With all puppies, the earlier you start with their socializing and training, the better. It is important to know, that in order to take your puppy out safely to meet other dogs, or to enroll it in puppy kindergarten, it needs to have had all the required puppy vaccines.
Also, sticking to the puppy shot schedule, of course, will ensure that your little one doesn’t get a dangerous disease which at such an early age can even be fatal.
So, what is the typical puppy shot schedule and what are all the vaccinations your puppy will need so that you can rest assured that it is protected from the common dangerous canine diseases, and so that you can focus on having fun with your new friend and start introducing it to other dogs?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the vaccinations your young dog needs, and when to expect it to be safe to take the little fur baby outside.
The typical series of puppy vaccinations
The first vaccines are usually performed when the puppy is 6 to 8 weeks old. After them, new shots and boosters should be given every 3-4 weeks until the dog is 16 to 17 weeks old.
Some puppies, especially the black and tan breeds, will need another booster at the age of 20 weeks.
Overall, the exact number of shots and the timing depend on your dog and what your vet recommends. There is no strict rule about a puppy shot schedule which fits every single pup.
The vaccines which are included in the series, as well as the exact timing, is something which you should discuss with your vet.
Some factors can influence the puppy shot schedule and the types of vaccines included in it, such as:
- The age of the puppy
- The number of puppies in the litter
- The immunity and vaccination status of the mother
- Where the puppy was born and raised in terms of cleanliness and environment
- The other vaccines it has already had from the breeder or the shelter
- Where the puppy comes from and where it will be living
- The lifestyle your dog will have in the future – such as puppy kindergarten, grooming at a professional groomer, or do you have plans to take it hiking and fishing with you, for example
Here are the core and non-core vaccines you can expect to be included in your puppy shot schedule over time:
Depending on when you buy or adopt the puppy, it may have received one or more of the first vaccines already.
Always check with the breeder or the organization giving you the puppy about the shots it has received. Based on that information, your vet will plan the future shot schedule.
All shots are given in a series of initial vaccines, followed up by booster shots.
The vaccines which puppies aged 6 to 8 weeks will get, usually are:
- DA2P – core
A combination vaccine which is also known as a Distemper or Parvo shot, which will help protect the pup from Distemper, Parvo, and Adenovirus (canine infectious hepatitis).
The puppy may get the DA2P shot which includes protection for all of the above as well as against Parainfluenza.
- Bordetella – non-core
The first vaccine for Bordetella, also known as Kennel Cough can be given if desired or if necessary depending on the vaccine used, and whether it is an injection, or administered orally or through the nose.
- Canine Influenza Virus – non-core
There are two different Dog flu vaccines which each protect the pup from a specific strain of dog flu. The puppy can receive this shot when it 6-8 weeks old, and in both cases, this needs to be followed up by a booster 2,3 or 4 weeks later, depending on the vaccine.
Where can you take the puppy with these shots at 6-8 weeks:
You can enroll in some puppy classes – a week after the shots have been administered, and if the puppy is healthy, you can enroll it into a puppy socialization class. Of course, you will need to ensure that the facility is clean and that all other puppies have had their shots administered too.
Also, all of the puppies in the class need to have been dewormed too.
Ask your vet as well as the puppy socializing facility about the requirements and recommendations for the shots all puppies need in order to enroll.
As for the other time, you should avoid taking your puppy to dog parks, groomers, dog kindergarten or daycare, pet stores or anywhere else where there are unknown dogs. The same goes for walking the dog on the street, parks or just about anywhere.
You can meet your puppy with dogs you know are healthy in a safe environment.
If you have gotten a puppy at this age, this could be either their first or second visit to the vet. But it is a very important one, which you should not miss.
The vaccines your 6-12 week old puppy might get include the first shots listed above for 6 to 8-week old dog:
A combination shot for Distemper, Adenovirus, and Parvo – these are core. The DA2P vaccine also includes Parainfluenza protection which in a non-core but important shot.
- Bordetella (Kennel cough) – non-core
This is a vaccine which is non-core and can be given at any age as desired or if prescribed.
- Canine Influenza Virus shot – non-core
This is a non-core vaccine which exists in two different variants which protect the dog from the different Dog flu strains but should be followed up with a booster in 2, 3 or 4 weeks depending on the type of vaccine the puppy is getting.
Where can the 9-12 week puppy go after these vaccines:
After these shots, the puppy can be enrolled in a puppy socialization class.
It can meet healthy adult dogs and puppies which you know.
You should still avoid walking it on sidewalks, the park, daycare, pet stores or other places where there are dogs you don’t know.
