Congratulations on your adorable new addition! Your new puppy will be playful, energetic, and curious. Like a newborn baby, your puppy is vulnerable and needs your love, care, and protection.

To keep them safe from sickness, you should schedule at least the core vaccinations or puppy vaccines throughout their first year. Puppy vaccines prevent life-threatening infectious diseases and stop them from infecting other dogs.

Typically, a puppy vaccine schedule includes getting the DHPP vaccine, rabies vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, Leptospirosis vaccine, and Lyme disease vaccine.

Key Takeaways:

  • Early shots safeguard your puppy and prevent contact with unvaccinated dogs during their vulnerable phase.
  • Collaborate with your vet for a tailored vaccination plan, considering booster shots for lasting immunity.

Let's take a closer look at the vaccine regimen your puppy will need!

How Puppy Vaccines Work

Just like kids need immunizations to stay healthy, canine vaccinations build a strong immune system and protect dogs from harmful diseases. Vaccines introduce a small and harmless part of an antigen, from a virus or bacteria, into the puppy's body. This triggers the puppy's immune system to recognize and remember the threat. If your puppy is later exposed to the disease, its immune system responds quickly and fights off the infection.

Early puppy vaccinations are significant as they provide crucial protection during a vulnerable phase of a dog's life, thus the need to keep them away from unvaccinated dogs.

Always follow a puppy vaccination schedule by creating a vaccine calendar and following it consistently to protect your puppy against life-threatening diseases.

Core Vaccines

There are two general categories of dog vaccinations: core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are universally recommended and considered essential for all dogs. This is due to the severity of the diseases they protect against. Core vaccines for puppies are:

  • Canine distemper virus: Protects against the highly contagious and potentially deadly distemper virus.
  • Canine adenovirus (CAV-1 and CAV-2): Shields against adenovirus, which targets the liver, spleen, lungs, and eyes.
  • Canine parainfluenza virus: Gives your puppy immunity against a virus that causes serious trachea and lung infections.
  • Canine parvovirus: This vaccine guards against the highly contagious parvovirus, which causes life-threatening gastrointestinal illness.
  • Rabies vaccine: This prevents your dog from contracting rabies, a highly contagious disease that is fatal and can spread to humans.

The core vaccine series starts at around 6 to 8 weeks of age and continues every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is around 16 weeks old. After the initial series, boosters are usually required at specific intervals to maintain the dog's immunity throughout life.

Non-Core Vaccines

Additional vaccinations that are often recommended to provide extra protection based on specific risk factors are called non-core or optional vaccines. These vaccines are:

  • Canine leptospirosis vaccine: Helps protect against leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause kidney and liver failure, bleeding disorders, and in severe cases respiratory difficulties.
  • Canine Bordetella vaccine: Protects against kennel cough.
  • Canine Lyme vaccine: Prevents transmission of bacteria known as Borrelia Burgdorferi from ticks.
  • Canine influenza vaccine: Protects your fur baby from contracting the flu from an infected dog.

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Puppy Vaccination Schedule

When discussing a puppy vaccine schedule with your veterinarian, explain your puppy's specific lifestyle, environment, and potential exposures to determine which additional vaccines are necessary.

Here is a sample vaccination timeline for a puppy:

Puppy's Age (Weeks) Recommended Vaccines Optional Vaccines
6-8 weeks

Distemper, Adenovirus (CAV-1 +/- CAV-2), Parvovirus, & Parainfluenza


10-12 weeks

DHPP (combined distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and parvovirus)

Influenza, Bordetella, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis per lifestyle

16-18 weeks

DHPP & Rabies

Influenza, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

12-16 months DHPP & Rabies Influenza, Bordetella, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis

Remember, most dog vaccines require booster shots for adequate immunity after the required vaccination stages. Consult your veterinarian to create a tailored vaccination plan that suits your puppy's needs and lifestyle.

Risks of Vaccines for Puppies

Puppy vaccines may cause some side effects, such as mild lethargy, slight fever, swelling, and discomfort in the injection area. Sometimes, but rarely, puppies might experience allergic reactions, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Severe symptoms that demand immediate veterinary attention include difficulty breathing, hives, extreme lethargy, persistent vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, and swelling on the face, nose, or around the eyes.

It is important that your puppy is healthy when they receive each of the vaccination stages. If your pup seems unwell, discuss it with your veterinarian.

Cost of Puppy Vaccines

Puppy vaccination costs range between $20 and $85 a shot. Prices range according to breed, health needs, and location.

Planning for a Healthy Future

Beyond the initial vaccine series, regular veterinary check-ups are crucial in monitoring your puppy's overall health, detecting any potential issues early, and ensuring they receive appropriate care as they grow.

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On the other hand, preventive measures such as dental care, regular exercise, and appropriate nutrition can be discussed and incorporated into your puppy's routine, promoting optimal health and quality of life.

As a responsible pet parent, consider scheduling long-term health and wellness examinations for your puppy so they can enjoy many vibrant years.

Related reading: First Vet Visits for Puppies


Puppy vaccines are essential for your pup's overall health. Sticking to the vaccination protocol is important so your dog can be fully vaccinated. Remember that most doggy daycare and boarding facilities insist on your dog being vaccinated.

Diligently adhering to your puppy vaccine schedule, combined with routine care such as grooming, exercise, healthy feeding, and regular veterinary visits lays the foundation for your furry friend's healthy and happy life.

At BetterVet, we provide mobile pet vaccinations and hassle-free wellness exams. To get started, book a puppy wellness exam with us to ensure your puppies health!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are vaccinations important for puppies?

Canine vaccinations protect puppies from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.

What's the difference between core and non-core vaccines?

Core vaccines are essential and recommended for all dogs due to the widespread risk of serious diseases. In contrast, non-core vaccines are optional and depend on specific factors like lifestyle and environment.

Can I delay or skip vaccines for a healthy puppy?

No. Delaying or skipping vaccines increases their risk of contracting preventable diseases.

How frequently should I see the veterinarian post-initial vaccines?

It's advisable to continue with regular veterinary check-ups even if your dog appears to be healthy. At least once a year is recommended for adult dogs, while puppies and senior dogs should be checked every three to six months.

Can my puppy go outside before all shots are done?

It's best to avoid high-risk environments like dog parks, doggie daycares, boarding  and grooming facilities until your puppy has completed the full vaccination series to minimize the risk of exposure to infected animals or environments.