Shots for puppies

When you bring your new dog home for the first time, it’s easy to get excited about all the good memories you’ll make with them for as long as they remain by your side. Unfortunately, canine companions can contract any number of diseases from a host of viruses, bacteria, and other microbes living in unsuspecting places, like your front yard or a shared feeding dish. 

Vaccinations are a highly effective way to protect your dog and help them lead long and happy lives. Following a vaccine schedule during the first year of your puppy’s life sets the stage for a lifetime of protection. Consult the brief guide below to learn more about the types of vaccines your beloved pet will need and when to schedule them.

What Are Core and Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs?

Vaccines typically fall into one of two categories – core and non-core. Core vaccines are required for all dogs, whether they’re indoor or outdoor pets. Non-core vaccines are optional for dogs with certain lifestyles. 

Distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvo (DHPP), and rabies are core vaccines because they protect against severe and highly contagious diseases. Bordetella is a non-core vaccine because it protects against a social disease that dogs get from other dogs. Unless your pet will be around other canines at home or in a boarding facility, a Bordetella vaccine usually isn’t necessary.

Types of Diseases Vaccines Protect Against

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is one of the most severe diseases a dog can catch. It’s a highly contagious virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. 

Some disease symptoms include fever, seizures, coughing, vomiting, twitching, and possibly death. It has no cure, which is why vaccines against it are vital.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Bordetella is an infectious bacterium that causes kennel cough. It can lead to runny nose, discharge, coughing, and episodes of vomiting, so it’s easily transmittable among dogs in social environments, like doggy daycares. It’s also possible to contract the disease through shared food bowls.

Lyme Disease

A common issue in dogs is Lyme disease, which is contracted through tick bites. The root of this tick-borne disease is a spirochete bacteria, which causes a dog’s lymph nodes to swell, produces a fever, and suppresses their appetite. 

Lyme disease can affect the heart, joints, and kidneys and can also lead to neurological disorders if not properly treated. Though a quick diagnosis and an entire course of antibiotics can treat the condition, it can flare up again months or years later.


This is another highly contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system. Like the Bordetella bacteria, it is a common cause of kennel cough.


Canine hepatitis or adenovirus is unrelated to the disease humans contract. The dog version attacks the liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and eyes. Symptoms include everything from a minor fever and congestion to stomach enlargement and pain near the liver.


Another highly contagious virus is parvo. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies under four months old are the most vulnerable to it. 

The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system, leading to severe diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, and vomiting. Due to the intensity of the infection, extreme dehydration can occur and even lead to death within 48 to 72 hours. Parvo has no cure, so preventative measures like vaccines are the best protection.


All mammals can contract rabies, including dogs and humans. It’s a dangerous viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. Infected animals and people often experience headaches, hallucinations, fear of water, and excessive drooling.  Rabies is almost always fatal.  

Rabies goes from mammal to mammal through bites. If your dog gets bitten by an infected animal, it will need immediate treatment, or it could die. For that reason, most states require rabies vaccinations for dogs.

General Vaccine Schedule for Dogs

Vaccinating your dog takes more than a single trip to the veterinarian for one shot of medicinal products. Dogs have a vaccination schedule, and they won’t be fully vaccinated and protected long-term from disease-causing microbes unless you adhere to it. 

The typical dog vaccination schedule is as follows: 

  • 6 to 8 Weeks: Distemper and parvovirus with an option for Bordetella
  • 10 to 12 Weeks: DHPP (A five-in-one vaccine for Canine Distemper Virus, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease
  • 16 to 18 Weeks: DHPP with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease
  • 12 to 16 Months: DHPP with an option for Bordetella and Lyme disease 

In most cases, a veterinarian will administer core vaccines every two to four weeks. The schedule will help boost a dog’s immune system and offer optimal protection against severe sicknesses well into adulthood.


PP Puppy Vaccination Calendar

Why Are Vaccines Essential for Puppies?

When a puppy is born, it has passive protection against illness because it inherits some of its mother’s antibodies. However, these antibodies are not permanent and your puppy’s protection against disease fades within its first few months of life.  Vaccines help trigger a dog’s own immune system by forcing a response in a safe, controlled manner.

Your puppy will need to begin their immunizations within the first few months of life. The purpose of the early start is to strengthen the animal’s immune system at a young age to protect them against potentially deadly diseases like parvo and distemper. 

Do Adult Dogs Need Booster Shots?

After the initial round of vaccines, your puppy will need another DHPP shot every one to two years. Depending on state and local law, they can receive additional shots for rabies every one to three years. 

Taking your adult dog to the vet each year for a vaccine may seem excessive to some. However, booster shots are a necessity for protecting your dog from contracting dangerous diseases. If you have concerns or questions about booster shots for your pet, speak with a knowledgeable veterinarian from Penny Paws Animal Clinic.

Vaccinate Your Dog at Penny Paws Animal Clinic Today

It’s no question that vaccinating your dog is essential for them to have a long, healthy life. There are numerous ways dogs can develop debilitating illnesses and diseases, but adhering to a vaccine schedule will ensure that they have the best protection. 

When it’s time to get your furry friend vaccinated, head to Penny Paws Animal Clinic. Our experienced veterinarians and caring staff offer exceptional pet care services, including vaccinations. Contact our team today to book your pet’s next appointment