Vaccination Schedule For Dogs: Everything You Must Know

Vaccination Schedule For Dogs

Here’s a detailed guide to dog vaccinations, including key takeaways for pet owners:

Why Vaccinations Matter

  • Protection from serious diseases: Dog vaccines prevent potentially fatal infections like rabies, parvovirus, and distemper.
  • Rabies prevention for humans too: Rabies is transmissible to humans, making dog vaccination a public health concern.
  • Avoiding painful, expensive treatment: Treating illnesses like parvo is costly and often unsuccessful, while prevention is far cheaper and more humane.

Types of Dog Vaccines

  • Core Vaccines: Essential for ALL dogs due to how severe, widespread, and/or contagious the diseases are. Include:
    • Rabies
    • Parvovirus
    • Canine Hepatitis
    • Canine Distemper
  • Non-Core Vaccines: Only recommended based on your dog’s lifestyle and risk factors. Common ones include:
    • Canine Influenza (Dog Flu)
    • Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
    • Lyme Disease
    • Leptospirosis

Typical Puppy Vaccination Schedule

  • Start Early: 3 weeks onwards for some vaccines, but 6-8 weeks is most common for first shots.
  • Spacing is Key: Boosters occur every 2-4 weeks until the puppy is around 16 weeks old. This ensures strong immunity.
  • Typical Core Vaccines: Distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus (often combined into a DAP shot).
  • Follow-up: Around 6 months to 1 year old, boosters are given. Then, adult dogs may get them every 1-3 years depending on the vaccine.

Important Considerations

  • Rabies is MANDATORY: Laws vary between states, but all dogs MUST be up-to-date on rabies protection.
  • Geography and Lifestyle: Your vet will determine if non-core vaccines are needed based on your dog’s activities (kennel cough) and where you live (Lyme disease).
  • Safe Sources: Ensure your vet gets vaccines from reputable suppliers who handle them correctly to maintain effectiveness.

Key Takeaways

  • Vaccination is NOT optional. It’s responsible pet ownership.
  • Don’t fall for anti-vax myths – they endanger your dog and others.
  • Puppy shots are a series, not a one-and-done thing. Follow the vet’s schedule.
  • Adult dogs still need boosters to maintain their protection.
  • Work closely with your veterinarian to create the best vaccination plan for YOUR dog.

Additional Notes

  • Some dogs may have mild reactions to vaccines (tiredness, slight fever). These are usually temporary.
  • Serious allergic reactions are VERY rare, but vets will monitor your dog after their shots just in case.
  • Vaccination greatly reduces, but not completely eliminates, the chance of your dog getting sick.
  • Combining good hygiene practices with vaccines offers the best protection for your furry friend!

What Are Dog Vaccines And Why Are They Important?

The majority of people who often use the internet are aware of the current “anti-vax” movement. Proud “anti-vaxxers” decide not to vaccinate their children or themselves against preventable illnesses like polio and measles, primarily because of a debunked study that suggested vaccinations cause autism.

Unfortunately, pets are becoming part of the “anti-vax” campaign. In 2019, more dog owners are choosing not to vaccinate their pets, according to veterinarians worldwide. This trend is being caused, once again, by the myth that vaccines cause autism.

There is no doubt in science that choosing not to vaccinate your dog will have fatal results. Dogs that receive core vaccinations are shielded from deadly illnesses like rabies and canine parvovirus, which often cause the animals unimaginable agony and death.

If they are not identified and treated right away, dogs infected with canine parvovirus typically pass away 48 to 72 hours after showing symptoms for the first time. Even more deadly is rabies, for which there is no cure nor a therapy and which can only be identified post-mortem.

Even worse, rabies can be transmitted from diseased dogs to people. The average annual death toll from rabies is 59,000 in nations where vaccination is not required.

Vaccines assist in priming a dog’s immune system to protect itself against pathogen incursions. Vaccines contain antigens, which resemble pathogenic organisms in the immune system of dogs but do not cause disease in and of themselves.

What Are The Types Of Dog Vaccinations?

There are two types of immunizations for pets: core and non-core. It is advised that all pets receive the core immunizations. Vaccinations classified as non-core are those that physicians advise against based on a pet’s particular medical background and way of life.

Core Vaccines:

Certain viral diseases that affect dogs are so widespread, crippling, contagious, or have the potential to infect humans that immunization against them is considered to be absolutely necessary.

They consist of rabies, parvo, canine infectious hepatitis, and the canine distemper virus.

The “core” vaccinations are those that guard against certain illnesses. Usually, the first three are given together as a DA2P shot.

Based on a general risk of exposure, the seriousness of the illness, and the possibility of transmission to other dogs, humans, and other animal species, core puppy and dog immunizations are deemed essential for all canines.

