What Shots Do Puppies Need?

Dog Health October 27, 2023
What Shots Do Puppies Need?
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What Shots Do Puppies Need?

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What Shots Do Puppies Need?

Puppies require vaccinations just like humans do. Additionally, in order to maintain the efficacy of a dog vaccination, a booster shot may occasionally be necessary. It is best to follow the advice of your vet and keep your puppy’s vaccination schedule on track.

Your veterinarian will probably recommend vaccinations that are divided into two groups: mandatory pet vaccines and optional pet vaccines. Every puppy should receive the core dog vaccinations, whereas non-core vaccines may be suggested depending on your pup’s lifestyle.

For instance, if your dog is frequently boarded or only spends time outside, your veterinarian may advise certain non-core vaccinations.

When to Get Shots for Your Puppy

Between six and eight weeks old, puppies should receive their first vaccinations. As soon as you buy or adopt the puppy, get a copy of its medical records so your veterinarian will know what shots have been given and when the next one is due. Your veterinarian will then recommend a schedule based on the lifestyle you have in mind for your puppy and the risk of specific diseases based on where you live or travel.

The majority of vaccines are typically administered every 2–4 weeks until real protection is anticipated. Until your puppy is 16 to 20 weeks old, the Distemper/Parvo series may need 3 to 4 vaccinations, depending on your puppy’s age. Your vet may suggest a shorter series if your dog is older than 16 weeks old, isn’t currently on vaccinations, or if you’re unsure.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This bacterium is extremely contagious and can result in severe coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare instances, seizures and death. It is the main reason kennel cough occurs. There are vaccines available in nasal spray and injectable forms.

Proof of this vaccination will frequently be needed if you intend to board your puppy in the future, go to group training sessions, or use dog daycare services.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals. It spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted through shared food and water bowls and equipment. Eye and nasal discharges, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, frequently, death are all symptoms. Because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden, this illness was formerly known as “hard pad.”

Distemper has no known treatment. Supportive care and efforts to stop secondary infections, control vomiting and seizure symptoms, among other things, make up the course of treatment. It is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off if the animal endures the symptoms. The virus can persist in infected dogs for several months.

Canine Parainfluenza

This is one of many viruses that may be a factor in kennel cough.

Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and eyes of the affected dog. A virus unrelated to the human form of hepatitis causes this liver disease. The signs and symptoms can include mucous membrane congestion, low-grade fever, vomiting, jaundice, an enlarged stomach, and pain near the liver. Many dogs can be treated for the illness’ milder forms, but the severe ones can be fatal. Although there is no known cure, doctors can manage the symptoms.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that affects the upper airways. It is also referred to as infectious tracheobronchitis. It frequently involves multiple infections occurring at once and can be brought on by bacterial, viral, or other infections, including Bordetella and canine parainfluenza. 

The illness typically only results in brief episodes of harsh, dry coughing, but it can occasionally be severe enough to cause retching, gagging, and appetite loss. It can occasionally be fatal. It spreads quickly through kennels because it is so easily transferred between dogs kept in close quarters. Except in the most severe and persistent cases, antibiotics are typically not required. A dog may feel more at ease taking cough suppressants.


The virus that causes COVID-19 in humans is not the same as the canine coronavirus. There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes dogs sick, and it is not believed to pose a health risk to them. Although it can result in respiratory infections, canine coronavirus typically has an impact on dogs’ digestive systems. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. No medication can kill coronaviruses, but doctors can’t keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable or help with nausea.


When your puppy is between 12 and 16 weeks old, talk to your veterinarian about starting a heartworm preventive. Your veterinarian will recommend a heartworm medication that needs to be taken on a regular basis, even though there is no vaccine to prevent this illness.

These worms typically infest the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries, which carry blood to the lungs, though they can spread throughout the rest of the body and occasionally invade the liver and kidneys. The 14-inch-long worms have the ability to group together to obstruct and damage organs.

Although pups with advanced heartworm disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite, or have breathing difficulties, new heartworm infections frequently have no symptoms at all. After light exercise, infected dogs may become exhausted. Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, as opposed to the majority of the illnesses listed here, which are transmitted through urine, feces, and other bodily fluids. As a result, a blood test rather than a fecal exam is used to make the diagnosis.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection, unlike the majority of the illnesses on this list, and some dogs may not even exhibit any symptoms. Water and soil all over the world can harbor leptospirosis. It can be transmitted from animals to humans because it is a zoonotic disease. Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, extreme weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, and kidney failure (with or without liver failure) can all be symptoms when they do manifest. Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.

Lyme Disease

Dogs do not display the infamous “bull’s-eye” rash that people who have been exposed to Lyme disease frequently notice. An infectious, tick-borne illness known as Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is brought on by a spirochete, a type of bacteria. An infected dog frequently begins limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature increases, and he stops eating after contracting the tick-borne disease. If untreated, the illness can harm his joints, kidneys, heart, and other organs, as well as cause neurological disorders. A round of antibiotics is very beneficial if taken as prescribed, but relapses can happen months or even years later.


All dogs are susceptible to the highly contagious parvovirus, but unvaccinated animals and puppies under the age of four months are most at risk. The virus attacks the digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, fever, and frequently very severe, bloody diarrhea. In order to save a dog from extreme dehydration, which can kill them in 48 to 72 hours, immediate veterinary care is essential. Since there is no treatment, keeping the dog hydrated and managing the side effects can help him survive until his immune system recovers.


The symptoms of rabies, a virus that affects mammals, include a headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. The most common way for it to spread is through a rabid animal’s bite. Treatment must begin as soon as possible after infection; otherwise, death is very likely. Most states require regular rabies vaccinations. Consult your veterinarian for information on local rabies vaccination regulations.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

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Knowing when your pup needs to get vaccinations is useful. Here is a schedule of when your puppy should receive his vaccinations, broken down by 6–8 weeks, 10–12 weeks, and 14–16 weeks.

6-8 weeks

Puppies should receive their first vaccinations at around six to eight weeks old, when they start to wean themselves from their mothers. Find out which vaccines your puppy will need first below.


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


  • Bordetella
  • Parainfluenza

10-12 weeks

Your puppy needs to receive a booster dose of their core vaccine two to four weeks after their initial round of vaccinations. If they are at risk and your veterinarian suggests them, they can also receive a number of non-core vaccinations.


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


  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme

14-16 weeks

Your puppy should have received their final round of immunizations before reaching adulthood in another two to four weeks. They will receive a second DAP/DHP booster shot in addition to their first rabies shot. The final DAP vaccination is typically given by veterinarians at 16 weeks or later. Please check your state laws and follow them if your state mandates that your pup receive a rabies vaccination earlier than this time period.


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


  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme

When Do Puppies Need Booster Shots?

Avoiding booster shots can endanger your puppy. However, not all vaccinations demand annual boosters.

  • DHPP vaccine booster: every two weeks for a total of three sets, then every three years
  • Lepto, Canine influenza, and Lyme disease vaccine booster: one month after the initial series, then annually
  • Bordetella booster: 1 year (or every 6 months where there is a concern)
  • Rabies booster: every 1 to 3 years after the initial round, depending on state laws

Final Thoughts

Depending on your pup’s exposure to disease and the prevalent diseases in the area, the recommended vaccination schedule for each puppy may vary. The first thing you should do after getting your puppy is register him with a local veterinarian who can administer the necessary vaccinations. This is the best place to learn about the shots and treatments for your new puppy.


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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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