Puppy and Dog Vaccinations: A Schedule for Every Life Stage (2024)

Dog vaccinations are critical to ensuring your four-legged friend stays healthy from puppyhood into their senior years. Vaccines are the safest and most cost-effective way to protect your dog from many infectious preventable diseases.

The science behind canine vaccinations has progressed significantly over the past decade, enhancing both their safety and efficacy against existing and emerging pathogens. Here’s why vaccinating a dog is important.

What Are the Common Dog Vaccinations?

Dog vaccinations are split into two general categories: core vaccines and noncore vaccines.

Puppy and Dog Vaccinations: A Schedule for Every Life Stage (1)

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are required for all dogs and puppies. Core vaccines include:

  • Canine distemper/adenovirus-2 (hepatitis)/parvovirus/parainfluenza vaccine (given as one vaccine, commonly referred to as DA2PP, DHPP, or DAPP)

  • Rabies virus vaccine

Noncore Vaccines

Noncore vaccines (also called lifestyle vaccines) are considered optional and given based on factors such as your pet’s lifestyle and where you live. Several noncore vaccines protect against highly contagious or potentially life-threatening diseases.

To determine which lifestyle vaccines are appropriate for your dog, your vet will look at a variety of factors, including:

  • Geographic location and risk of disease in these areas

  • Whether your pet goes to doggy day care, dog parks, or boarding or grooming facilities

  • Whether your pet’s lifestyle includes traveling, going on hikes, or being exposed to wilderness or bodies of water

  • The overall health of your pet

Noncore vaccines include:

Puppy Vaccine Schedule

For puppy vaccines to provide necessary protection, they’re given every two to four weeks until a puppy is at least 16 weeks old. Some dogs in high-risk areas may benefit from receiving the last vaccines around 18–20 weeks old.

Here’s an example of what a typical puppy shot schedule looks like:


Core Vaccines

Noncore Vaccines





Parainfluenza(oftenincludedin DAP combo vaccine)






Canine influenza



DAP (vets prefer givingfinal DAP vaccineat 16 weeks or later)

Rabies vaccine (may be

given earlier if

required by law)



Canine influenza

*DAP (Distemper, Adenovirus/Hepatitis, Parvovirus. Sometimes also referred to as DHP or DHPP if parainfluenza is included.)

Ultimately, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to identify the appropriate schedule for puppy vaccines for your specific pet.

Adult Dog Vaccine Schedule

Adult dogs need their core vaccines (DAP and rabies vaccines) in addition to any noncore vaccines decided upon between you and your veterinarian. A dog vaccination schedule for an adult dog may look like this:


Core Vaccines

Noncore Vaccines

Annual vaccines for


Rabies (initial vaccine)



Canine influenza

Bordetella (sometimes given

every 6 months)

Dog vaccines given

every 3 years


Rabies (after initial vaccine,

given every 3 years)

No 3-year noncore vaccines are available at this time.

Ultimately, your veterinarian will determine how long a vaccine will work for your pet.

If your dog is overdue or if it’s their first time getting a vaccine, your vet may recommend a booster vaccine or an annual schedule so your pet is fully protected.

What Diseases Do Dog Vaccines Prevent?

Keeping up with your dog vaccinations is the best way to protect your pup from many different illnesses, including:


Rabiesis a virus that causes neurologic disease that is fatal for domestic pets, wildlife, and people. It’s most notably transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. If your dog has rabies, it can be transmitted to you or other people through bite wounds.

The rabies vaccine is required by law in the U.S. And despite the excellent vaccination system we have, there are still animals and people that come down with rabies every year.

Due to the fatality and zoonosis (meaning it can be transmitted from animals to people) associated with rabies, there are legal ramifications if your pet is not current on their rabies vaccine. Therefore, it is very important to keep your pet up to date.

It’s important to consult with your veterinarian to identify the appropriate schedule for puppy vaccines for your specific pet.