The Canine Task Force of the American Animal Hospital Association believes that the following canine vaccines are essential:

  • Rabies
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Canine Distemper
  • Leptospirosis

Non-Core Vaccines:

Conversely, there are illnesses and ailments for which vaccines exist, but they are not always advised for every dog due to their limited geographic distribution (i.e., they don’t affect every region of the nation equally), lesser severity, particular lifestyle risk factors, or other factors.

Non-core vaccinations consist of

  • Canine Influenza (dog flu)
  • Bordetella
  • Lyme vaccine

These vaccinations are crucial for the majority of dogs who may be exposed to these infectious diseases, even though they are not regarded as Core.

We will be pleased to discuss which of the aforementioned options makes the most sense for your dog and offer the necessary advice during their upcoming consultation.

In the majority of states, including Florida, rabies vaccines are mandated by law.

Owners are required to vaccinate their dogs and puppies against rabies on a regular basis; however, each state has different deadlines for dog and puppy vaccinations.

The puppy rabies immunization in Florida is normally administered at 16 weeks, with the vaccination expiring after 15 weeks.

The rabies vaccination for adult dogs is valid for three years and ought to be discussed during the initial appointment for new patients.

For instance, a puppy would be vaccinated against rabies at 16 weeks, 1 year, and then again at 4 years of age.

When To Start Vaccinations?

Generally speaking, a puppy should begin receiving vaccinations as soon as it is acquired (typically between 6 and 8 weeks), and it should then have shots every three weeks until it is about 4 months old, at which point it will receive its last round.

In general, the puppy will most likely get antibodies in the mother’s milk during nursing if the mother has a strong immune system.

Vaccinations ought to start as soon as a puppy has been weaned off of its mother’s milk.

Why Is Puppy Vaccine Timing Important?

Each puppy is unique. It’s possible that a puppy in a litter of three was able to get more colostrum the “first milk” high in antibodies from their mother than a dog in a litter of thirteen, which would have improved their immunity.

That might not always be the case, though, if the mother of the three-puppy litter wasn’t well vaccinated, didn’t make quality milk, or didn’t nurse her puppies well.

In a similar vein, certain puppies are born with immune system deficits, or their immune systems may grow more slowly due to nutritional or other circumstances.

Puppy shots are given as a series of initial shots and booster shots over the course of the first few months of a puppy’s life because we can never be 100% certain of a puppy’s starting immune status, including how well they are initially protected by their mother immunity or how well their immune system will respond to the vaccines we’re administering.

This allows us to provide the best level of protection to the greatest number of puppies in the greatest number of situations.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule:

Puppies can have their first vaccines as early as three weeks old, depending on the type of vaccine being given.

The first vaccinations are often given to puppies between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks.

The WSAVA’s canine vaccination guidelines provide the following breakdown of when your dog should get vaccinated based on their age:

3 Weeks Old:

At three weeks of age, young puppies residing in areas where bordetella is endemic are eligible to get a single dose of the vaccination.

Depending on the bacteria strain used in the vaccine, some Bordetella shots must be given to a child aged 6 to 8 weeks.

6-8 Weeks:

Your puppy will receive the first dose of the following immunizations between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks:

  • Parvovirus vaccine (core)
  • Adenovirus vaccine (core)
  • Distemper vaccine (core)
  • Parainfluenza virus (non-core)
  • Canine influenza virus (non-core)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (non-core)
  • Leptospirosis (non-core)

10-12 Weeks Old:

The following vaccinations will be given to your dog in subsequent doses every two to four weeks until the puppy is about sixteen weeks old, depending on when they received their first set of shots:

  • Parvovirus vaccine (core)
  • Adenovirus vaccine (core)
  • Distemper vaccine (core)
  • Parainfluenza vaccine (non-core)

Your dog will also receive a second dose between the ages of 10 and 12 weeks if they had the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccination.

The following vaccinations will be given to your dog for the first time at 12 weeks of age:

  • Rabies
  • The non-core strain of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi

6 Months-1 Year Old:

By 16 weeks of age, your dog will typically have received all of its basic vaccinations. It’s then time for follow-up shots.

The following booster shots can be given to a child when they are six months or a year old:

  • Parvovirus vaccine (core)
  • Distemper vaccine (core)
  • Adenovirus (core)
  • Parainfluenza (non-core)

Common Dog Vaccinations:

Asking questions about the origins of the immunizations and their handling before administration is crucial if your puppy’s vaccinations were not given by a doctor.

This is due to the fact that unregulated individuals and organizations like veterinarians purchase vaccines from sources that might not be adequately trained to handle them.

They might permit the vaccinations to warm up, which would render them inactive.

Alternately, individuals transfer them without maintaining a temperature or leaving them in a car for an extended period of time.

