New Dogs What Shots Do Puppies Need and How Often They Need Them?

What Shots Do Puppies Need and How Often They Need Them?

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Taking care of a puppy and knowing what shots do puppies need can be a rewarding experience. But it is also a great responsibility since the puppy will depend on you for everything and they become great adult dogs.

In addition to high-quality food, attention and plenty of dog toys, the most important part of caring for a puppy is providing the appropriate veterinary care. factors included are getting your puppy vaccinated for various diseases through the first year of his life.

In this article, we will cover all that you need to know about puppy shots, side effects and the puppy/dog vaccination schedule.

What Shots Do Puppies Need?

You expect to go to the vet often during the first year of owning a puppy. This will be to receive the initial set of vaccines and to get booster shots or tests.

And while this can be considered as an inconvenience, vaccines can prevent many dangerous and even deadly diseases, some of which can’t be cured but only prevented. But with so many vaccines necessary, it can sometimes be confusing to know exactly how many vaccines your puppy needs.

Furthermore, there are also combination vaccines that combine vaccines for different diseases and that can also cause some confusion. So, what shots do puppies need?

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious and dangerous disease. It is caused by a virus that attacks nervous, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems of dogs, as well as other animals like skunks and raccoons.

The reason why distemper is so contagious comes from the fact that it is an airborne virus, which means that it is spread through coughing and sneezing. However, it can also be spread by shared food and water bowls.

Canine distemper can cause coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, discharge from the nose and eyes, twitching, seizures, paralysis and death. It can also make the footpad hard and thick.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for canine distemper. Infected dogs are treated by providing supportive care and with efforts to prevent potential secondary infections. The goal is to help the dog survive the symptoms in the hope that his immune system will then fight the virus off.

Canine Hepatitis

This is another highly contagious disease. Canine hepatitis is a viral infection that affects the dog’s liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs and eyes. Symptoms of the disease include jaundice, fever, stomach enlargement, vomiting and pain around the liver.

Canine hepatitis can be deadly in its severe form but many dogs can survive the mild form of this disease. There is no cure for this disease, so the only option is treating the symptoms.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough can be caused by viral, bacterial and other infections like canine parainfluenza or Bordetella. This can lead to inflammation of the upper airways in dogs. Among the risk factors, the most prominent is keeping dogs together in close proximity. That’s why it spreads through kennels quickly and effectively. However, it can also spread fast in dog parks.

This disease usually comes in mild form but in rare cases it can even be deadly. Common symptoms of kennel cough include dry coughing and bouts of rash. In more severe cases, it can lead to loss of appetite, gagging and retching.

Antibiotics are used in severe and chronic cases, while mild forms of the disease pass without treatment. However, you can help your dog and reduce coughing if you keep him in a well-humidified area. Using a dog harness instead of a collar can also be helpful.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This is a highly infectious bacterium that is one of the primary causes of kennel cough. However, most dogs that become infected with this bacterium are often infected by some virus (distemper, adenovirus, herpes, parainfluenza, reovirus, etc.) at the same time.

Bordetella can cause whooping, coughing, vomiting and, in some rare cases, seizures or death. This disease can cause many problems but it can easily be prevented with a vaccine. That’s why dog owners often need to provide proof of vaccination if they plan on boarding their puppy or use dog daycare services.

Lyme Disease

Like humans, dogs can also get Lyme disease. However, dogs won’t have the well-known symptom, the infamous “bullseye” rash. Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by the spirochete, a dangerous type of bacteria.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include limping, loss of appetite, fever and swollen lymph nodes. This disease can affect a dog’s kidneys, joints and heart, among other things. If left untreated it can also lead to neurological disorders. Treatment usually includes a course of antibiotics. This can be really helpful if the disease is discovered early.

Canine Influenza

Perhaps better known as dog flu, canine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by a particular Type A influenza virus that affects dogs and can’t infect humans. Symptoms include coughing, runny nose, fever, eye discharge, loss of appetite and lethargy. Infected dogs can also be asymptomatic but they can also suffer severe symptoms due to secondary infections. This can lead to pneumonia and, in rare cases, death.

Treatment is usually supportive but it can also include medications for some mild cases. The vast majority of dogs recover from canine influenza in a couple of weeks.