If an unvaccinated dog or a pet that’s past due for their rabies vaccine is exposed to a potentially rabid animal or accidentally bites someone, it may result in health concerns, the need to quarantine your pet, or humane euthanasia in certain circ*mstances.

Distemper/Adenovirus (Hepatitis)/Parvovirus (DAP)

The DAP vaccine protects against a combination of diseases that can spread quickly among dogs and have serious implications for canines, including severe illness and death.

  • Canine distemperis a devastating disease that is highly contagious in unvaccinated dogs and can result in severe neurologic signs, pneumonia, fever, encephalitis, and death.

  • Adenovirus 1is an infectious viral disease that is also known as infectious canine hepatitis. It causes upper respiratory tract infections as well as fever, liver failure, kidney failure, and ocular disease.

  • Parvovirusin puppies is particularly contagious and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration, and death in severe cases.

Oftentimes, the noncore parainfluenza virus is also combined in this vaccine, changing the vaccine’s name to DAPP or DHPP.

Bordetella and Canine Parainfluenza

Bordetella and canine parainfluenza virus are two agents associated with a highly contagious cough commonly known askennel cough, or canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC).

Diseases from these agents typically resolve on their own but sometimes can lead to pneumonia or more severe respiratory disease. Because kennel cough is so contagious, boarding and doggy day care facilities across the U.S. require your pet to have this vaccine.

Parainfluenza may or may not be included in a combination vaccine with Bordetella or the DAP.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenzain the U.S. is caused by two identified strains of the virus: H3N2 and H3N8. It is highly contagious and causes cough, nasal discharge, and low-grade fever in dogs.

Outbreaks in the U.S. draw a lot of attention, as influenza viruses can give rise to new flu strains that have the potential to affect other species and possibly cause death.

Typically, the canine influenza vaccines are recommended for dogs that go to day care, boarding, the groomer, or any place where they will be among other dogs. Discuss with your vet if this vaccine is recommended for your pet.

Leptospirosis Disease

Leptospirosisis a bacterial disease that can cause severe kidney or liver failure in both dogs and people. It’s transmitted via the urine of infected animals and is found in both rural and urban settings.

This vaccine is considered core in geographic locations where leptospirosis occurs, but it’s not considered universally a core vaccine. Dogs can be exposed to this illness by licking or coming in contact with a contaminated puddle or body of water where an infected animal has urinated.

Though traditionally, the leptospirosis vaccine was recommended to dogs in rural areas with outdoorsy lifestyles, leptospirosis has now been found to occur in suburban and urban settings, too. The city of Boston experienced an outbreak in 2018 likely due to urine of infected city rats.

Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people as well. Talk to your vet about whether they recommend this vaccine for your pet. The vaccine covers four of the most common serovars of leptospirosis, and the initial vaccine must be boostered two to four weeks later, and then annually thereafter.

Lyme Disease

Lyme diseaseis a tick-borne disease caused by theBorrelia burgdorferibacteria that can cause fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, shifting leg lameness, and kidney failure in severe cases.

Lyme disease is endemic in various areas around the country (such as the northeast, northern Midwest, and Pacific coast), and the vaccine is recommended in these areas and for dogs traveling to places with high rates of the disease. Discuss with your vet if this vaccine is recommended for your pet.

Like leptospirosis, the vaccine is initially given as two injections spaced three to four weeks apart, and then yearly after that.

Puppy and Dog Vaccinations: A Schedule for Every Life Stage (2)

Which Dog Vaccines Does My Pet Need?

It’s important to discuss your dog’s lifestyle with your veterinarian so that they can make appropriate recommendations for which vaccines are necessary to protect your dog.

Apart from the necessary core vaccines, there is no one-size-fits-all protocol for vaccinating your dog.Working together with your veterinarian is the best approach to developing the right dog vaccine schedule for your beloved pet.

How Much Do Dog and Puppy Vaccines Cost?

