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Dog vaccination schedule: Which shots they need and when

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Whether you just purchased a new puppy or adopted an adult dog, one of the most important responsibilities you’ll have as a pet owner is to make sure your animal is safe and healthy. Staying up-to-date on your dog’s vaccinations is crucial to protecting them against diseases, infections and even the bite of some parasites — but it’s not always easy to know which vaccines your pet actually needs.

To help you stay current on your dog’s shots, we’ve put together a dog and puppy vaccination schedule to guide you as your dog grows up. Follow along with this guide for a rundown of when your dog needs shots, which shots are required and which are optional, and what vaccines your pet insurance may cover.

Don’t forget to keep good records of their immunization history with our printable puppy and dog vaccine schedules below.

When do puppies get shots?

Most veterinarians recommend that puppies get their first vaccines at six to eight weeks — around the time you bring them home after weaning. After their first round of shots, your puppy should have additional booster shots every two to four weeks until they’re about 16 weeks old.

What shots do puppies need?

All puppies need shots starting at six to eight weeks, but only core vaccines are usually required. A core vaccine is considered vital protection for your pet based on the severity of the disease, high risk of exposure or ability to transmit to humans. Non-core vaccines are not essential for all pets and only essential if your pet is more likely to have higher exposure, like at a kennel.

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Puppy vaccine chart
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Core vaccines for puppies

The main core vaccines your puppy will need are for rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis) and parvovirus. Find out more about the viruses they protect against below.


Canine distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis) and parvovirus

Veterinarians typically give the canine distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis) and parvovirus vaccine (DAP/DHP) in one shot. DAP/DHP protects against the following three separate viruses.

  • Canine distemper virus (CDV) is highly contagious, and puppies with this infection may experience symptoms in their skin, as well as their immune, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Puppies younger than 20 weeks are highly vulnerable to CDV, and it can be fatal.
  • Canine adenovirus, or hepatitis, is the inflammation of the liver. Young dogs have the greatest risk of contracting the virus.
  • Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that targets a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and requires hospitalization. Without treatment, the survival rate is less than 10%.


Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of all mammals. Symptoms in dogs include aggression, fever, excessive drooling, staggering or paralysis. Infected animals transmit rabies through the saliva — typically through a bite. It has no cure or treatment available and has serious fatal consequences.

H2: Optional vaccines for puppies
Although your puppy is only required to get the core vaccines listed above, they may also need some of the following immunizations based on their risk of exposure, location and lifestyle.

Optional vaccines for puppies

Although your puppy is only required to get the core vaccines listed above, they may also need some of the following immunizations based on their risk of exposure, location and lifestyle.


Bordetella

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that causes the respiratory disease Bordetella. It is highly contagious and results in the inflammation of the bronchi and trachea. It’s a common cause of canine or kennel cough, and a vaccine is required if you plan to board your dog or take it to a training school or daycare.


Canine parainfluenza virus

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPV) is one of the most common causes of canine cough. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lack of appetite and loss of energy. Your dog may be at risk for this disease if they’re around other dogs often, and this vaccine can help protect them from this illness. Some examples of when your dog would be exposed are if your dog competes in competitions, boards at a kennel or doggy daycare or visits the dog park or the groomers often.


Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a disease that results from Leptospira bacterial infection. In dogs, it can range from mild illness to death, and symptoms include fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure — with or without accompanying liver failure. Dogs can also transmit this disease to humans.

Leptospirosis is transmitted through infected urine, tissues or a bite from another animal. Your dog is at risk of encountering this bacteria if they are swimming or drinking from a lake, river or stream. Also, if they roam around rural areas and have a chance of encountering wild animals or farm animals.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease arises from an infection with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, and the bacteria transmits through the bite of infected ticks. Common symptoms are swollen lymph nodes and joints, fatigue, lameness and lack of appetite.

Although a dog can get this disease anywhere in the United States, ticks infected with Lyme disease are more common in the Pacific coast, the upper Midwest and the Northeast of the country. Because ticks may attach to your dog after they brush against tall grasses or brush, this vaccine is important if you tend to explore woods and marshes with your pup.

