HEALTH & CARE

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs: What Shots Your Dog Needs And When

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Have you looked into a proper vaccination schedule for your dog(s)? If not, that’s probably something you should get done right away. After all, one of the simplest things we can do to keep our furry friends in good health is to make sure they get all their vaccinations on time! It may not seem like a big deal, but a puppy who can develop Parvovirus before getting vaccinated is not likely to make it. That may seem dramatic, but the sad truth is it happens.

Not only can your dog get sick and potentially die, but if they contract rabies and bite you or anyone else they are putting human and dog lives alike at risk. Every state has their own laws for how often your dog will need to get a rabies shot after his initial puppy vaccination, but your vet will be able to tell you if this is not often enough. (Some states only require it every three years or so while others require rabies vaccinations to be renewed every year.)

Vaccination schedule

If you are bringing home a new puppy, it is important to be sure that they get all the proper shots at the right time. It could be detrimental to their health if these shots are not received and they are most effective when given to the pup at the proper times. The good news is that there is a pretty simply schedule to follow – it may vary by a few weeks depending on your veterinarians’ preference, however for the most part the ages for puppy shots are standard across the board. Here’s our sample of a puppy vaccination schedule that you can read.

Affordable Pet Vaccine Back

Today we will go over which shots your puppy needs all the way up into adulthood as well as what they do to protect your dog.

Core vs non-core vaccines

You may have heard your vet talking about your puppy’s core vaccines and non-core vaccines as well. The facts are that while every dog receives a more or less standard set of vaccines (to fight against diseases that are common in dogs) but there is also a list of vaccines for less common diseases. The core vaccines are ones that your dog should receive regardless of breed, while the non-core vaccines are sometimes given to specific breeds or lines that have a history of being susceptible to particular diseases.

Vaccine vs parvo

In the end it is up to you whether or not you want your puppy to receive non-core vaccinations. Your vet will be able to help you to decide which vaccines are right for your puppy or dog. Some of these non-core vaccines are also specific to certain locations where exposure to a disease is more common than in other parts of the world. If you are unsure whether or not a vaccine is absolutely necessary, talk to your vet, ask those questions. After all, both of you have the best for your dog in mind.

Core vaccines:

  • Canine distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Rabies

Non-core vaccines:

  • Measles
  • Respiratory disease (from canine adenovirus-2)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Bordet Ella
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus
  • Lyme Disease

Five week shots

At five weeks old is generally the time frame when most veterinarians suggest you get your pup his first vaccination. This going to be the shot to immunize your puppy against Parvovirus. It is unlikely that before five weeks of age your pup will have been exposed to this disease. Plus, the puppy is still nursing in the early weeks and the mother’s breast milk will help to keep the puppy healthy. If you are getting a puppy from a breeder it is extremely important that you ask them for proof of all the pup’s vaccinations and any other medical records.

Five week puppies waiting for shots

This is the only shot your puppy will get that is specifically to fight off parvo. In the future he will receive a booster for this through a combination vaccine. You will need to make sure your dog gets his booster shot every year for this vaccine to remain effective. The last thing you want is to hear that your poor puppy caught parvo because you waited an extra two months to get the vaccine! Check out our article on how to prevent and treat parvovirus in dogs — it’s a must-read.

Six and nine week shots

These shots may be taken care of by a breeder or a shelter depending on how old your puppy is when you bring him home. You should be sure to obtain their vaccination records so you can be 100% positive that your dog has been vaccinated. If you have brought your puppy home as early as six – nine weeks then you should be prepared to take him to the vet for the second round of shots. This is generally only a single combination shot, however depending on where you live your dog may also need a Coronavirus vaccine as well.

The combination vaccine is also known as a 5-Way-Vaccine that generally includes parvovirus, adenovirus cough, hepatitis, canine distemper and parainfluenza. This shot is standard and will immunize your dog against many common illnesses in non-vaccinated dogs. These combination shots are given at both six and nine weeks and neither dose should be skipped in order for the vaccination to be properly effective.

12 weeks (and older) shots

At this point there is only one more essential shot for you to provide your dog: the rabies shot. This is probably the most vital shot for your dog to receive as it is mandatory by each state. However, the particular laws in your state may not require a booster for the rabies shot as often as others, your vet will be able to tell you the best length of time to wait between vaccinations.

12 Week dog getting shots

The rabies shot has saved many lives both canine and human alike over the years. In some countries where rabies vaccines are not mandatory people are far more likely to experience death among both dogs and humans over the rabies virus. You can read our previous article to learn more about the deadly rabies and how to prevent it.

