Puppy Vaccine Schedule

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(Last Updated On: April 20, 2020)

We bring puppies into the family not only because we want to have a cute fuzzball to play with, but because we want to care for our dogs and make sure they have the happiest and healthiest life possible. That’s why this article is an important topic of conversation for assuring just that – puppy vaccinations.

Preventative measures, such as vaccinations, are a great way to reduce health risks that threaten your puppy. Keeping your pup up-to-date on their shots is often required by law. Many places have rules that require you to show immunization records for your pets to use their services. These include airlines, dog parks, apartments, boarding facilities, and dog grooming salons.

You are taking the first step in getting your furry friend protected by reading this. Now, let’s dig deeper and learn about the vaccinations and the diseases that they prevent.

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What is the 5-in-1 Shot for Puppies?

The 5-in-1 shot for puppies, also known as DHLPP, protects against Distemper, Hepatitis (Adenovirus), Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus.

When should 5-in-1/DHLPP be administered?

This DHLPP vaccination is recommended for puppies as early as 6 weeks of age, followed by three follow-up doses before your puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. After this initial round of vaccinations, it is recommended that you get your pup an annual booster.

To help you understand what the vaccines are preventing, I have included a short breakdown of each illness below:


Canine distemper is a viral disease that spreads through the air. There is no known cure for canine distemper. However, some dogs will recover following prompt medical treatment. It is extremely contagious and presents with the following symptoms: high fever, coughing, runny eyes and nose, lack of energy, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, seizures, and paralysis.

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Canine hepatitis is caused by a virus called adenovirus. It is transmitted through infected urine and feces. This disease can be fatal. Symptoms include: cloudy blue eyes, fever, lethargy, abdominal pain and distention, tonsillitis, and lack of appetite.


Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease. It is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted to humans from animals. The bacteria (genus Leptospira) is transmitted to pups through infected urine and/or contaminated water. If caught early, antibiotics can help reduce the damaging effects and shorten the duration of the illness.

Symptoms include: fever, pain, loss of appetite, pink eye/conjunctivitis, and later symptoms include jaundice, change in urine appearance and frequency, difficulty breathing, dehydration, tremors, and organ damage.


Parainfluenza, or canine influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection. Due to its high contagion factor, many vets will treat the dog with antiviral medication to prevent spread even though recovery is likely.

Symptoms include: fever, difficulty breathing, dry cough, and runny eyes and nose.


Parvo is a viral infection that is highly contagious and often fatal for young puppies. It is transmitted through feces. The vaccine takes up to two weeks before it is effective in protecting your dog from illness.

Symptoms include: Weight loss, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, shock, and possibly death.

Which Vaccinations Do Puppies Need?

Bringing home your new puppy can often be stressful – potty training and socialization can make you feel like you’re on a short leash. But vaccinations don’t have to be part of that stress.

Aside from the 5-in-1 vaccine, you may be wondering what vaccines will be the most important for your puppy. Let’s go over some of the most vital immunizations.

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines typically include rabies, distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, and parvovirus. These ladder three diseases are covered in the 5-in-1 vaccine. Your veterinarian will use your location and your furry friend’s health to help you determine the necessary vaccines.

Rabies Vaccination

Rabies is a viral, zoonotic disease. The virus is typically spread through the bite of an infected animal. Rabies can be prevented if quickly treated before symptoms appear. The disease is fatal after symptoms emerge.

This vaccine is required by law in most states. The recommended age is 4 months old. It is required every 1-3 years, depending on the laws in your state. Discuss your options with your vet. Symptoms of rabies vary by type but can include: anxiety, excessive drooling, paralysis, aggression, behavior changes, fear of water, loss of appetite, frequent urination, and death.


Bordatella, also known as kennel cough, is a bacterial infection. The vaccine is often required at boarding facilities due to the contagious nature of the infection. Puppies can be vaccinated at 18 and 20 weeks and receive boosters annually.

Symptoms include: cough, gagging, sneezing, loss of appetite, and nasal discharge.

Heartworm, Flea, and Tick

Although these are not vaccines, medications against heartworms, fleas, and ticks are important to preventative care. The delivery method varies – from pills and treats to collars or direct placement on their skin. The frequency of delivery will depend on the type of medicine used.

These parasites can be disastrous for your puppy. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and lodge in the heart. Without treatment, heartworms can lead to death. Ticks spread diseases like Lyme disease. A large flea infestation can lead to anemia and other issues.

