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Puppy Shot Schedule: Important Vaccines for Their First Year and Beyond

Puppy Shot Schedule: Important Vaccines for Their First Year and Beyond

When you add a new puppy to your family, one of the most important things to do is get them vaccinated. 

If you adopt your puppy from a shelter, they may have already gotten some (if not all) of their shots. You’ll receive their medical records with their adoption paperwork, and should take these with you to your puppy’s first vet visit. This will help your vet determine which vaccines or boosters your pup needs, and when they need them.

If you get your puppy from a breeder or if they haven’t received any of their shots yet, your vet can walk you through the necessary vaccines and the appropriate puppy shot schedule during your first visit with them. In this guide, we’ll touch on the core and non-core dog vaccines, as well as the typical shot schedule for puppies.

What Do Puppy Vaccines Do?

Just like they do for people, vaccines give puppies the defenses they need to fight off certain diseases. 

Vaccines contain antigens that mimic disease-causing microorganisms. These antigens activate your pup’s immune system’s response to fight off diseases without making them sick. This builds up your puppy’s defense against future exposure to these pathogens, and helps to keep your little pal healthy.

Like humans, puppies need several shots to protect them against contagious diseases, plus the occasional boosters. We’ll take you through these vaccinations in the following sections.

What Are Core and Non-Core Vaccinations?

What shots do puppies need? Well, every single pup should get the core vaccines that protect your puppy against the most prevalent, dangerous, and contagious diseases: canine parvovirus, canine distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. 

Additional shots, called non-core vaccines, may also be recommended by your vet based on unique factors, like your puppy’s breed or where you live. 

When you bring your pup to the vet, discuss their recommendations for immunizations, testing, deworming, heartworm prevention, and spaying or neutering. Having this conversation can help you and your vet create a plan to fit your puppy's needs.

It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your puppy’s medical records on file. This can come in handy in various situations — for example, if you plan to travel on a plane with your pup, you’ll be asked to provide your dog’s vaccination records. In addition to the vaccines that are legally required or considered core vaccines,  some non-core vaccinations may also be required to travel or board your pup. 

Types Of Core Puppy Vaccines

These core shots are considered standard, and will typically come first in a puppy vaccine schedule:

  • Distemper: This contagious viral disease is spread through airborne exposure, and shared food and water bowls. Distemper attacks a dog’s respiratory, nervous, and GI systems. Because it’s incurable, preventative vaccination is vital.
  • Parvovirus: Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system, and scientists are still working to develop a cure. Fatal dehydration from the disease can occur within 72 hours, so infected dogs require immediate veterinary intervention.
  • Adenovirus (hepatitis): Canine hepatitis affects a dog’s liver, kidney, lungs, spleen, and eyes. If the disease progresses, it can be deadly. No cure exists, but symptoms can be managed by a vet.
  • Parainfluenza: Not to be confused with canine influenza, parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus that is typically transmitted through contact with other dogs.
  • Rabies: This virus attacks the nervous system, and is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Rabies vaccines are required by law in most states.
  • DHPP: Many vets administer a combination vaccine that covers distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvo. This is given incrementally as a puppy gets older.

Non-Core Puppy Vaccines

While some vaccines are necessary for your pup’s health, there are others that will protect them from less common or less severe threats. These non-core vaccines depend on where you live, your puppy’s medical history, and other environmental factors. 

Talk to your vet to see if your puppy needs any of the following non-core shots:

  • Leptospirosis: While Leptospirosis  is considered a non-core vaccine, most dog parents in North America should consider it. Usually found in contaminated water, Leptospirosis is endemic throughout much of the continent.  Dogs can get sick from drinking water at lakes and rivers during adventures and walks, so it's best to prepare ahead of time. This disease is also zoonotic (meaning it can be transmitted between species from animals to humans, or vice versa) and can be life-threatening.
  • Bordetella: This is the most common bacterium that causes kennel cough. Dogs are most likely to encounter Bordetella when they’re in close quarters, like at dog parks, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and dog shows.
  • Lyme disease: This disease is spread through ticks infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Vaccines for Lyme disease are generally recommended for dogs who live in areas where ticks are prevalent. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is most frequently reported in the upper midwestern, northeastern, and mid-Atlantic states.
  • Canine influenza: The canine flu spreads easily from one dog to another. This vaccine protects dogs against two virus strains that cause the majority of cases: H3N8 and H3N2. It’s often recommended for dogs who will be in close proximity to other dogs (i.e., boarding, dog shows, doggy daycare).
  • Coronavirus: This virus is not the same one that causes Covid-19 in humans. Canine coronavirus causes gastrointestinal problems in dogs. It’s spread through oral contact with infected fecal matter, food bowls, or an infected dog.
  • Rattlesnake vaccine: If you live in an area where rattlesnakes are a threat, this vaccine protects dogs from their venom.

