Dog vaccination is a constant debate and unfortunately many people are against it. However, vets agree that all puppies should receive vaccinations in order to stay healthy.
Although debatable, according to many studies, every dog should be vaccinated not only for the sake of their health but also for the health of other dogs and the people around them.
Dogs are vaccinated for the same reason humans are, to help prevent diseases. Vaccination reduces the spread of many potentially deadly diseases and is often much more affordable than paying for the treatment of a sick dog.
Some of the diseases dogs can get, as a result of not being vaccinated, can be transferred to people. Therefore, if you are getting a puppy, consult with a vet when your puppy should be vaccinated and how to take care of them.
All information in this article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS.
Shot Schedule For Puppies:
|Puppy’s Age||Recommended Vaccinations||Optional Vaccinations|
|6 to 8 weeks||DHPP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza and|
|8 to 12 weeks||DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|From 12 weeks||Rabies||None|
|14 to 16 weeks||DHPP||Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis|
|12 to 16 months||Rabies, DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every year||None||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease|
|Every 3 years (after first year booster)||DHPP||None|
|Every 1 to 3 years||Rabies (as required by law)||None|
The chart shows a schedule when your puppy should be vaccinated and which vaccines they should get. Recommended vaccines are core vaccines, which your dog must get, whereas optional vaccines are known as non-core.
Depending on the area you live, the environment and lifestyle, your vet will determine which vaccines your dog needs. If you want your dog to be healthy, it is best to stick to the schedule.
Basics Of Vaccination
Before we start getting into the details of the vaccines your puppy should get, you need to know that there are two types of vaccines: core vaccines and non-core vaccines. (1)
Core vaccines are the essential ones, which every dog should get on time i.e. according to the strict schedule recommended by vets and law.
According to American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Task Force, core dog vaccinations are:
- Canine Parvovirus
- Canine Distemper
On the other hand, non-core vaccines are optional, but that doesn’t mean your dog shouldn’t get them. Non-core vaccines include:
- Canine Influenza (dog flu)
- Lyme vaccine
Depending on the place you live, where your dog walks, and if your dog travels abroad, your vet will inform you which non-core vaccines are recommended for your dog.
Puppy Vaccination Chart:
In the chart core vaccines are the recommended ones, and non-core are optional.
Core vaccines are the essential vaccines every dog should get on time. Non-core vaccines are optional, but can be also very useful in certain cases.
Why You Should Vaccinate Your Dog
Vaccinating your dog against some infectious diseases helps to keep both your dog and your family healthy. Most of the diseases are potentially fatal, and to prevent them there’s only one option – vaccination. Some of them cannot be treated and cured.
It is often much more economical to vaccinate your dog than to pay for the intensive treatment if he was to catch one of the diseases and become very ill. Many of these diseases require hospitalization and a lot of medication- with no guarantee that your dog will survive the disease!
If you think that there is a low risk of your puppy getting infected with these diseases or you think that some dogs get better on their own, know that even though some dogs have survived, it doesn’t mean yours will too.
People are often worried about the side effects, but the veterinarian will discuss the possibility of any side effects and how you to help your dog if it has any reaction to the vaccination. Don’t skip the shots, stick to the schedule and your dog will be part of your family for a long time.
Don’t panic if your dog experiences loss of appetite or depression, because it may be due to many things, and not some disease or a reaction to vaccination. Watch out for other symptoms and consult with your vet.
Vaccination is the safest prevention against some fatal diseases that can’t be cured.
How Often Do I To Vaccine My Puppy?
As mentioned earlier, there are core and non-core vaccines that you will have to give your puppy if you want him to have a long and healthy life. Once your puppy’s initial vaccination is complete, he will be ready for a follow up injection every year. However, which vaccines are given will depend on your dog’s general health and the prevalence of disease in the area you live.
As a general rule, you can expect to vaccine your canine once a year against rabies, and once in three years, for rabies as well. Also, leptospirosis is given every year, while distemper and parvovirus may only be needed every three years. However, your veterinarian will provide you with a vaccination record card, so you will be always up to date.
Schedule: When To Vaccinate Your Puppy
As seen in the chart, there is a strict schedule of puppy vaccination, which you should follow. When you get the puppy, check if it has received any vaccines and inform your vet. Whether you are buying or adopting a dog, you should be informed about their medical history.
6 – 8 weeks
Core vaccines: DHPP- Distemper(D), Adenovirus (H), Parvovirus (P) Parainfluenza(P).
Non-core vaccines: Bordetella, Measles
Vaccines can begin as early as 6 weeks of age. The core vaccines (DHPP) are administered every 2 – 4 weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks of age.
This means that you will have regular visits to your vet clinic with your puppy in the first few months.
