Puppy Vaccinations

Puppy vaccines save lives by protecting dogs from infectious diseases. It is especially important for puppies to be appropriately vaccinated because their immune systems are still forming, and they have not had the opportunity to develop resistance against common contagious diseases. If you have a new puppy or plan to adopt one, you should make sure to protect your pet by arranging for appropriate immunizations.

Puppy Vaccinations

What Shots do Puppies Need?

Gone are the days when veterinarians took a one-size-fits-all approach to vaccinating dogs. Today, veterinarians tailor vaccination programs to each dog’s needs. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that all dogs receive a few core vaccines and only receive other vaccines, which are called non-core vaccines, as required by certain lifestyle factors. Your veterinarian can help you decide which vaccines your dog requires.

Puppy Vaccinations – Core Vaccines Core vaccines protect against infections that pose a significant threat to the majority of dogs. These include the following:

Puppy Vaccinations – Non Core Vaccines These vaccines protect against diseases that only pose a significant risk to a certain subset of the canine population. Common non-core vaccines for dogs include the following:



Some factors your veterinarian will use to determine whether or not your dog requires one or more of these non-core vaccinations include the following:


  • Your location.
  • How much time your pet spends in the woods or other outdoor locations.
  • Your pet’s potential for contact with unfamiliar dogs.
  • The local tick population.


When Should I Have My Puppy Vaccinated?

For the first few days after puppies are born, they receive antibodies against common infectious diseases through the colostrum found in their mothers’ milk. These antibodies begin to wane after a few weeks and are gone by the time the puppies are 16 weeks of age. The exact time that the antibodies will pass out of an individual puppy’s system and leave the animal vulnerable to disease, however, varies dramatically. This is why veterinarians recommend beginning a puppy’s vaccination series when the animal is between six and eight weeks old and administering boosters every two to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old.

Generally, a healthy puppy receives a combination vaccination that protects against parvovirus, adenovirus and distemper during its first veterinary visit. This usually occurs when the puppy is eight weeks of age. The puppy receives another dose of the same product when it is 12 weeks of age and a final dose when it is 16 weeks old. The animal also receives a rabies vaccination at 16 weeks. This schedule varies depending on the age of the puppy when it is adopted, individual risk factors and local regulations. The schedule for non-core vaccinations varies depending on the vaccines chosen and the puppy’s lifestyle.

Pet Insurance for Puppies

Your first course of action regarding puppy vaccinations should be to consult with your veterinarian, who gives you the best advice on a specific dosing schedule for your newborn puppy. In conjunction, consider pet insurance through PetPremium with optional preventive coverage to be able to help cover the costs of puppy vaccinations.

One year after the completion of the puppy series, the dog requires boosters of the core vaccines. After receiving its initial boosters, the dog should receive booster doses of the core vaccines every three years unless circumstances or local laws require more frequent vaccination. Frequency of rabies vaccination is dictated by local laws, so be sure to check with your veterinarian or your local health department to be sure you are complying with local rabies regulations.