haven’t received their vaccinations, your veterinarian will walk you through the vaccination schedule at your pup’s first vet visit.
Why vaccinations are a good idea
Because your new puppy will need to visit the veterinarian repeatedly over the first several months, these trips may seem inconvenient. But shielding your new best friend from dangerous and potentially deadly diseases is worth the extra trips to get vaccinated. The first shots will be at 6-8 weeks of age. You can take care of these at your pup’s first vet visit and plan for the rest of your dog’s vaccines with your vet.
What a puppy vaccination schedule looks like
The below table outlines what a puppy vaccine schedule may look like according to your dog’s age. While this is the typical vaccination schedule for many dogs, vaccine schedules may look different from dog to dog.
Puppy vaccination schedule
|Puppy’s Age||Core vaccinations||Non-core vaccinations|
|6-8 weeks||Distemper, parvovirus||Bordatella|
|10-12 weeks||DHPP: vaccines for distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, and parvovirus||Influenza, leptospirosis, bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle as recommended by a veterinarian|
|16-18 weeks||DHPP, rabies (according to state law)||Influenza, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, bordetella based on lifestyle|
|12-16 months||DHPP, rabies booster shot (according to state law)||Coronavirus, leptospirosis, bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 1-2 years||DHPP||Influenza, coronavirus, leptospirosis, bordetella, Lyme disease based on lifestyle|
|Every 1-3 years||Rabies booster shot (according to state law)||None|
Determining your dog’s vaccine schedule
Dog vaccination schedules are not a one-size-fits-all for pups. Several factors determine which dog vaccines are necessary, including breed, where you live, and your dog’s unique risk factors. A pup’s weight, health, and age are also taken into account.
Some pet parents get multiple shots in one visit to help reduce the stress your dog has to endure at the vet’s office. Some pups can tolerate this, though other pet parents may choose to reduce soreness and side effects for their puppy by spacing out the vaccinations. Your veterinarian can help determine what’s best for you and your furry friend.
Core vs. non-core puppy vaccinations
Some canine vaccinations are essential and legally required by state laws. These are called core vaccines because they protect against the most prevalent, dangerous, and contagious diseases. Core vaccines include canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Non-core vaccines are vaccinations your dog’s vet may recommend based on unique factors such as your dog’s breed or where you live.
Core vaccinations for puppies
While rabies vaccination is the only vaccine required by law in most states, all core vaccinations are essential to ensuring your pet’s safety and health. If you plan to travel with your pet on an airline, you will be asked to provide your pet’s vaccination record. Many doggy daycares and grooming facilities also require proof of core vaccination.
- Distemper. Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can wreak havoc on a number of your dog’s bodily systems. Getting your pup vaccinated for distemper prevents this potentially fatal disease.
- Parvovirus. “Parvo” for short, parvovirus is another very contagious disease that causes gastrointestinal tract problems. Pups that don’t get the parvovirus vaccine can also suffer from heart damage or even death.
- DHPP. The DHPP vaccine is a five-in-one core vaccine that prevents distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Pet owners can consult with their vet to see if the DHPP vaccine is right for their pup; getting this vaccine can reduce the number of vet visits your pup will have to make.
- Adenovirus. Hepatitis (Adenovirus-2) is an acute infectious disease that targets the liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen, and eyes. While dogs may still live after developing a mild form of the disease, getting vaccinated will help prevent painful symptoms such as vomiting, fever, or seizures.
- Parainfluenza. One of the most common causes of kennel cough, parainfluenza is a respiratory illness that affects dogs.
- Rabies. Rabies is an incurable viral infection secreted in the saliva which attacks the nervous system and can cause animals to behave abnormally and aggressively. Most states require all dogs to receive the rabies vaccine.
Rabies in humans is rare in the U.S. but fatal when left untreated. Always seek treatment for a bite, even if an incidence is unlikely.
Non-core vaccinations for puppies
Non-core vaccinations are not required or have any legal ramifications for not getting them. However, your veterinarian may recommend one or multiple vaccines on this list based on your geographical location, your dog’s specific needs based on breed or health history, or your and your dog’s lifestyle needs.
Proof of a bordetella vaccine is often on the list of required vaccines needed for canine airline travel. Many doggy daycares and grooming facilities also require proof of a bordetella vaccination.
- Bordetella. Bordetella is a bacterial-based respiratory disease that causes a severe form of kennel cough. Vets recommended this vaccine based on a pup’s lifestyle and interactions with other dogs
- Canine influenza. Also known as dog flu, this is a contagious viral infection spread by barking, sneezing, and coughing. Social dogs that interact at parks or daycare facilities are at high risk, so vets will often recommend the influenza vaccine for these dogs.
- Leptospirosis. Most common in areas with a warm climate and high rainfalls, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in soil and water. If left untreated, this disease can cause permanent liver or kidney damage.
- Lyme disease. Like in humans, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through infected ticks. Vaccination against Lyme disease may be recommended for dogs that are often outside and/or live in areas with high-risk factors.
- Coronavirus. Not to be confused with COVID-19, the canine coronavirus affects a dog’s gastrointestinal system, though it can also cause respiratory issues. The vaccine is most recommended in puppies under 8 weeks and usually isn’t continued, though your vet may recommend it based on your pup’s needs.
Boosters for later in life
Adult dogs may require regular booster shots for some vaccinations to continue their effectiveness. They’ll typically receive these at their annual checkup — call ahead to see which shots your dog requires.
Rabies booster rules depend on your state’s laws but typically are required when your pup reaches 1 year old, then every three years. The DHPP vaccine booster is administered every three years after the initial vaccines. Bordetella, leptospirosis, influenza, and Lyme disease boosters are administered annually.
Dog owners may opt to give their dog a titer test, which measures your dog’s immune system and can determine which vaccines are necessary. However, the rabies vaccination is not optional for a titer test as it is required by law across the majority of the United States.
A quick history of animal vaccination
The history of veterinary vaccination dates back to 1879 when Louis Pasteur, a French chemist, created a vaccine for chicken cholera. Pasteur followed that up with a vaccine for sheep and cattle anthrax in 1881, according to the National Museum of American History. In 1884, Pasteur tested his rabies vaccination on animals. It was used on humans, too, shortly thereafter.
The first modern vaccine was created by English physician Edward Jenner in 1796. He figured out how to inoculate against smallpox by using fluid from cowpox pustules. However, humans have experimented with other forms of vaccination since 250 BCE.
Frequently asked questions
How long after the second puppy vaccination can they go out?
One week after your puppy’s second round of vaccinations, they will be immune to distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. Your pup can now walk in public areas and attend puppy classes.
How many shots do puppies need before going out?
After your puppy’s third round of vaccinations, between 16-18 weeks, it’s safe for them to go to the park and interact with unfamiliar dogs.
When should a puppy have all their shots by?
Your pup will complete its final rounds of necessary puppy vaccines by 4 months of age.
My puppy’s vaccine schedule is off. Will we have to start over?
No, you’ll just need to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to get your pup the necessary vaccines.
How is the vaccination schedule for dogs determined?
The American Animal Hospital Association determines the recommended schedules for core and non-core vaccinations and boosters for puppies and adult dogs.