Everyone knows that puppies are cute. That’s just a given. However, most people also know that puppies require a whole lot of work. While a lot of work goes into getting a puppy house trained and socialized, a critical part of raising a puppy is keeping up with their healthcare needs. Dogs, just like people, have vaccination schedules that help keep them and all of their playmates healthy.
If you’re considering adopting a new puppy, or you already have, learn all you need to know about their shot schedule in our helpful guide!
Why Does My Dog Need Shots?
Just like in people, vaccinations can help keep your dog healthy and allow them to live a longer, happier life. Vaccinations prevent them from getting life-threatening diseases, and it also prevents them from spreading those diseases should they be exposed to them.
While vaccine safety in people may be a large debate recently, most vets are going to tell you that your pup needs its shots, especially if you want to minimize their risk of ailments like rabies and parvovirus.
The 4 Core Vaccinations
When you’re getting your dog’s shots, you’ll hear people talk about the four core vaccinations. These are the bare minimum when it comes to your puppy’s shots, and others may be required depending on what activities your dog takes place in.
Here are the four that every puppy needs:
Canine distemper is a severe and contagious disease for dogs. It attacks the gastrointestinal, nervous, and respiratory systems of dogs. It can also affect wildlife, like skunks and raccoons. Canine distemper is an airborne contagion, and exposure to an animal that has it can lead to infection in your pet.
It can also be transmitted through shared food and water bowls. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes death. There is not a cure for distemper, should your animal catch it, so their only protection from it is through vaccination.
Canine hepatitis is a contagious viral infection. It is entirely unrelated to the human form of hepatitis, however. Canine hepatitis primarily affects a dog’s liver, but the other parts affected include the kidneys, spleen, eyes, and lungs.
Symptoms vary and can be as light as a fever or as serious as vomiting and jaundice. Like distemper, there is no cure for canine hepatitis, but the symptoms can be treated.
Commonly referred to as parvo, parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies are the most likely to contract it. Parvo can cause rapid dehydration that can be fatal within 48 to 72 hours. Other symptoms are a loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. If parvo is contracted, immediate veterinary care is needed.
Perhaps the most well-known canine vaccination is the rabies shot. Rabies is a viral disease that affects many mammals, not just dogs. As such, encounters with wildlife can result in your dog contracting rabies, making vaccination incredibly important.
Rabies is a disease that affects the central nervous system, causing a host of symptoms like foaming at the mouth, dehydration, and a fear of water. Ultimately, it leads to death if not treated within hours of being contracted. Rabies vaccinations are required by law in most states.
Your Puppy’s Shot Schedule
A puppy’s shot schedule largely depends on the area in which you live. However, there are some general guidelines for the timeline of shots for your pup.
6 to 8 Weeks
Between the ages of six and eight weeks, your puppy should receive vaccinations for both canine distemper and parvovirus. Parvovirus is very common in puppies and is the most lethal for them, even though it affects dogs of all ages.
10 to 12 Weeks
Just a few weeks later, the puppy should receive a DHPP vaccine. The DHPP vaccine is a shot that prevents distemper, parvovirus, as well as canine hepatitis. It also includes a vaccination for parainfluenza (which we’ll explain a little later).
16 to 18 Weeks
Between 16 and 18 weeks, another dose of DHPP should be scheduled for your puppy. In addition to the second dose of DHPP, the puppy can receive their first rabies vaccination. This is about the age that puppies begin to become more active and independent outside, so a rabies vaccination can help prevent any contraction of it due to encounters with wildlife.
12 to 16 Months
Between one year and 16 months, puppies should receive another dose of DHPP as well as rabies. Then, following these last doses, DHPP should be administered every one to two years, and rabies vaccinations should be administered annually to keep your dog up to date on their shots.
Additional Vaccines Available
Depending on where you live, it may be recommended or required that your pet get more than just the four core vaccines. There are a handful of them available, like the parainfluenza vaccine mentioned before. We’re going to cover the most popular options and why you may want to consider them for your four-legged friend.
A mild virus that can cause “kennel cough” in dogs. Kennel cough is described as a dry cough associated with inflammation of the airways. When you’re considering adopting a rescue, parainfluenza vaccinations may have already been administered to help prevent kennel cough from occurring.
Bordetella bronchiseptica is the main cause of kennel cough in dogs and can be vaccinated against. It is more aggressive than parainfluenza, and as such, the symptoms are a bit more problematic. They can be coughing, whooping, vomiting, and occasionally seizures. If you plan on boarding your puppy, getting a Bordetella vaccination would be a good idea. This sickness can be very dangerous; there is even research suggesting its threat to humans.
While the majority of the diseases that can be vaccinated against in dogs are viral, leptospirosis is bacterial in nature. As such, it can actually be passed from canines to humans. Some dogs may show no symptoms of having leptospirosis whatsoever, while others may have a fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, lethargy, muscle pain, infertility, and organ failure.
This bacteria is found in soil and water worldwide. If you’ve got a pup that spends a lot of time outside splashing in the water or digging, getting a vaccination against leptospirosis may be in your best interest.
Also known as borreliosis, Lyme disease is a disease that can be contracted when your pup is bitten by a tick. The disease itself is caused by a bacteria called a spirochete. When people contract Lyme disease, it’s easy to spot. The bite becomes surrounded by a rash that resembles a bullseye. However, it’s not as easy to identify in a dog.
If a dog becomes infected with Lyme disease, symptoms typically start with limping, soon followed by a fever and swollen lymph nodes. They also lose their appetite. Their overall organ health and joint health are affected, and if gone untreated for long enough, it will affect their neurological health.
If diagnosed, it can be treated with antibiotics, although it can be with your pup for the rest of their life. If you plan on taking your puppy on adventures into the woods with you, or you just have a heavy tick population in the area, a Lyme disease vaccination is highly recommended.
How Much Do Puppy Vaccines Cost?
This answer widely varies, as a number of factors come into play. If you live in an urban area, it’s likely that you’ll be paying more for your vaccinations than if you were living in a rural area. The benefit of living in an urban area, however, is that you may not need vaccinations for things like Lyme disease.
Generally speaking, the costs of vaccines are below:
- Core vaccines like the DHPP and rabies vaccinations will cost anywhere between $75 and $100 for your puppy. They’ll be administered according to the schedule your vet sets up for you.
- Other vaccines will tend to be a higher cost, as they aren’t required and are more for your peace of mind than they are regulations.
- Having your pup vaccinated at a shelter will typically cost less than going to a vet but may take more time to be done due to high demand. Shelters also vaccinate the rescues that are brought to them.
Puppy vaccines are more expensive than vaccines in a dog’s adult life. This is because of frequency, as well as necessity.
Shots Are a Key Point
If you’re looking to adopt a puppy, then you’ll need to be aware of their vaccination schedule. Puppies require quite a few vaccines, as listed above, but there are four that matter more than the others. As such, these vaccinations are required for your pup.
If you’re taking your puppy to be vaccinated, be sure to stock up on treats for afterward, too! Trips to the vet can be stressful for them, just like trips to the doctor can be for us.
Should my pet be vaccinated? | American Animal Hospital Association
Puppy Shots Schedule: A Complete Guide to Puppy Vaccinations
Dog Vaccinations - Everything you must know | Metro Vet Chicago
Human infections associated with Bordetella bronchiseptica | US National Library of Medicine