You can take the puppy to socialization visits to friends or to the groomers if the shop is clean and there haven’t been sick dogs in recent times.
At this age, the immunity which the puppy has had from its mother has started decreasing. At the same time, the puppy’s own immune system will already be developing.
The vaccines and the booster shots which the puppy will get are essential for the proper development of the dog’s immunity.
Here are the vaccines which 12-16 week old puppies usually get:
- DA2P – core
Also known as a Distemper shot or Parvo is a core vaccine which protects the dog against Parvo, Distemper, and Adenovirus. If your puppy gets a DA2P vaccine it will also receive protection against Parainfluenza.
- Bordetella – non-core
A non-core vaccine which can be administered as an injection, or orally as well as in the nose. It can be given to puppies of all ages and will protect them from Kennel cough.
- Rabies – core
The rabies shot is a core vaccine which is mandatory according to the law. The exact age of the puppy is determined by local and state laws, but it is usually after the puppy is 13 weeks old.
- Leptospirosis – non-core
This is a non-core vaccine which includes a series of two shots which need to be administered during the first year of your dog’s life.
- Lyme – non-core
The vaccine for Lyme disease is another 2-part series vaccine which your puppy may or may not get, depending on your preferences and on the recommendations of your vet.
Where can the puppy go after these vaccines are administered at the age of 12-16 weeks:
At last, you will be able to expand the circle of friends of your puppy and let it meet and play with unknown dogs, as long as they seem and look healthy.
You can visit more places with your puppy. You can safely walk it on sidewalks and pay longer social visits to friends or to the groomers. Naturally, you should avoid dirt and soiled areas or places where there have been sick dogs recently.
At the age of 12 to 16 weeks, you should still avoid puppy daycare centers, as well as parks and fields, even dedicated dog parks.
At this age, the puppy should have a much more developed immune system and is no longer relying on the immunity passed on by its mother.
This the age where the booster shots are essential as well.
Here are the vaccines which you can expect your puppy to get at the age of 15 to 17 weeks:
- DA2P – booster shot
This is the final of the series of this core combination vaccine. It can include protection against Parainfluenza too if it is a DA2P shot or will offer protection for the puppy for Distemper, Adenovirus, and Parvo only.
This a non-core second shot in the Leptospirosis vaccine.
The second of the series of the vaccine against Lyme disease.
Where can the puppy go after all the shots are administered at age 15 to 17 weeks:
This is the moment which both you and your puppy have waited for – you can take it anywhere you want. You will need to wait for at least a week after all shots are completed to ensure that the little one has sufficient protection for all of these dangerous conditions, but after that, you can take it just about anywhere.
You can send your puppy to daycare and to the dog park, and let it start socializing with all dogs and people it meets, as long as there are no obviously and visibly sick dogs.
But these first shots are not forever
Once your puppy is done with its puppy vaccines, it will be free to meet other dogs and go with you everywhere you want, but it is key to remember that these shots are only the first ones which your dog will be getting.
In order to keep your dog protected, you will need to re-vaccinate it throughout its life.
Also, the types of vaccines and boosters which your dog will be getting later off also depends on where you are traveling with it, as well as on its health, and other factors.
Your vet will tell you when and which vaccines will need to be made.
Some vets may run a titers test to determine the condition of the immune system and when the shots need to be administered.
Some vaccines and boosters are mandatory and others are optional.
In general, you can expect that your dog gets the following vaccines or boosters:
DHPP every 1-2 years
Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme, and Bordatella – non-core – every 1 or 2 years
Rabies every 3 years – this one is required by law.
Why is timing and sticking to the puppy shot schedule so important?
Every puppy is different and has different immunity levels. Puppies from small litters born to vaccinated and healthy mothers may have had more access to the mother’s colostrum. This is the first mother’s milk which is extremely rich in antibodies and provides a lot of immunity.
On the other hand, if the puppy was born in a large litter, it may have not had access to sufficient amounts of colostrum to ensure that it stays safe and healthy during the first weeks of its life.
Overall, you can never know just how well the immune system of your puppy is and how it is developing, which is why it is essential to administer all the recommended and required puppy shots, followed up by the boosters in a timely manner, and in accordance with the puppy shot schedule.
While the vaccines can help protect the dog from these dangerous diseases, it takes weeks and even months for the puppy’s maternal immunity to wane off, and to start building their own strong immune systems.
This is why the vaccines and the boosters can take some time until completed.
But it is crucial that you stick to the schedule, no matter how impatient you are to take your puppy out on a proper walk or enroll it to puppy kindergarten.
