Vaccine for Furry Friend: Puppy Shot Schedule for Healthy Pet

Just like human parents do with their babies, we as dog parents must adhere to a thorough puppy shot schedule. Vaccinations protect our four-legged buddies from contracting potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. Your puppy will require a variety of different vaccine shots across different stages of their life. In this piece, I will break down the puppy shots schedule dog owners need to follow in 2023. We will be exploring the type, the costs, and the timing of immunizations your puppy will need.

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When Do Puppies Get Their First Shots?

In the first six to eight weeks of their life, puppies obtain immunity from the antibodies in their mother’s milk. After that, they need to receive their first series of vaccinations. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic:

At what age do puppies get shots?

Puppies can be vaccinated as early as four to six weeks of age. But, most puppies’ first shots are administered when they are eight to ten weeks old.

When to get puppy first shots?

Start speaking to your vet about your puppy’s vaccine schedule as soon as they turn three weeks old. Your puppies must receive their first series of shots before they are ten weeks old.

Can an unvaccinated puppy go outside?

No. Do not take your puppy to public places before they receive their second series of vaccinations. You can let your puppy out into the yard, as long as they do not come into contact with other animals.

When to vaccinate puppies for the second time?

The second vaccination for your puppy will be administered two to four weeks after the first series. Beyond this, puppies will also require booster vaccinations every 6 or 12 months to top up their immunity.

The key takeaway from these FAQs is that you should start consulting with your veterinarian about your puppy’s shot schedule as soon as he/she is three weeks old.  

What Shots Do Puppies Need?

There are two categories of puppy vaccines:

  • Core Vaccines. These vaccines are required by law in most countries and all states in the US.
  • Non-Core Vaccines. These vaccines are elective. They are not required by law and are recommended by veterinarians based on a dog’s risk factors and lifestyle.

Here are the diseases these two types of canine vaccinations prevent.

Core v. non-core vaccinations

Alright, let’s talk about the big players first: core vaccinations. These are the vaccines recommended for all puppies and dogs, regardless of their lifestyle or location. They are essentially the superhero team of vaccines, fighting off the highly contagious viruses that can be transmitted through the bite of an infected dog or wild animal.

The first round of puppy shots should start when your puppy is around 6 to 8 weeks of age, followed by booster shots every two to four weeks until your puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. This schedule ensures that your new puppy is protected from diseases caused by a virus such as parvovirus, distemper, and the rabies virus. Yes, the dreaded rabies shot is a core vaccine, typically given around 16 weeks of age or four months of age, and then again at one year of age.

Now, onto the non-core vaccines, which are like the special guest stars of the vaccine world. These are recommended based on your puppy’s lifestyle and the region you live in. Planning on frequent visits to the dog park or puppy socialization classes? You might consider the Bordetella vaccine to prevent kennel cough, a contagious virus transmitted through the air.

And let’s not forget about the Lepto vaccine, which protects against a disease caused by a bacteria found in soil and water, and the rattlesnake vaccine for those adventurous pups exploring snake-prone areas. Non-core vaccines are generally started at around 8 to 16 weeks of age, with booster shots given every two to four weeks until the puppy reaches around four months of age.

But wait, there’s more! If you plan on boarding your puppy or if your little one is a social butterfly at the dog park, you might consider vaccines for canine influenza (dog flu) and parainfluenza. These vaccines can be given as part of the first-year puppy vaccination schedule to protect against these highly contagious viruses.

And here’s a little pro tip for the budget-conscious pet parents out there: talk with your veterinarian about the cost of puppy vaccines. Some clinics offer vaccine packages or charge less for vaccines during spay/neuter surgeries, helping you to keep the cost down while ensuring your right puppy gets the protection they need.

Core Vaccines

#1. DHPP

DHPP is the number one item on the vaccine schedule for puppies. It is a four-in-one combination vaccine that puppies need 3/4 times during their initial puppy vaccine series. This vaccine protects puppies against the four of the most contagious and dangerous dog viruses in the world:

  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Adenovirus-2 (CAV-2)
  • Parainfluenza Virus

In some parts of the world, the DHPP vaccine may also include protection for leptospirosis, a severe viral infection caused by variations of the Leptospira bacteria. In that case, the DHPP vaccine will be called DHLPP. However, vaccinating against leptospirosis is not a “core requirement” in areas where the disease is super-rare.

Following the DHPP vaccine schedule for puppies, however, is a core requirement everywhere in the world. Puppies should receive the DHPP vaccine at the ages of 8, 12, and 16 weeks. They also have to get revaccinated or “boosted” one year later. Subsequent boosters will need to be administered at one to three-year intervals after that.

Here is a chart detailing the DHPP vaccine schedule for puppies:

6 to 8 weeks old1st DHPP vaccine
10 to 12 weeks old2nd DHPP vaccine
14 to 16 weeks old3rd DHPP vaccine
12 to 14 months old1st booster
1 year2nd booster
Every 1 to 3 yearsBooster

#2. Rabies Vaccine

The rabies vaccine is mandated by law in many parts of the world. That’s because this viral infection can affect the nervous systems of both humans and dogs. Here is the rabies vaccine schedule for puppies that dog owners must follow:

  • The first rabies vaccine should be administered when the puppy is 12 to 16 weeks old.
  • The second dose should be administered one year after the initial dose.
  • Subsequent booster vaccines should be administered every one to three years.