Puppy Shot Schedule

Your little fuball’s shot schedule begins at 6 weeks old, with booster shots administered every two to four weeks until around 4 months old.

It’s very important to stick to this timeline. Puppies initially receive protective antibodies from their mother’s milk, but this immunity wanes over time. Their vaccinations must begin before this protection fully fades.

A solid first year vaccination schedule sets the stage for lifelong immunity against diseases — so, give your pup a good start, and watch them thrive for years to come. Keep reading to learn which shots your puppy should get at which ages.

6 to 8 Weeks Old

When your puppy is a tiny, 6-8 week old baby, they should start with these shots: 

  • DHPP combination vaccine: This core vaccine can be given as early as 6 weeks old. Booster shots are given at intervals of two to four weeks, until your puppy is around 16 weeks old. After the final shot in the series, your dog should get another vaccine one year later, and then after that, every three years.
  • Bordetella vaccine: For this non-core vaccine (on its own, without the parainfluenza combination vaccine), your puppy will typically receive a shot at 8 weeks old. There’s significant variation in the vaccination protocol depending on how it’s administered, and the age and lifestyle of your dog. 
  • Leptospirosis vaccine: Your pup can take this non-core vaccine as early as 8 weeks old, with a second dose 3 weeks later.  A booster is administered annually.
  • Lyme disease vaccine: Just like the Leptospirosis vaccine, your puppy can receive the Lyme disease vaccine as early as 8 weeks old, with a second dose 3 weeks later.  A booster is administered yearly.
  • Canine flu vaccine. Puppies can receive the canine flu vaccine as early as 6 to 8 weeks. Two shots are required, at an interval of two to four weeks. Yearly boosters are recommended.

12 to 16 Weeks Old

At 3 to 4 months old, your puppy should receive these crucial, immunity-building shots:

  • Rabies vaccine: Typically, puppies get their first rabies shot at around 12 weeks old, but some states wait until they’re closer to 16 weeks. You can talk to your vet about whether they’ll need to be on a one-year or three-year schedule for booster shots.
  • At this age, your growing pup will also get their final DHPP booster.

Booster Vaccines

Once your puppy has finished their initial round of shots, they’ll need booster shots every one to three years (the schedule depends on the type of vaccine).

For non-core vaccines, like Bordetella or canine flu, your dog’s need for vaccination may change — this is usually based on their lifestyle and risk factors.

What To Expect When Your Puppy Gets Vaccinated 

When you make a vaccination appointment for your puppy, it’s much more than a quick injection. Your growing little furball will be weighed, and get a thorough medical exam. Your vet will also probably ask you lots of questions about how your pup has been behaving, if there have been any issues, and about specific topics like their eating habits. Your vet will be able to help you understand why your puppy won’t eat their food, for example, or let you know if your your puppy is a healthy weight. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — your vet is there to help!

After a thorough exam, your vet will give your puppy their shots. Injections are  given under the skin at the back of the neck, and are well tolerated by the vast majority of pups. The infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) vaccine is the only vaccine that’s not injectable. It’s a  liquid vaccine which is given as a squirt up the nose — no needles required.

Overdue Puppy Vaccines

So you got your puppy their first round of shots, but forgot about the boosters. What happens now? In this scenario, what you need to do depends on how overdue the vaccinations are.

Most vaccine manufacturers state that there’s a three month leeway period after the vaccination due date, in which your puppy will likely still have strong immunity. In this case, a single booster dose will suffice. Any longer, and it’s recommended that you restart a new 2-dose course of treatment (four weeks apart — just as in the first year of your puppy’s life) to re-boost your puppy’s immunity and cover all the bases.

Getting Your Puppy Vaccinated

If your puppy is of vaccination age, then we recommend getting them vaccinated as soon as possible. Many dog owners breathe a sigh of relief once their puppies have been vaccinated, knowing that it’s now safer for their pup to socialize with other dogs (hello, puppy playdates!).

If you have any concerns about your puppy’s shots, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. They vaccinate pets day in and day out — so they’re used to fielding questions on side effects, cost, how to calm your puppy, and more.

After getting your puppy their shots, why not reward them with a delicious treat? Jinx Beef Training Treats and Chicken Jerky Bites are perfect for rewarding your newly-vaccinated pup. Besides making tasty rewards, our treats are free of fillers and artificial flavors. 

If you’re also looking for a good puppy food, we have a range to choose from — including puppy kibble and a Chicken and Pumpkin Topper for added nutrients and irresistible flavor.

At Jinx, we're here to upgrade the way you care for your dog by providing holistic nutrition made with thoughtful formulation, real ingredients, and a whole lot of love. Get started with the Puppy Essentials Pack.


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