What vaccines do dogs need? Core vs. non-core vaccines
Core vaccines are of critical importance because the diseases they prevent are easily spread, or can be spread to people or are so devastating, that they are absolutely mandatory.
These are the vaccines for Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, and Canine Infectious Hepatitis. The first one is required by law and the other three are combined in one vaccine – often as a DA2P shot. Some vets add the Leptospirosis to the group of the mandatory core vaccines due to the danger of Lepto being caught even by indoor dogs, as well as because it is a disease which can spread to humans as well.
The non-core vaccines are the vaccines which exist and work as a protection for some specific diseases, but are not necessarily administered, due to geographical differences, their lesser severity, or other factors.
The non-core vaccines are for Leptospirosis (even though some vets include Lepto in their core combination shots), Lyme disease, Kennel Cough, Dog flu and Parainfluenza.
In certain situations these non-core vaccines can be very helpful and can even save a dog’s life, so speak to your vet about the recommended shots for your dog based on where you live, how high the risk of certain infections is, as well as the health of your dog.
Which conditions can be prevented by vaccines in dogs
While not all vaccines for canines can prevent an infection 100%, most of them can and even if not completely prevent it, can minimize the effect and the course of the disease.
Here are the diseases in dogs which have vaccines available for them:
Bordetella Bronchiseptioca (Kennel cough)
This is a highly infectious bacterial disease which causes severe coughing, vomiting, whopping and in rarer cases – seizures and even death.
The vaccine is available in injectable form as well as a nasal spray or orally administered.
This is a dangerous and highly contagious disease which attacks the gastrointestinal, the respiratory and the nervous system of the dog. It can be spread through coughing and sneezing, as well as from a shared bowl of water or food and toys.
Distemper causes eye and nose discharge, coughing, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, twitching, seizures, paralysis and quite often – death.
There is no cure for canine distemper, and only the secondary symptoms can be treated or managed.
This is an infectious and highly contagious disease which affects the liver, kidney, lungs spleen and the eyes of the dog. There is no cure but some symptoms can be managed and many dogs make it through canine hepatitis.
It is one of the several viruses which can lead to kennel cough.
This virus attacks the gastrointestinal system causing vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. It can also affect the dog’s respiratory system.
There is no cure for coronavirus, and only the symptoms can be treated.
Lepto is caused by bacteria which can be found in water or in the soil. It can be spread from the dog to people.
Although it can be completely asymptomatic, some of the symptoms of infection are loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, jaundice, stiffness, muscle pain, kidney failure, and infertility.
The condition is treatable, but the sooner the treatment begins – the better.
This is an infection by the spirochete bacteria which is transmitted through tick bites.
The infected dog may start limping, have a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a lack of appetite. Lyme disease can affect the pup’s heart, joints, and kidneys and can cause neurological disorders when left untreated. The treatment is with antibiotics, but relapses are known to happen months or even years later.
Parvo is highly contagious and is most common among unvaccinated adult dogs or puppies less than 4 months old. It attacks to dog’s gastrointestinal system and causes severe bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and a loss of appetite.
The infected dog can die for 48 to 72 hours due to the extreme dehydration, so immediate veterinary care is vital.
There is no cure for Parvo, but with the secondary symptoms treated, and the dog kept hydrated under veterinary control, there is a chance that it can pull through it.
Rabies is the most dangerous of all diseases which attacks dogs and other mammals including people alike. It is often transmitted by a bite from an infected animal.
The symptoms of Rabies include anxiety, headache, hallucinations, drooling, paralysis, fear of water and very often – death. The treatment could be successful if started within a few hours of the infection. In most states, the vaccine for Rabies is required by law.
The cost for puppy vaccinations
The cost for the shots your puppy will be getting depends on where you live. A rural vet in a small town will charge much less than a vet in a crowded and expensive city.
No matter what the cost is, the core vaccines are absolutely necessary and the vaccine for Rabies is required by law.
Overall, you can expect the cost for the core vaccines administered at 6, 12 and 16 weeks will be about $75-100.
Rabies vaccination costs about 15 to 20 dollars.
In some cases, the animal shelters charge less for vaccinating dogs, and sometimes they may administer them for free. If your dog is from a shelter, it has most likely been vaccinated with all vaccines required by its age.
The initial puppy vaccinations cost more than the vaccines and boosters you will be giving your dog later on in life.
Vaccines are a required investment every dog parent should make in order to keep its dog healthy and safe, prevent these dangerous diseases from spreading, and also save money in the long run for veterinary care.