Some non-core vaccines can be started at this age too if the puppy is classed as a “high risk” of infection, if it lives with lots of other dogs or other dogs it comes into contact with having one of the infections. Bordetella vaccine can be administered to prevent kennel cough infection and measles vaccine can be given to help prevent distemper infection.
8 – 12 weeks
Core vaccines: DHPP
Non-core vaccines: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Between 8 to 12 weeks your puppy must get the DHPP vaccine, which will protect it from diseases which are actually initials of this vaccine – (D) distemper, (H) hepatitis, (P) parvo and (P) parainfluenza.
Depending on your environment, some other vaccines may be recommended to prevent further illnesses. Other illnesses that your vet may suggest vaccinating against are Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease.
12 – 16 weeks
Core vaccines: Rabies, DHPP
Non-core vaccines: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease
Rabies affects both humans and animals, and leads to death. Dogs can get the disease if an infected dog or wild animal bites them, or if infected saliva comes in contact with a wound. The best prevention is vaccination, so be responsible and stick to the schedule.
12 – 16 months
Core vaccines: Rabies, DHPP
Non-core vaccines: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Your dog will need to get a booster of DHPP and a vaccine against rabies. The vaccines aren’t effective if your puppy gets only one and you forget about the booster.
The DHPP is then given to dogs every 1 to 3 years.
Vaccine against rabies is given every 1 to 3 years, depending on where you live and as required by law.
Vaccination against Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease requires a vaccine to be given every year.
This complete guide shows you the importance of dog vaccination, so don’t risk your dog’s life, but prevent various diseases.
Vaccination should start when a puppy is 6 weeks old. The core vaccines will need to be administered according to a strict schedule, while the administration of non-core vaccines can be conditioned with environmental or health factors.
At What Age Do You Stop Vaccinating Your Puppy?
This may alter and depend on plenty of factors. What is known is those core vaccines are always given at 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age, and repeated annually. Customary, once your puppy reaches 16 weeks he should be done with core vaccines, and he should just visit the veterinarian for regular check-ups and a yearly vaccine.
But, some veterinarians may switch to a 3-year vaccination schedule after a dog reaches two years of age. All puppies should be vaccinated for rabies at 14 weeks of age, while deworming should take place every 2 weeks starting at 3 weeks of age.
What Happens If Your Puppy Is Not Vaccinated?
The most important thing here that you need to understand is that by vaccinating your puppy you are providing him with the best possible chance to have a long and healthy life. A number of diseases can be fatal for your dog, therefore unthinkable things can happen.
It is difficult to say what are the risks exactly, because they mar vary from region to region, from year to year, and from puppy to puppy.
Do Older Dogs Still Need Shots?
This is something that you should check with your veterinarian. In general dog vaccines for rabies should remain mandatory every year, regardless of the dog’s age. However, there is some evidence that older dogs don’t need re-vaccination with certain vaccines, such as parvovirus or distemper.
Bear in mind that as they get older dogs to lose their strength and anything invasive may hurt them. That’s why it’s crucial to talk with your veterinarian on this subject.
Overview of Diseases
Read on to learn what diseases vaccinations protect your puppy against.
Canine distemper is a serious and very contagious disease, which your puppy can get if in direct contact with another infected dog, or by sharing food or water bowls. The most common symptoms are discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, twitching, seizures or death. There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of intensive supportive care to control the symptoms.
Canine hepatitis causes a severe infection of the liver. The symptoms can include loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing and a sore tummy. There is no cure and treatment consists of intensive nursing and medication to control the symptoms. (2)
Parvovirus is another often fatal disease, and its most common symptom is vomiting and bloody diarrhea. The puppy becomes very weak and dehydrated quickly. There is no cure and treatment consists of intensive supportive care. Those puppies that survive the Parvovirus are at high risk of developing serious chronic disorders. (3)
Parainfluenza virus is one of the main causes of kennel cough infection. It is a highly contagious and can be easily spread through the air. It is a respiratory infection, and the symptoms are sneezing and coughing. In most dogs it causes a mild infection, but in puppies and older dogs it can cause a more serious infection.
Measles is a human disease caused by a virus similar to the one which causes distemper infection in dogs. Sometimes a special measles vaccine is administered to puppies between 6 and 12 weeks of age, to help protect them against the canine distemper virus. A study has shown that dogs infected with the measles virus developed both measles and distemper antibodies. (4)
Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that causes kennel cough infection. (5) It is easily spread from dog to dog, through the air. This vaccine is highly recommended for dogs who socialize with other dogs, go to the park, doggy daycare, dog kennels, or if you have more than one dog at home.
