Puppy getting vaccinated at vet’s office

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As a pet parent, getting your puppy vaccinated is one of the most important things you can do to keep them healthy. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and other medical issues that can lead to serious complications in dogs, including parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. So, what vaccines do puppies need, and at what age do puppies need their vaccinations?

Many crucial vaccines are administered at a young age, which means it’s essential to get your puppy vaccinated before they’re fully grown. This is because the diseases you’re vaccinating against can be a lot worse for puppies, especially for smaller breeds. When you get a new puppy, you should consult your vet about vaccinations and other things you can do to keep them healthy.

So, what vaccinations do puppies need and when do they need them? 

In this article, we’ll talk about the common vaccines that puppies need, including optional vaccines that you may choose to get. What vaccines do puppies need? Keep reading to find out.

Puppy Vaccine Schedule

When you get a new puppy, there are certain things you need to stay on top of to make sure they’re growing and developing at a healthy rate. This includes sticking to a puppy vaccine schedule, that way your puppy is protected against diseases that can take a serious toll on them when they’re young. This vaccine schedule includes vaccines for distemper, parvovirus, and both DHPP and rabies. There are also optional vaccines that your vet may recommend for your puppy.

Distemper (6-8 weeks)

1. Distemper (6-8 weeks)

Canine distemper is a disease caused by a virus that affects your dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. In many cases, distemper is fatal. What’s even more concerning about distemper is the fact that it’s highly contagious, so getting your puppy vaccinated is important. 

Some of the symptoms of distemper include:

  • Diphasic fever
  • Low white blood cell count
  • GI and respiratory distress
  • Neurological complications

In order to prevent distemper infections, it’s crucial to get your puppy vaccinated with a modified-live virus vaccine when they’re 6-8 weeks old, with additional vaccines being administered every 3 to 4 weeks after that until your puppy is about 16 weeks old.1

Parvovirus (6-8 weeks)

2. Parvovirus (6-8 weeks)

Parvovirus is another highly contagious virus that can have serious effects on young dogs that aren’t vaccinated. When parvovirus infects young, unvaccinated puppies, it often leads to GI disease that can cause symptoms including vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia. Other symptoms include hemorrhagic diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain and bloating. Parvovirus is diagnosed through a physical examination and fecal antigen testing, and there’s no cure for parvo once your dog gets it.

However, parvovirus can be prevented by getting your puppy vaccinated. Puppies should be vaccinated for parvovirus with a modified-live vaccine when they’re 6-8 weeks old, 10-12 weeks old, and 14-16 weeks old. A year after this last shot, you should take your dog in for a booster shot. After this one-year booster, you should take your dog in every three years to get them another parvovirus booster shot.2

DHPP (8-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, 16-18 months)

3. DHPP (8-12 weeks, 14-16 weeks, 16-18 months)

DHPP doesn’t actually refer to a single disease or virus that affects dogs, but a series of them. DHPP stands for distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parainfluenza, and parvovirus, which are four of the biggest concerns when it comes to puppy vaccinations. While your puppy needs to get individual distemper and parvovirus vaccines when they’re 6-8 weeks old, the 2nd and 3rd shots for distemper and parvo come from the DHPP vaccine.

While the first DHPP shorts are administered as the 2nd and 3rd series for distemper and parvo, your puppy also needs a DHPP shot every 1-2 years after that. Canine hepatitis is highly contagious and may be seen in wild animals including foxes, bears, and coyotes as well as dogs. Periodic outbreaks can lead to serious problems for pet parents, so continuous vaccination is important.3

Rabies (16-18 weeks, 12-16 months, 1-3 years)

4. Rabies (16-18 weeks, 12-16 months, 1-3 years)

Rabies is one of the biggest concerns for pet parents because it’s often fatal and there’s no cure for rabies. These rabies infections occur when an animal with rabies, including raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes, comes into contact with your dog.