Lyme Disease

There is a vaccine available for Lyme disease. The best treatment, however, is through preventative measures.

Can puppies go out into the garden before injections?

Yes, your puppy can play in private gardens and your backyard before injections. However, it is crucial for their safety to know where the appropriate places are to let them roam free before their vaccinations.

When and where it is safe to bring your pup outside:

  • Puppies are allowed to go to their new homes at 8 weeks, but it is advised that you wait 16 weeks before exposing them to potential biohazards
  • Make sure to keep your puppy away from unfamiliar dogs. Even though they might appear healthy, they could be carrying an illness and easily transmit it through one-on-one contact with your puppy
  • Allowing your pup to play in your backyard or private gardens before vaccinations is safe and is an important aspect of getting your new pup housebroken early on
  • Puppies do not need as much exercise as adult dogs, so make sure to not overwork your pup because it can stunt their skeletal growth

Importance of socialization as a puppy:

  • Even though it is very necessary to take precautions in order to keep your puppy away from potential illnesses, socializing as a puppy is key to becoming a confident and friendly adult dog
  • It is hard to get your pup comfortable around unfamiliar places and people without coming in contact with certain illnesses. Pet-friendly stores give your puppy the chance to interact with new people in a safe and non-threatening environment
  • It is still safer to carry your puppy while in new places even if there are no other dogs around, since some viruses such as Canine Parvovirus can stay alive for up to a year without a living organism
  • A vet office is another safe environment for puppies to meet humans and become more comfortable with new interactions. It is highly unlikely for a puppy to extract an illness from a vet office since all dogs that are brought to the vet are vaccinated
  • One great way to help develop your pup’s social skills at a young age is to set up a playdate with a friend’s dog that you know is vaccinated and no risk to your puppy
  • Sometimes older dogs can get frustrated and impatient with the high energy of puppies. It is recommended to introduce dogs similar in age
  • Until your puppy has been fully vaccinated, it is important to keep playdates with other vaccinated puppies in backyards and away from possibly hazardous environments

How many shots do puppies need before going outside?

There is an appropriate amount of time to wait after vaccinations before allowing your pup to go to beaches, dog parks, and walking trails. Vets recommend you wait 10-14 days after your puppy’s last vaccination before exposing them to other puppies and very public places. This might seem overly cautious, but your puppy’s immune system is still developing and is more susceptible to canine parvovirus, canine distemper, and other dangerous viruses.

The “Puppy Shot” series:

Puppies usually begin getting their shots between the ages of 6-8 weeks old. Every 3-4 weeks the puppy should receive shots until 16-17 weeks old. After that, you should wait about 2 weeks before bringing your puppy to a new environment. However, vaccinations are not a one-size-fits-all deal. It is important to talk to your vet before determining the appropriate vaccinations and schedule your dog needs.

This process is influenced by a few factors:

  • What their mom’s vaccinations and immunity were
  • The type of lifestyle your dog will live
  • How many other puppies were part of the litter
  • The puppy’s age
  • All vaccinations they received from their breeder, previous owner, shelter, etc.
  • The environment they were raised in

It is highly recommended your dog is vaccinated for:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Rabies

Cost of puppy vaccinations

Your puppy must receive vaccinations within their first 6-8 weeks in order to be protected from multiple diseases. Even though this may become costly, it is crucial to the health and safety of your dog.

Typical Costs for vaccinations:

  • The initial puppy shot is typically a combo shot for both Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper. The cost is between $15-$30 per round, and there is a total of three to four rounds of this shot. The total cost usually comes out to be $60-$120 depending on where you are getting it from
  • Rabies shots typically cost $15-$35 and are given annually. Rabies shots are required by law in several states and countries

Additional Costs and Discounts:

  • Depending on your physician, the cost of office visits alone can range from $30-$60
  • You can save money by choosing a low-cost clinic, which will provide you with a lower price on both the office visits and vaccinations
  • Some vet clinics also offer discounts on shot packages. For example, Vetco offers a package of three rounds of puppy shots for a total of $153
  • Insurance plans will reduce the price of vaccinations as well. The costs of insurance plans vary depending on the size of your dog


We have just discussed a number of different illnesses, their vaccinations, the proper steps to take before/after vaccinations, and costs. Even though the long list may seem a bit overwhelming, it is important to take action early so your puppy can live a happy and healthy life.

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