Essentially, the vaccines are ineffective in each of these situations.

DAP Vaccine (Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus):

Dogs are protected against canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus type 2, and canine distemper with the DAP combo vaccine.

Each of the three illnesses is extremely contagious and dangerous.


This virus affects not only the skin but also the gastrointestinal, neurological, and respiratory systems.

Lethargy, runny nose and eyes, appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, thicker skin on the nose and footpads, coughing, breathing difficulties, convulsions, and paralysis are some of the symptoms.

Adenovirus type-2:

The canine adenovirus type 2 vaccination protects against a type of kennel cough and against a potentially lethal form of liver illness.


This virus causes diarrhea, vomiting, suppression of the bone marrow, and in rare cases, heart failure.

If treatment is not aggressive, death is likely from serious infections.

Puppies should get their first dose of the DAP vaccine between the ages of 6 and 8 weeks.

Up until the puppy is 16–20 weeks old, boosters are administered every 2-4 weeks.

These booster shots are necessary, or the immunity from the mother’s milk could negate the benefits of the immunizations.

At one year old, a second DAP booster is also required.

After this, the vaccination usually confers immunity that lasts for at least three years.

Vaccine titers can be performed and booster shots administered as needed, or boosters can be administered on a three-year schedule.

Currently, the majority of regulatory bodies do not recognize a titer of the rabies vaccine as a replacement for immunization.

Rabies Vaccine:

The central nervous system is attacked by the deadly virus that causes rabies, which is typically spread by an animal’s bite.

Skunks, bats, and coyotes are among the wildlife that commonly carry the virus.

Since there is no cure for canine rabies, prevention is essential.

The first vaccination window for a dog is specified by state legislation and the label of the vaccine, however, it is often around 12 weeks of age.

After a year, a booster shot is needed. Boosters may be administered annually or every three years, depending on your location and the type of vaccination being used.

Leptospirosis Vaccine:

The disease leptospirosis is brought on by a Leptospira bacterium infection. Dogs typically get sick with Leptospira when they play in the water or go near areas where other animals have urinated. Animals can transmit leptospirosis to humans.

Leptospira bacteria can cause fever, conjunctivitis, poor appetite, upset stomach, kidney, and/or liver failure once they enter the body.

Vaccinations against leptospirosis only provide a portion of the disease’s defense, and your dog’s chance of contracting the germs may be minimal depending on where you live or travel.

It is more common in regions that are warm and rainy. Your veterinarian will give two initial vaccinations, spaced 2-4 weeks apart, and yearly boosters if necessary.

Kennel Cough and Flu Vaccinations:

Adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus, and/or Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria are a few of the causes of kennel cough.

Conversely, influenza viruses alone are the source of canine flu, with H3N8 and H3N2 being the most prevalent strains in dogs.

All of these microorganisms cause comparable symptoms when they infect people, such as fever, decreased appetite, labored breathing, coughing, and nasal discharge.

Canine flu and kennel cough are more common in dogs who are agitated or frequently attend dog parks, daycare centers, or boarding facilities.

The type of vaccine administered and factors unique to each patient determine the vaccination schedule.

For instance, two doses of canine influenza vaccines are administered 2-4 weeks apart to dogs 6-8 weeks of age or older, but intranasal Bordetella vaccinations can be administered to puppies as early as 3–4 weeks of age and are effective after a single dosage.

If the dog’s risk of illness persists, annual boosters for each of these vaccinations are typically advised.

Lyme Disease Vaccine (Borrelia Burgdorferi):

Lyme disease is a tick-borne sickness that can cause arthritis, enlarged lymph nodes, and in rare cases, renal damage.

Ticks often need to be linked to a dog for 36 to 48 hours in order to spread Lyme disease. Not every dog with an infection has symptoms that can be seen.

Since Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeast, upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and along the Pacific coast, geography plays a significant role in the development of this vaccine.

The best line of defense against Lyme disease and other infections spread by ticks is to prevent ticks.

Your veterinarian will administer two vaccinations, spaced 2-4 weeks apart, along with yearly boosters, if your dog is extremely susceptible to infection.

Other Vaccines:

There are additional dog vaccines available. For instance, dogs who live in places where there is a significant risk of bites from western diamondback rattlesnakes can receive a rattlesnake vaccination.

Although there is a canine coronavirus vaccine, it is generally not advised because the illness the virus causes is minor and usually manifests in very young puppies, who are not yet old enough to get vaccinations.


Dog vaccinations boost their immune systems and shield them from common illnesses, allowing them to live long, healthy lives. Your puppy will receive a series of core vaccines between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks, as well as any additional non-core immunizations that your veterinarian may recommend.

Following your puppy’s immunization schedule is crucial if you want to avoid having to start again if too much time has passed between shots.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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