Once your dog has had the initial rabies shot as a pup, he will need a booster every one to three years. The duration between shots can depend on a number of factors including state law, the strength of the vaccine your vet is using, among other things you vet may ask about your dog’s lifestyle.

In most cases, the 12 week shots are the last round of “puppy” shots that you will need to worry about. From this point on, the best thing you can do for your dog is to

Adult booster shots

After those 12 week shots your dog is likely to be good-to-go on shots for the next year. However it is important that your dog gets booster shots for both the rabies and any combination shot that your vet gives out.

Dog vaccine

You may need to get these boosters once a year or once every other year. There may be a shorter or longer duration for different shots as well. If your dog was vaccinated with a non-core shot then the duration between boosters will likely be different from their other shots.

When it comes to how often your dog will need a booster your vet will be able to guide you on what is healthy and safe. As mentioned earlier, your individual state law will have some part in the decision making when it comes to the rabies vaccine – however this is for the safety of your dog, you and everyone else around. Rabies is nothing to take a risk on, after all!

Why vaccines are so important

Vaccines are just as important to your dog as they would be to your child. They help to fight off against diseases that can be extremely harmful and even fatal to your dog. After all, there is no cure for rabies and if your dog is bitten and not vaccinated then the disease is fatal 100% of the time.

Are vaccines important and expensive

This information is not meant to scare you rather than help you realize just how important it is for you to be sure your dog gets his initial vaccines as a puppy and boosters throughout his life. There is a lot of controversy going around on how often a dog needs to be vaccinated and the duration the shots are effective differs between different strengths of the vaccine and different breeds of dog.

If you want to see your pet live a long and healthy life, one of the simplest things you can do for him is to be sure he gets his vaccinations on time. Your vet will be able to tell you how often your dog will need boosters. For the rabies shot (which is mandated and regulated by state laws) it could be as often as once every 1-3 years. However for some non-core vaccines, like the one for kennel cough, need to be administered every six months to stay fully effective.

The benefits outweigh the risks

Many people fear vaccines and potential side effects – and this goes for vaccines for both pets and people alike. The thing is, the benefits are always going to outweigh the risks when it comes to these types of vaccines.

Risks are very minimal with these vaccines and generally, if there is any reaction at all, your pet’s skin may be irritated around the injection site. You may also find that they are less hungry than usual or more sleep than usual. This usually only lasts a day or so after the shot is given and if symptoms worsen or last longer than 48 hours you should contact your vet.

In extreme cases pets can be found to be allergic to the vaccine and have severe reactions. If this is the case contact your vet immediately – if it is off hours contact the closest emergency veterinarian. In most cases however, there is no reaction to these vaccines as they have been tested and provided for years.

Do my pets really need vaccines

What it really comes down to is looking at the numbers. The number of pets who had a bad reaction to a vaccine is much smaller than those whose lives were saved thanks to the vaccine. You would never want to see your furry friend suffering from (or dying from) any of the fatal diseases that dogs are prone to catching – so why not prevent it from happening in the first place?

From the time you bring your puppy home it is your responsibility to provide them with the highest quality of life possible. By getting your dog vaccinated you are providing them with a chance to fight off harmful diseases. Missing any of the “puppy” shots can be harmful to your dog’s long-term health.

If you got a puppy or dog and you are not sure if they were vaccinated then talk to your vet on the best course of action. Most of the time, they will tell you to go ahead and have the pup or dog revaccinated. The extra dose of the vaccine should not harm your dog in any way and it is better to be sure than to take a risk and not get them their shots!

In the end, it really comes down to being a responsible dog owner and talking with your vet to come up with the best vaccination schedule for your individual puppy or dog. Every vet does things a little bit differently – your dog’s vaccination schedule may not look exactly like the one we’ve outlined here – however it should look very similar! Here are more tips and guidelines on how to properly take care of your dog, it will really help you a lot.

Making sure that your dog gets all the needed vaccines is important to keep them in the best health possible throughout their life. If you want your furry friend around as a part of the family for years, don’t skip their shots!

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • LeahJacobySmith

    This is a legitimate question for most dog owners like myself. I’d like to know which vaccines are a must and which ones my dog can do without. Our dog is already 3 years old and had his rabies shot, Parvo shots and heartworm MEDs. She’s also been dewormed. What more does my dog need? Money is tight and I’m trying to stick to the basics.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Your dog is now due for revaccination for both Parvo and Rabies shot which are ideally scheduled every three years.

  • Tory Carpenter

    Who knows how much approximately is vaccination a small dog per year? I live in Atlanta. Thanks for the info!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      This varies from which veterinary center you’ll go and have your dog vaccinated. Usually it costs several hundred dollars every other year.

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