A Complete Guide To Puppy Vaccinations (2024)

When you bring that fuzzy ball of puppy energy into your home, you know right away that your new puppy depends on you for, well, everything. It’s up to you to give your new puppy all the care they need every day. It can be a little intimidating — your puppy needs the best puppy food, plenty of attention, puppy training, puppy-safe toys, puppy socialization, a comfortable and safe place to sleep, and proper veterinary care. And that includes making sure to schedule puppy shots throughout your puppy’s first year.

Which Shots Do Puppies Need?

Going to the vet over several months for a series of puppy vaccinations—and then for boosters or titers throughout your dog’s life—may seem inconvenient, but the diseases that vaccinations will shield our puppies and dogs from are dangerous, potentially deadly, and, thankfully, mostly preventable.

We read about so many different dog vaccinations, for so many different illnesses, that it can sometimes be confusing to know which vaccinations puppies need and which puppy shots are important but optional. Here is an overview of the diseases that puppy vaccinations will help your pet avoid.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This highly infectious bacterium causes severe fits ofcoughing, whooping,vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available.

If you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, attending group training classes, or using dog daycare services, often proof of this vaccination will usually be required.

Canine Distemper

A severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals,distemperspreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose,fever, coughing, vomiting,diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hard pad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections, control symptoms of vomiting, seizures and more. If the animal survives the symptoms, it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months.

Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and the eyes of the affected dog. This disease of the liver is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.

Canine Parainfluenza

This is one of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough.

Canine Coronavirus

The canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. COVID-19 is not thought to be a health threat to dogs, and there is no evidence it makes dogs sick. Canine coronavirus usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but no drug kills coronaviruses.


When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting aheartworm preventive medication. Though there is no vaccine for heartworm in dogs, it is preventable with regularly administered heartworm medication that your veterinarian will prescribe.

The name is descriptive — these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long and, if clumped together, block and injure organs.

A new heartworm infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected dogs may tire after mild exercise. Unlike most of the conditions listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test and not a fecal exam.

Kennel Cough

Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and often involves multiple infections simultaneously. Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing; sometimes it’s severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can be deadly. It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels. Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Your vet may prescribe a dog-safe cough suppressant to help your dog (and you) get some rest, and some dog-safe throat soothers can help make a dog more comfortable.


Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and some dogs may show no symptoms at all. Leptospirosis can be found worldwide in soil and water. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people. When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, kidney failure (with or without liver failure). Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.

Lyme Disease

Unlike the famous “bull’s-eye” rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in dogs. Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Transmitted via ticks, an infected dog often starts limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature rises, and he stops eating. The disease can affect his heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months or even years later.

Talk to your vet about when your puppy will be old enough for tick preventatives. Once your puppy is old enough, keep your dog on tick preventative medication, topicals, or wearables to help stop ticks from biting in the first place.


Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most risk to contract it. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.


Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that invades the central nervous system, causing headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise, death is highly likely. Most states require regular rabies vaccinations. Check with your vet about rabies vaccination laws and requirements in your area.

Talk with your veterinarian about more information and guidance on necessary and optional vaccinations.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

The first thing to know is that there is not just one puppy vaccination schedule for all dogs. Factors such as which part of the country you live in, and your dog’s individual risk factors will come into play. Some dogs do not need every vaccine. This decision is between you and your veterinarian. Always discuss puppy vaccinations at your regularly scheduled appointments.

That said, here is a generally accepted guideline of the puppy vaccination schedule for the first year.

Puppy’s AgeRecommended VaccinationsOptional Vaccinations
6 — 8 weeksDistemper, parvovirusBordetella
10 — 12 weeksDHPP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus)Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle as recommended by veterinarian
16 — 18 weeksDHPP, rabiesInfluenza, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella per lifestyle
12 — 16 monthsDHPP, rabiesCoronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Every 1 — 2 yearsDHPPInfluenza, Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle
Every 1 — 3 yearsRabies (as required by law)none

How Much Do Puppy Vaccinations Cost?

How much puppy vaccinations will cost depends on several factors. Where you live is a big one: Veterinarians in crowded and expensive urban areas will generally charge more than a rural vet in a small town. You may be able to find low-cost clinics providing rabies vaccinations sponsored by your local municipal government. But no matter what the range in costs, some vaccines, such as the “core vaccines” and rabies, are necessary.

  • The average cost can average around $75—100. These will include the core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6-, 12-, and 16 weeks old.
  • The core vaccines include the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza). Your pup will also need a rabies vaccination, which is usually around $15—20. (Some clinics include the cost of the rabies vaccination.)
  • Often animal shelters charge less for vaccines — approximately $20 — or are even free. If you acquired your dog from a shelter, he would most likely have been vaccinated, up until the age when you got him.

The initial puppy vaccination costs during the first year are higher than during adulthood.

Vaccinations for Adult Dogs: Boosters and Titers

There is a difference of opinion about having your adult dog vaccinated every year. Some vets believe too many vaccinations in adult dogs pose health risks. But others disagree, saying that yearly vaccinations will prevent dangerous diseases such as distemper. Talk with your vet to determine what kind of vaccination protocol works for you and your dog.

Many dog owners opt for titer tests before they administer annual vaccinations. Titer tests measure a dog’s immunity levels, and this can determine which, if any, vaccinations are necessary. One key exception to this is rabies: a titer test is not an option when it comes to the rabies vaccine. This vaccination is required by law across the United States. Your vet can tell you the schedule for your particular state, with boosters often lasting three years.