Noncore Vaccines

Noncore dog vaccinations are not mandatory. I recommend you use the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHS) dog vaccine calculator to determine which non-core vaccines your dog should get. Your veterinarian should also be included in this discussion. Here are four of the most important types of noncore shots for puppies:

  • Kennel cough vaccine
  • Leptospirosis vaccine (can be included with the DHPP vaccine)
  • Canine Lyme disease vaccine (borrelia burgdorferi)
  • Canine influenza vaccine

Your vet will determine which of these noncore vaccines your puppy needs based on its lifestyle, risk factors, and location. If you live in an area where Lyme disease is extremely prevalent, your vet will ask you to give your dog the Canine Lyme disease vaccine. Similarly, if there is a flu outbreak in your locality, your vet may recommend the Canine influenza vaccine.

What is the Shot Schedule for Puppies?

As soon as your puppy is six to eight weeks old, the first series of vaccinations will start. After that, your puppy will need new boosters every year. Here is a detailed chart that explains when do puppies get shots and how much they cost:

VaccineAge for First DoseBoostersAverage CostCore or Non-Core
DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza)6 to 8 weeks3 boosters at the following ages: 10 to 12 weeks16 to 18 weeks12 to 14 months$25 to $30 per shotCore
Rabies12 to 14 weeks3 boosters at the following ages: 12 to 14 months2 yearsEvery 1 to 3 years$15 to $30 per shotCore
Bordetella (Kennel Cough)Any of the following ages: 6 to 8 weeks10 to 12 weeks16 to 18 weeksAnnually$10 to $20 per shotNon-core
Lyme DiseaseAny of the following ages: 12 to 14 weeks12 to 14 monthsEvery 3 to 4 months in locations where Lyme disease is common.$20 to $40 per shotNon-core
Canine Influenza6 to 10 weeksAnnually$20 to $40Non-core

When Are Dogs Fully Vaccinated?

Puppies are considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after they complete their first vaccine series. But dogs can never be fully vaccinated. Adult dogs need vaccine boosters to reinforce their immune systems throughout their life. Use this guide to keep your puppy’s vaccination records up-to-date. Vaccinating your puppy is very important, but it’s not enough. To keep them healthy and happy in the long run, you must take them to the vet for yearly checkups and immunizations long after they become full-grown adults!

Puppy Shot Schedule. FAQ 

Now let’s fetch some brief answers to those burning questions you have about the puppy vaccine schedule.

Can I take my puppy out after 2 shots?

Generally, it’s recommended to wait until your puppy has had all their round of vaccinations, which usually wraps up at about 16 weeks of age. This ensures they are protected from any viruses they might encounter during their outdoor adventures.

How Much Do Puppy Vaccinations Cost?

Ah, the million-dollar question (well, not literally, thank goodness). The cost can vary widely depending on your location, the type of vaccine, and your vet’s pricing structure. Typically, you’re looking at a range that can be anywhere from $75 to $300 for the entire puppy vaccine schedule. It’s always a good idea to budget for this to keep your dog healthy without breaking the bank.

Is distemper and parvo the same thing?

It’s easy to get swamped with all the medical terms, isn’t it? While both are serious diseases that we vaccinate our fur babies against, they are not the same thing. Distemper affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems, while parvo focuses its attack on the gastrointestinal system, often leading to severe dehydration and loss of appetite. Both vaccines are recommended as part of the core vaccination regimen to give your new puppy the best shot at a healthy life.

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

This is like the superhero team-up of the vaccine world! The 5-in-1 shot protects your puppy against distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and leptospirosis. It’s a fantastic way to guard against several diseases at once, making it a vital part of the puppy vaccine schedule.

Do puppies need 3 or 4 sets of shots?

This one can be a bit confusing, can’t it? Generally, puppies start their vaccinations at around 6-8 weeks of age and receive additional doses every 3-4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. So, you’re looking at a series of 3-4 sets of shots to ensure they are well protected.

How many shots do puppies need before going outside?

Before venturing into the great outdoors, it’s recommended to wait until your puppy has received at least their first two sets of vaccinations. This will help to keep your puppy at risk of catching any nasty viruses at bay.

What’s a titer test?

A titer test is like a report card for your puppy’s immune system. It measures the level of antibodies in your puppy’s blood to determine immunity to specific diseases. It can help you and your vet decide whether your puppy needs booster shots or not.

When should puppies get dewormed?

Deworming should start early, with the first dose usually given at 2-3 weeks of age, followed by several more rounds every two weeks. It’s a crucial step in ensuring your puppy grows up worm-free and happy.

Is there a heartworm vaccine for puppies?

Currently, there isn’t a specific vaccine for heartworms. However, there are preventative medications that you can start giving your puppy from 6-8 weeks of age to keep those pesky parasites at bay.

How can you save money on puppy shots?

Saving on puppy shots without compromising on quality is all about being a savvy pet parent. Consider looking into vaccine clinics, which might offer discounts, or asking your vet about package deals. Remember, it’s always better to prevent than to treat!

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, a guide to navigating the sometimes confusing world of puppy vaccinations. Remember, when in doubt, always consult with your vet to ensure you’re making the best choices for your furry friend. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to keep your pup happy and healthy!

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