Vaccines are an essential part of dog and puppy care, and it is important to budget appropriately for them especially when getting a new puppy. Puppies typically get several different vaccines, often with boosters. But once they have been fully vaccinated will transition to an adult vaccine schedule of annually or even every three years for some vaccines. So, while getting a puppy started on vaccines may be an investment, this financial obligation will decrease during adulthood.

Vaccine costs may vary depending on where you live. Typically, the basic DHPP vaccine can cost about $25 per shot, while the rabies vaccine may be around $15–20. Other non-core vaccine prices can vary, but are generally less than $100 per shot.

To help offset the cost of vaccines, many local animal shelters or humane societies will have low-cost or even free vaccine clinics. Your veterinarian may be able to help identify these local options. Additionally, pet insurance may be a good way to help offset these costs. Many insurance carriers will have wellness or preventative care plans to cover some (or all!) of the core and non-core vaccines.

Can Pets Have Adverse Reactions to Vaccines?

Dogs can haveadverse reactions to canine vaccinations, medications, and even natural vitamins and supplements. These incidents are rare, but because they do occur, it’s important to monitor your pet after their vaccine appointment.

It’s common for dog vaccines to cause mild reactions, including discomfort or swelling at the injection site. Dogs may also develop a mild fever or have decreased energy and appetite for the day. But if any of these signs persist for longer than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.

More serious side effects can occur within minutes to hours of the vaccination. Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet shows any of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Swelling of the muzzle around the face and neck

  • Coughing

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Itchy skin

  • Hives

These reactions are much less common but can be life-threatening. Before your veterinarian administers any animal vaccines, alert them if your pet has had a reaction in the past.

Featured Image: iStock.com/pekic


Monica Tarantino, DVM


Dr. Monica Tarantino is a small animal veterinarian and pet parent educator. She's on a mission to help senior cats and dogs around the...

Puppy and Dog Vaccinations: A Schedule for Every Life Stage (2024)


Puppy and Dog Vaccinations: A Schedule for Every Life Stage? ›

After the puppy series, we re-vaccinate the patient when a year has passed. For rabies and distemper, we would go for an every-three-year protocol after the one-year booster. The Leptospirosis, Bordatella, influenza, and Lyme are done annually. Thank you for listening.

What is the proper vaccination schedule for a dog from puppy to adulthood? ›

Puppy vaccination schedule
VaccineCore or non-coreAge at first dose
Distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHPP or DAPP)Core6-8 weeks
RabiesCoreAs required by law
BordetellaNon-core9-12 weeks
LeptospirosisNon-core>12 weeks
1 more row

How many vaccines do dogs need in their life? ›

After the puppy series, we re-vaccinate the patient when a year has passed. For rabies and distemper, we would go for an every-three-year protocol after the one-year booster. The Leptospirosis, Bordatella, influenza, and Lyme are done annually. Thank you for listening.

At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog? ›

At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog? Senior dogs do not generally stop requiring vaccinations, but it will depend on your dog's lifestyle and overall health. Once a dog reaches seven years of age, its senior status requires some special considerations to keep them healthy and happy.

How many rounds of shots do puppies need? ›

Puppies should receive at least three doses of a combo vaccine (distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus) between 6 and 16 weeks of age, two to four weeks apart. The AAHA recommends a booster within a year of the last dose, and then boosters every three years.

What happens if you're late on puppy shots? ›

Dog owners should be aware that missing or delaying a vaccine in a series for more than 4 weeks puts a puppy at risk of disease. During the initial series of a vaccine, if you delay a booster more than six weeks or miss one, an additional booster vaccine will be needed 3 weeks after resuming the series.

At what age should a puppy be fully vaccinated? ›

When should my dog be vaccinated? Dogs should receive their first vaccination, DHPP (for Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza), at 6-8 weeks of age. The vaccine should be administered again every 3-4 weeks until 16-20 weeks of age. (Booster vaccines are typically required every 1-3 years.)