So, what vaccines do puppies need to protect against rabies? Typically, puppies are given a rabies vaccine when they’re 16-18 weeks old, with a second shot coming when they’re 12-16 months old and a third shot when they’re 1-3 years old. The rabies vaccine is an inactive/killed virus, so there’s no risk of your dog being infected with rabies from getting vaccinated. Rabies vaccines need to be boostered every 1-3 years.

In most states, rabies vaccines are required by law because they help protect your dog as well as any cats and dogs they come in contact with.4

List of optional vaccines

Optional Vaccines

In addition to the standard vaccinations for puppies, there are also several optional vaccines that you may choose to have administered. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common optional vaccines:

  • Bordetella: A bordetella vaccine at 10-12 weeks can help prevent kennel cough infections, so you might want to consider this vaccine if your puppy is going to be in a boarding facility or training group often.
  • Influenza: The influenza vaccine can help prevent the flu and keep households of dogs from getting each other sick. However, it’s still important to practice good hygiene, such as separating sick dogs from healthy dogs until they get better.
  • Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a serious infectious disease that can lead to organ failure and even death in dogs. Leptospirosis is transmitted in the urine of infected animals. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, a leptospirosis vaccine is recommended.
  • Lyme: Lyme disease comes from infected ticks, which means farm dogs and dogs who spend a lot of time outdoors are at higher risk. If you take your dog hunting or live on a farm, consider getting your dog vaccinated for Lyme.
  • Coronavirus: You can get your puppy vaccinated for coronavirus if you’re worried about that. However, it’s important to talk to your vet about the two types of canine coronavirus and which vaccine is right for your pup.
  • Puppy Vaccinations: FAQs

    Which puppy vaccinations are legally required?

    The primary goal of puppy vaccinations is to prevent infectious diseases and keep your puppy healthy. While it’s important to make sure your puppy is properly vaccinated when they need to be, there’s no law regarding most vaccinations. In fact, the rabies vaccine is the only one that’s required in most states because rabies can easily spread from infected dogs to healthy dogs. 

    While several vaccines aren’t required, it’s smart to take steps to be proactive about your puppy’s health.

    What are the side effects of puppy vaccines?

    You may be wondering if your puppy will experience any side effects after being vaccinated. While side effects vary for every dog, the most common side effects of puppy vaccines include lethargy, a low-grade fever, and a bit of swelling and discomfort in the area where the shot was administered. These symptoms typically go away quickly and without medical intervention, so you shouldn’t have anything serious to worry about.

    How much do puppy vaccinations cost?

    On average, it will cost between $75 and $100 to get your puppy vaccinated. This includes the core vaccines your dog news, including distemper, hepatitis, parvo, and parainfluenza. You’ll also need to vaccinate your dog for rabies, which should cost another $15 to $20.5

    Keep in mind that these prices may vary depending on where you live and where you go to get your puppy vaccinated. You can always call around to figure out who offers affordable vaccines for puppies in your area.

    Puppy licking owner’s face

    Final Notes

    It’s your job to protect your dog as a pet parent, and that means getting them vaccinated when they’re young. So, what vaccines do puppies need to go outside? Your puppy should be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. In most states, your puppy is also legally required to get a rabies vaccine, which they should have even if it’s not required.

    If you’re confused about vaccinating your puppy and getting them prepared for adulthood, Dutch can help. With Dutch, you can connect with vets online to get expert advice from the comfort of your home. We can help you figure out which vaccines your puppy needs and where to get them. If you need a more convenient way to get vet help, try Dutch today.


    1. Creevy, Kate E. “Canine Distemper Overview - Generalized Conditions.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/canine-distemper/canine-distemper-overview

    2. Gallagher, Alex. “Canine Parvovirus - Digestive System.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/canine-parvovirus

    3. Creevy, Kate E. “Overview of Infectious Canine Hepatitis - Generalized Conditions.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/infectious-canine-hepatitis/overview-of-infectious-canine-hepatitis

    4. Rupprecht, Charles E. “Rabies - Nervous System.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/nervous-system/rabies/rabies.

    5. Staff, AKC. “A Complete Guide to Puppy Vaccinations.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 14 Jan. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/puppy-shots-complete-guide/.

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