Leptospirosis is a serious infection caused by bacteria. It is spread from the urine of infected dogs or wild animals, and can be found in water and soil. It is a zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from animals to people. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness, stiffness, jaundice (yellow tinge to the gums and skin), kidney failure or liver failure. Treatment consists of antibiotics and intensive care.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease meaning it can be transferred from dogs to humans. It is a fatal disease and causes death. Dogs can get the disease if another infected dog or wild animal bites them, or if infected saliva comes in contact with a wound. (6)
The symptoms include aggression, and your happy bundle of joy may become easily irritable, which usually leads to attacking people, and other animals. After the aggression, your dog will start to hide and will become disoriented. Other symptoms are loss of appetite, weakness, and seizures. If your dog was bitten by another dog or some other animal, take them to the vet and check for any diseases.
Also, as it may happen that you aren’t around when this happens, watch your dog to see if they are licking and biting one site. Check for any wounds and consult with a vet. Unfortunately, there is no cure for rabies, and it can be diagnosed only after the dog’s death, as the brain tissue needs to be examined.
The symptoms may show that your dog has rabies, but an accurate test can only be completed after their death. Therefore, all dogs who are assumed to have rabies are euthanized.
The best prevention is vaccination, so be responsible and stick to the schedule. Also, supervise your dog when taking them to the park and walk them on a leash.
Learn more about Rabies vaccines in this article.
This virus can cause a variety of signs from nasal discharge and cough to vomiting and diarrhea. It usually causes mild disease and most dogs can be nursed better if they are kept hydrated, warm and comfortable.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called borrelia, and transmitted via ticks. (7) It can affect both humans and animals. In dogs, the most common symptoms are lameness, fever, lethargy, and enlarged lymph nodes. If left untreated it can lead to kidney, liver or heart disease and neurological problems. If diagnosed quickly, it can be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics.
Canine influenza virus, or dog flu, is highly contagious viral infection affecting dogs and also cats. The most common symptoms of canine influenza are dry, hacking cough, lack of appetite, lethargy, fever, runny nose and sometimes vomiting.
Although most dogs won’t die from the flu, many will require veterinary attention. Worsening signs are the development of pneumonia.
As for other viral diseases, to prevent canine influenza, your veterinarian could suggest dog flu vaccinations especially for social dogs (dog parks, dog shows, grooming, etc.). It consists of two shots, since canine influenza requires a booster shot two weeks after the initial, first dose of vaccine.
Heartworm and parasites
Heartworm and parasites infection can’t be prevented by vaccination, but once your puppy is 12 to 16 weeks old, talk to your veterinarian about heartworm medications. This infection is transmitted by mosquitoes, and could potentially be deadly for your pet.
There are plenty of serious and fatal diseases that vaccines prevent. Vaccination might be a way to ensure your dog leads a stress-free, healthy life. However, vaccination can also have adverse events you should be aware of. These can include fever, diarrhea or vomiting.
What Can Puppy Do In That Period?
Many dog owners, especially first-timers are worried about their puppy when it comes to vaccination. However, during this period you should be relaxed and just have a check-up of vaccine date. Don’t forget – dogs can read on our emotions from a very young age. However, what you can do for your puppy in this period is actually to prepare him enough for vaccination.
Yes, your veterinarian will give your pet a thorough check-up before administrating the vaccination, but there are still several things that you can do to your pet to prepare him for the first and every following vaccine. That being said, make sure that your furbaby is all clean and shiny with the brushed coat. There should be no dirt, loose hair, debris, or anything that can irritate the injection site.
You probably have a routine already, but it won’t hurt if we remind you to keep with a good diet, vitamin D intake, and provide plenty of exercise. All in, this should lead to supporting the build of a proactive immune system. Also, this will help with the production of antibodies to fight the vaccine and prepare your dog for the real thing.
Likewise, if your pet finds going to the veterinarian’s office too stressful you should try to minimize his stress as much as possible ahead of your appointment. You may consider the following techniques:
- Giving extra attention
- Offering treats
- Distracting your pet
- Taking his favorite toy or blanket with you
Also, during the period of initial vaccination, you should put your puppy on a special regime. This means that you need to make sure that he doesn’t come in touch with something that he shouldn’t include the other dogs. That being said, during this period of vaccination your dog can:
- Go in the owners garden only
- Meet vaccinated dogs
- Meet other humans
- Be carried outside
- Meet sa many people as possible for better socialization
What Puppy Not To Do In That Period?
Long story short, when it comes to vaccination and puppies there are some steps that should be followed. That being said, you should know what can do, and what a puppy shouldn’t do in this period.
- Puppies can’t go outside unless ten days are gone since he had his first vaccination.
- If you are not sure that other dog or dogs are vaccinated, your puppy should stay away until 2 weeks after the second vaccination.
Good to know: Two weeks after second vaccination the puppy has no restrictions at all.
What Vaccines Do Dogs Need Yearly?
Core vaccines are intended to prevent widespread diseases and they are known for providing long-term immunity for pets. Core vaccines are recommended to be administered annually, but most vets re-vaccinate dogs with core vaccines once every three years today.
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