A puppy receives its shots.

Puppy Shots Schedule: When Do Puppies Get Vaccinated?

Bringing home a puppy means taking on a lengthy to-do list. You have to introduce them to your family, provide safe toys, work on potty training, find the right puppy food, and get puppy vaccinations.

The last item on this list is typically the one most new pet parents have questions about.

These are valid questions, and with a little research, you’ll discover that shots for dogs are beneficial for both you and your pup.

What Are Puppy Shots?

What most people call “puppy shots,” doctors call vaccinations or boosters. When puppy owners hear “vaccination,” they typically think of the annual rabies shot their dogs get, but puppies actually need quite a few more vaccinations than that. Puppy vaccinations help dogs lead full and healthy lives.

Puppies need a series of vaccinations that will protect them from infectious diseases that can spread quickly from dog-to-dog or be picked up while outside playing.

Puppy Vaccination: Boosters Explained

Booster shots help your puppy build or “boost” their immune system. Typically, puppies get their first round of vaccinations between 6 and 8 weeks of age and every 3 to 4 weeks until around 20 weeks of age. Which vaccines your puppy receives at each appointment will vary depending on your dog’s size, local laws, and risk factors based on location and lifestyle.

Important Points About Puppy Vaccination

Keeping Disease Away – What Vaccines Do Puppies Need?

Each shot has been crafted to fight against a specific disease. The typical vaccine will read on your medical record as “DHPP,” “DHLPP,” or “DHLPPC.” These initials represent the first letter of the name of the disease (listed below). The DHPP vaccine is also commonly known as the DAPP vaccine.

Vaccines are commonly referred to as “core” or “noncore.”

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are those strongly recommended or required to prevent disease and promote dog health.

Non-Core Vaccines

Non-core vaccines are those recommended based on risk factors, like location and exposure to other dogs at boarding and grooming facilities or dog parks.

What Is the Typical Puppy Vaccine Schedule?

The information noted above was a detailed description of the components of a vaccine and their intended purpose. However, what does a puppy really need and what is the typical puppy vaccine schedule?

Here is the bottom line on what shots your puppy needs:

Puppy Vaccination Series Breakdown

Puppy Age Recommended Core Vaccines Optional Vaccines* Other Health Recommendations
6 – 8 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus Bordetella Fecal tests and deworming as needed
10 -12 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHPP) Bordetella (if not done earlier) Fecal tests and deworming as needed, Microchipping**, Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention
14 – 16 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Rabies*** (DHPP or DHLPP) Bordetella, Lyme disease, Canine flu, Coronavirus Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention
18- 20 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis****, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DHPP or DHLPP) Bordetella, Lyme disease, Canine flu, Coronavirus Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention
6 months Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention, Spaying or Neutering
1 year Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Rabies (DHPP or DHLPP) Bordetella, Lyme disease, Canine flu, Coronavirus Yearly Heartworm Testing

What Do Puppy Vaccines Cost?

When it comes to the cost of vaccinations, each provider will be different. Some areas of the country are more expensive than others. Animal shelters and vaccine clinics in rural areas are generally less expensive. We recommend that you call a few of your local vets to ask for an itemized list that details the cost of each vaccination you are preparing to give your puppy. This way, you’ll be able to compare and contrast the fees that each provider charges.

Vaccine appointments often include an examination, which equates to an appointment fee, in addition to the cost of the vaccinations. Vaccine prices vary substantially.

The prices below are rough guidelines:

Because there are multiple vaccines required to protect your puppy, vaccinations are more expensive during the first year. Subsequent years require fewer vaccines and, therefore, are less expensive.

What Else Does a Puppy Need to Stay Healthy?

In addition to the core vaccines listed above, puppies need the following:

Can You Use Feed-Store Vaccines?

Having a puppy can be expensive and the cost of vaccines, deworming, and flea, tick, and heartworm prevention can all add up. The question is – does where you get your vaccine matter?

According to most veterinarians, it does matter. Many vaccines provided by veterinarians are guaranteed. That means, if your pet is properly vaccinated and actually gets a particular disease, the costs may be covered.

Vaccines are delicate and improper storage can deactivate them. Veterinary clinics are careful in regard to how they store vaccines and monitor refrigeration temperature and expiration dates. Vaccines are shipped on ice or dry ice and most clinics have clear processes to preserve them.

State law requires some states to have thermometers in the refrigerators that store vaccines, as well as daily temperature monitoring and documentation. Some clinics have backup generators on their refrigerators to protect them from temperature changes.

While many feed stores try to do a good job, not all do. Veterinarians routinely treat puppies with diseases, such as parvovirus, that were vaccinated with feed-store vaccines. Feed store purchased and administered vaccines are better than nothing, but is that good enough for your puppy?