Canine influenza

Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a respiratory disease that causes symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, fever, or lethargy. In severe cases, it may result in pneumonia and even death. This disease is spread via the respiratory system, through infected sneezes or coughs from other dogs. If your dog is going to be around other dogs at a kennel or just came from a shelter, it may be wise to immunize them for this disease.

Puppy vaccination schedule

Now that you’re aware of all the different vaccines for puppies, it’s helpful to know when your dog should get them. You can find a scheduled timeline for when your puppy should get its shots broken down by 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 14-16 weeks. To help you stay on top of all their shots, try out our printable puppy vaccine tracker below.

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New puppy vaccination tracker
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6-8 weeks

Puppies become weaned from their mothers at around six to eight weeks old, and this is the recommended time for them to get their first shots. Find out which vaccines your puppy will need first below.

Core:

  • DAP/DHP (canine distemper, adenovirus/hepatitis, parvovirus)

Non-core:

  • Bordetella
  • Parainfluenza


10-12 weeks

Two to four weeks after your puppy’s first round of shots, they’ll need to get a booster of their core vaccine. They can also get a variety of non-core shots if they’re at risk and your vet recommends them.

Core:

  • DAP/DHP (canine distemper, adenovirus/hepatitis, parvovirus)

Non-core:

  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme

 

14-16 weeks

In another two to four weeks, your puppy should finish their last round of vaccinations until they reach adulthood. They’ll get their rabies shot for the first time and another DAP/DHP booster. Vets generally prefer to give the final DAP vaccine at 16 weeks or later. Additionally, your state may require your pet to get a rabies vaccine earlier than this time period, so please check your state laws and adhere to that schedule.

Core:

  • DAP/DHP (canine distemper, adenovirus/hepatitis, parvovirus)
  • Rabies

Non-core:

  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme
 dog-vaccination-schedule

What shots do adult dogs need?

As your dog grows into an adult, they’ll still need the same shots they had as puppies, but they’ll need them less frequently. Core shots for an adult dog consist of the rabies and DAP/DHP vaccines. All other immunizations are non-core as an adult canine.

Adult dog vaccination schedule

Reference the following adult dog vaccination schedule to know when to bring your furry friend for their shots. You can also keep up-to-date records with our printable dog vaccine tracker.

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Adult dog vaccine tracker
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Annually

Whenever you take your dog for their annual vet visit, you can ask about what boosters or other shots they may need. Below, you can find the core and non-core vaccines dogs need every year.

Core:

  • Rabies

Non-core:

  • Bordetella
  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme


Every three years

Once your dog is an adult, they’ll only need the DAP/DHP vaccine every three years. Your vet will typically send reminders for which shots your dog needs, but the following list is also a good general reference.

Core:

  • DAP/DHP*

Does pet insurance cover vaccines?

Most pet insurance provides coverage for unexpected accidents, illnesses and injuries, but routine care and vaccinations are not typically covered. The average cost for a dog’s vaccine is anywhere between $15-$30 per shot. Over the first year of your dog’s life, keeping your pup up-to-date on all their core shots will cost you around $75-$150.

These costs will only build up over the course of your dog’s long and happy life, so it’s important to consider getting comprehensive coverage or a wellness plan to cover your pet’s regular veterinary care. Comprehensive pet insurance usually covers routine shots, but you may have to pay out of pocket for any non-core vaccinations.

Despite these costs, keeping your dog current on their vaccinations is well worth it. A vaccinated dog has protection from getting sick, and it can even help them stay healthy if they develop pre-existing conditions down the line.

 Types-of-pet-insurance-that-cover-vaccines

Dogs are more than just pets — they’re family. Just like you would strive to keep your family safe and healthy, all pet owners have a responsibility to prioritize their dog’s health. While protecting their health means making sure you have pet insurance to cover emergencies, it also means that you’re maintaining routine veterinary care for them.

One essential aspect of routine vet care is to make sure they’re always current on their vaccinations. To help any pet parent stay on top of their dog’s shots, use the dog vaccination schedule in this post and download the printable vaccine trackers to keep for your records.

 

Source: ASPCA

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Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebra a year. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's Resource Center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.

Susan's work has been cited by the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm, BuzzfeedCBS, Yahoo, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.