And it’s all worth it. For your effort and care your puppy will lavish you with lifelong love in return. This critical first year of her life is a fun and exciting time for both of you. As she grows physically, the wonderful bond between you will grow, too.

A Complete Guide To Puppy Vaccinations (2024)


Can I vaccinate my puppy myself? ›

You can give your puppy its shots at home. Start by consulting with your vet to determine whether or not home vaccinations are a good idea for your particular puppy. Then, buy a shot packet from a reputable dealer. To give a shot, hold your puppy still, sink the needle under the skin, and push the plunger downwards.

What does a puppy need to be fully vaccinated? ›

These will include the core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6-, 12-, and 16 weeks old. The core vaccines include the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza). Your pup will also need a rabies vaccination, which is usually around $15—20.

What does the 5 in 1 puppy shot include? ›

The 5-in-1 vaccine, or DHPP vaccine, protects against five viruses: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Adenovirus 1 and 2, Canine Parainfluenza, and Canine Parvovirus. Puppies should receive the 5-in-1 vaccine starting at 6-8 weeks of age, with shots given every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks old.

How many sets of shots do puppies need? ›

We recommend that puppies receive a minimum of 3 rounds of vaccines in the first year, and for ultra protection against Parvo, we recommend puppies receive a 4th round of vaccine. Ideally, the first round of vaccine is administered about 6 weeks of age.

Is it cheaper to vaccinate dogs yourself? ›

Buying a vaccine over the counter and administering it on your own means no service fee for a veterinarian. For pet parents who have multiple pets at home, especially breeders, this can be quite a tempting cost-saving measure.

What happens if you don't vaccinate your puppy? ›

Vaccination can help avoid costly treatments for preventable diseases. Vaccination prevents diseases that can be passed between animals and from animals to people. Unvaccinated pets are at risk from life-threatening diseases found in wildlife, such as rabies and distemper.

What happens if you're late on puppy shots? ›

Dog owners should be aware that missing or delaying a vaccine in a series for more than 4 weeks puts a puppy at risk of disease. During the initial series of a vaccine, if you delay a booster more than six weeks or miss one, an additional booster vaccine will be needed 3 weeks after resuming the series.

Can I take my 8 week old puppy outside to pee? ›

It depends on the pup and the veterinarian, but your vet may give the okay for your pup to venture outside beginning at 8 weeks. While her primary series of shots won't be completed until around 12-16 weeks, you can take her outside to potty and begin to socialize her safely.

What to avoid before a puppy is fully vaccinated? ›

As a result, it is a good idea to avoid most public places until your puppy has been fully vaccinated with their core vaccines. If you do need to take your puppy into a public area such as the veterinarian, picking them up and carrying them will prevent them from coming into contact with harmful pathogens.

Are Tractor Supply dog vaccines good? ›

Tractor Supply officials told Channel 9 that their vaccines have a 25-year track record and are the same ones offered by veterinarians. Hinson has never had issues before. “I've always trusted Tractor Supply,” she said. “For 20 years since I've been raising dogs, that's where I've always gotten my shots from.”

When to deworm a puppy? ›

Because worms are so common in puppies, vets recommend de-worming them for the first time when they're 2 to 3 weeks old. Worms can pass from mother to baby before birth or soon after, through their milk. It will take more than one dose. The first round kills the worms that are there at the time.

How much is a 5-in-1 vaccine for puppies? ›

The CPV-DHLP vaccine, also called the 5-in-1 vaccine, costs Php 400 or more. The CPV-DHLP vaccine provides immunity against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Your dog should receive this vaccine between the age of 10-12 weeks.

How many parvo shots does a puppy need before going outside? ›

Puppies can't go outside safely until they've completed their third round of vaccinations, according to Dr. Sehaj Grewal, a veterinarian and CEO of The Melrose Vet. You'll want to wait about 7 days after they've received their final set of immunizations to give them time to reach their full effectiveness.

Is 2 parvo shots enough? ›

Vaccines for the parvovirus are recommended for all puppies and are typically administered in a three-shot series when the pup is between 6-to-8 weeks old, again at 10-to-12 weeks, and at 14-to-16 weeks. A booster shot is then given 1 year later and every 3 years after that.

At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog? ›

At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog? Senior dogs do not generally stop requiring vaccinations, but it will depend on your dog's lifestyle and overall health. Once a dog reaches seven years of age, its senior status requires some special considerations to keep them healthy and happy.

Can I inject my puppy myself? ›

If you have a long-haired dog, you may need to part the fur or have your veterinarian shave a small patch so you can be more precise. With a little practice, most pet owners find they have no problems administering routine injections to their dog without assistance.

Are vaccines from Tractor Supply safe? ›

They are legitimate in that they are the same vaccines vets use. However, most vets do not trust them as there is no way to prove they were always maintained at the proper temperatures. Most vaccines require refrigeration to maintain effectiveness.

How long can a puppy go without first shots? ›

Recommended Puppy Vaccines

Puppies can receive vaccination from as early as four to six weeks. However, the typical timing is eight to ten weeks, with the second dose being within two to four weeks. For the best timings for vaccination, you should talk to your vet. recommended puppy vaccines and boosters.

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