What Are Vaccine Titers?

Vaccine titers are blood tests that evaluate for the presence of antibodies that develop in response to a vaccine. They help determine protection (immunity) from a disease.

Some pet owners and veterinarians worry about over-vaccinating their pets. Titer tests can be performed in adult dogs to determine if they have protective antibody levels.

Low titers suggest poor protection, while high titers suggest good protection. There is no disadvantage of doing this other than the cost. This can be offset if a vaccine is not needed, but additive if an additional visit is needed for vaccination.

Titers are done in adult dogs that have already completed their series of vaccines. They cannot be done in puppies, because it is only with the vaccine series that they develop their immunity.

Learn more about vaccine titers here.

Cutting Costs and Keeping Your Puppy Healthy

When you bring a new puppy home, you promise to love and care for them for their entire life, which includes seeing to their medical needs. Vaccinations may seem expensive at the time, but treating any of the diseases that these vaccinations prevent can be a much greater expense. For example, parvovirus is completely preventable and prominent in unvaccinated puppies, and can cost thousands to treat. Outpatient treatment can cost $ 600 – $900 and hospitalized treatment can be $6,000 or more depending on the severity of the illness. When it comes to your puppy’s health, it’s better to be proactive as opposed to reactive.

One easy way to help cut down on the cost of vaccinations is through pet insurance. Some plans may cover illness and accidents only, while others cover the cost of vaccinations, fecal examinations, deworming, flea, tick, and heartworm preventions, spay or castration procedures, and even food.

Frequently Asked Questions About Puppy Shots

I’m not sure if my dog is up-to-date on shots, what should I do?

Check the vaccine schedule above or call your veterinarian to determine if your puppy is up-to-date or not. If your puppy is less than 6-months-old and has not had a shot for over 5 weeks, they are probably past due.

When should your puppy get their first shots?

Your new puppy should get their first shots between 6 and 8 weeks of age.

When can you take a puppy outside into public areas?

Based on the immune system of the puppy and vaccine physiology, a puppy is considered immune competent about 10 days to 2 weeks after their final vaccines, which should be around 20 to 22 weeks of age. However, socialization is very important to puppies and some experts believe that the risks of behavioral problems from not getting properly socialized may be more problematic than the risk of infectious disease.

There is low risk of infection if you socialize your puppy in select situations, such as with adult dogs that are properly vaccinated.

At what intervals do puppies get shots?

The proper interval between shots is three to four weeks.

How many parvo shots does a puppy need?

Parvo is a contagious disease and prevention is necessary. Puppies need a series of shots and how many parvo shots they get depends on their age at the point of their first shot. The very minimum number of vaccines is two after the age of 15 to 16 weeks. For example, a puppy that is 16 weeks would receive a shot that contains parvo at 16 and a booster at 20 weeks. A 6-week-old puppy may need 4 to 5 shots.

Are dog vaccines the same as cat vaccines?

No, vaccines for dogs are totally different from those created for cats.

Once my puppy is an adult dog, do they still need vaccines?

The immunity provided by vaccines doesn’t last forever. Booster vaccines are recommended.

How many sets of shots do puppies need?

Puppies generally need a series of shots that can begin as early as 8 weeks of age and repeat every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 20 weeks of age.

What is the 5-in-1 vaccine for puppies?

The 5-in-1 vaccine, also referred to as DHLPP, DHLPPC, DHPP, covers common puppy diseases including canine distemper virus, two types of adenovirus, and parvovirus.

Can I do puppy vaccines at home?

It is possible to do vaccines at home with something you purchase at a pet store or feed store. However, it is preferred to have an examination and vaccines provided by a veterinary hospital that can guarantee the quality of the products, ensure they are stored at the proper temperatures, and administer them properly.

What happens if I’m late with my puppy vaccines?

Call your veterinary hospital for their recommendations based on your dog’s age. If they are late, get them in for a booster as soon as possible. If it has been less than 6 weeks since the last vaccine, they may be able to get this puppy boostered, putting you back on schedule. More than six weeks since your last vaccine, and they may require another booster vaccine 3 to 4 weeks later to get caught up.

What is a puppy shot schedule chart?

My puppy’s vaccine schedule is off. Will we have to start over?

If you missed vaccines for your puppies, starting over will depend on how late you are and the age of the puppy. If it has been more than 6 weeks, you may have to start over.

How many vaccinations does a puppy need?

This answer depends on the age of your puppy. If you adopt a puppy that is 8-weeks-old, they may need a total of 4 shots. If you adopt a puppy that is 16 weeks old, they may only need 2 shots.

What is the vaccination schedule for a 3-month-old puppy?

Generally, the schedule is as follows:

*Rabies may be given earlier or later.

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