Mosquitoes transmit heartworm, a parasitic disease. As the name says, these worms can lodge in the dog’s heart and pulmonary arteries but they can also invade other organs, like kidneys or liver. They can also grow to become 14-inches long.

Although there is no vaccine against heartworm, the disease can be prevented with medication that your puppy can begin to receive when he is around 12 to 16 weeks old. Dogs are often without symptoms in the early stages. However, they can later develop a cough, loss of appetite and have difficulty breathing.


The canine coronavirus is a different type of virus from COVID-19 in humans. This virus usually affects the gastrointestinal system of dogs, although it can also lead to respiratory infections. That means that common signs of canine coronavirus include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Treatment includes hydration and keeping the dog comfortable and warm. Some medications to alleviate nausea may also help.


Spiral-shaped bacteria cause this disease. It is considered to be the most widespread zoonotic disease across the world. The spread of bacteria is through direct contact or contact with contaminated objects. It is commonly found in water and soil.

Luckily, antibiotics can be quite effective as a treatment, especially when administered early. Some of the most common symptoms of this disease in dogs include weakness, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, muscle pain and kidney failure.


Parvovirus is an extremely contagious and dangerous virus that can affect all dogs. However, unvaccinated dogs and puppies under 16 weeks of age are the most vulnerable. This virus is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal. It is also spread by indirect contact with a contaminated object, mostly infected feces. This is another reason why cleaning after your dog is important and why you should always have a waste bag at your disposal.

This virus invades the gastrointestinal system, so the most common symptoms are loss of appetite, vomiting, severe diarrhea and fever. This can cause extreme dehydration and quickly become fatal. No cure is currently available for parvovirus, keeping the dog hydrated and taking care of the secondary symptoms can help the dog survive.


Rabies is a well-known and extremely dangerous viral disease that affects mammals, including humans who mostly get it from infected dogs. Commonly spread through the bite of a rabid animal, it affects the central nervous systems of dogs and other mammals.

Rabies can cause a variety of different symptoms in different stages of the disease, including behavioral changes like restlessness, anxiety and aggression. Other symptoms include fever, excessive drooling, foaming at the mouth, paralysis, seizures and sudden death. There is no cure for rabies once the symptoms appear, which is why rabies vaccination is extremely important and, in most states, required by law.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

Diary open on table. Part of the "What Shots Do Puppies Need and How Often They Need Them?" article.
Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

The puppy vaccination schedule is not the same for all dogs. It depends on various things, most prominently on your location and the dog’s risk factors.

Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs. Vaccines for distemper, canine hepatitis, parvovirus and rabies are all considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given based on the dog’s exposure risk.

Generally accepted guidelines considering the puppy vaccination schedule for the dog’s first year of life are:

  • 6-8 weeks of age

Application of Distemper, parvovirus vaccines. Bordetella vaccine is optional.

  • 10-12 weeks of age

Administration of DHPP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus) vaccine. Influenza, Bordetella, Leptospirosis and Lyme disease vaccines are optional.

  • 16-18 weeks of age

Injection of DHPP and rabies vaccines. Influenza, Lyme disease, Bordetella and Leptospirosis vaccines are optional.

  • 12-16 months of age

Application of DHPP and rabies vaccines. Lyme disease, Bordetella, Leptospirosis and coronavirus vaccines are optional.

  • Every 1-2 years

It’s recommended to have the DHPP. Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, influenza and Lyme disease vaccines are optional.

  • Every 1-3 years

Your dog needs the Rabies vaccine.

Puppy Vaccinations Cost

The cost of puppy vaccinations depends on a few different factors. For example, vaccines usually cost more in urban areas than in small, rural towns. On average, core vaccines will cost between $75 and $100.

Animal shelters often charge less for vaccines and in many cases provide them for free. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, he will most likely be already vaccinated with the core vaccines appropriate for his age. Some shelters will also provide booster vaccines for adopted dogs.


Puppies need a wide variety of vaccines to protect them from contagious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. Diseases preventable by vaccines include canine distemper, canine herpes, kennel cough, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, parvovirus and rabies.

Core vaccines are those recommended for all dogs. Other recommendations are based on your location and the risk of exposure.

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