What dog vaccines are not necessary? ›

Some veterinarians may imply that the core vaccines are required by law. But, except for rabies, they're not. Next, for non-core vaccines, you'll see we've focused on the three main non-core vaccines that your vet's likely to recommend: Bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme Disease and Leptospirosis.

Do dogs need distemper shots every year? ›

Caused by an airborne virus, distemper is a severe disease that, among other problems, may cause permanent brain damage. Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often. Core dog vaccine.

How often do dogs need Bordetella shot? ›

How often does a dog need a Bordetella shot? Your veterinarian will recommend a Bordetella booster shot every six-to-twelve months based on your pet's risk of exposure to Bordetella. This vaccination comes in two forms, an intranasal spray that your vet will administer in your dog's nose, and an injection.

Is it possible to over vaccinate a dog? ›

But Schulz is also very much in agreement with those who say pets are being over vaccinated, calling it a “serious problem.” Often, he says, pets are vaccinated by vets who just want to keep clients coming in. But too many vaccines, especially when given in “combo shots,” can “assault” immune systems.

Do dogs really need yearly vaccines? ›

Primary vaccination is essential to prevent the once common deadly diseases in puppies. However, recent research indicates that not all vaccines require yearly boosters. There is no evidence that annual booster vaccination is anything but beneficial to most dogs.

What to do if my dog has never had shots? ›

Puppies over 20 weeks: If never vaccinated, the pup will need an initial vaccine, and one booster within 2-4 weeks. Dogs over 1 year: If the dog was never vaccinated, an initial vaccine is required with a booster in 3-4 weeks, then yearly boosters. If the dog was vaccinated before, yearly boosters are required.

What is the 5 in 1 shot for dogs? ›

The 5-in-1 vaccine, or DHPP vaccine, protects against five viruses: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Adenovirus 1 and 2, Canine Parainfluenza, and Canine Parvovirus. Puppies should receive the 5-in-1 vaccine starting at 6-8 weeks of age, with shots given every 3-4 weeks until they reach 16 weeks old.

How many times do I need to deworm my puppy? ›

Puppies should be wormed every two weeks until twelve weeks of age, then monthly until six months of age. Once they have reached six months of age, a puppy can transfer onto an 'adult' worming schedule. All adult dogs need to be wormed every three months for effective protection.

What is the 8 in 1 vaccine for dogs? ›

What is the 8 in 1 vaccine? Secondly, the vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects dogs against eight different diseases. It also contains vaccines for Distemper, Adenovirus Type 1 and 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, and Coronavirus.

How long after a 2nd puppy vaccination can they go out? ›

As long as your puppy is 10 weeks old or older at their second vaccination, they will be immune to distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus one week after this vaccination. So, one week after their second vaccination, your puppy can be walked in public areas, and usually attend puppy classes.

How long after the 3rd vaccination can a puppy go out? ›

Two weeks after your puppy receives his last vaccine, he is considered fully vaccinated and can safely go outside. So if your puppy's last vaccine is given at 16 weeks old, it's safe for him to go outside at 18 weeks old. If it's given at 17 weeks, then he's safe at 19 weeks old.

What dog vaccines should not be given together? ›

And never ever give any other shot (especially not a rabies vaccination) within 3 weeks of a combo vaccine. This also means no Bordetella given nasally. Giving a rabies vaccine and Bordetella as well as a combo could mean as many as 9 shots in one day. Some dogs don't survive this.

How many shots do puppies need before socializing? ›

According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), "it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization [puppy classes] before they are fully vaccinated." "Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class."


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Trent Wehner

Last Updated:

Views: 5668

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Trent Wehner

Birthday: 1993-03-14

Address: 872 Kevin Squares, New Codyville, AK 01785-0416

Phone: +18698800304764

Job: Senior Farming Developer

Hobby: Paintball, Calligraphy, Hunting, Flying disc, Lapidary, Rafting, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Trent Wehner, I am a talented, brainy, zealous, light, funny, gleaming, attractive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.