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How Many Shots Do Puppies Need?

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One of the first things that all new owners need to worry about is getting their puppy his necessary shots. In order to keep your puppy as healthy as possible, he'll need a series of shots over the first year of his life. How many shots do puppies need? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors.

Your puppy will need several vaccinations that are crucial to his health, and some are required by local laws and regulations. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what vaccinations are required and are important to the health and well-being of your puppy.

Unfortunately, some veterinarians will recommend that your puppy get every vaccination that is available for him. You must be sure to do your own research on which vaccines are required for dogs in your region, which vaccines would be beneficial for your pup to get, and which ones your new puppy may not actually need.

Over-vaccinating dogs is a serious concern, and definitely something that you should be worried about. For more information on the science behind this topic, check out our article on preventing over-vaccination in dogs.

How Many Shots Do Puppies Need?

Puppy VaccinesVaccines contain antigens that help prepare the immune system to fight a disease. Antigens look and act like the organisms that cause a disease, but they don't actually cause the disease. When the body is exposed to the vaccine, it mildly stimulates the immune system.

If the body was ever exposed to the real disease, the immune system would recognize it. The body would either be able to fight the disease off entirely, or at least would be better prepared to fight it causing the illness to be much less severe than normal.

While vaccines are extremely important to your dog's health, not all dogs need to be vaccinated against every disease. Your dog's age, medical history, travel habits and regular environment will all factor into which vaccines are right for him.

Core Vaccines vs. Non-Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are considered necessary for all dogs. Your veterinarian will probably recommend these vaccinations as a bare minimum for your puppy. The 4 core vaccines are:

  • parvovirus
  • distemper
  • canine hepatitis
  • rabies

Vaccinations for kennel cough, lyme disease and leptospirosis are recommended by many veterinarians, but are not considered to be core vaccines for all dogs. These vaccines should be considered if your dog is likely to be exposed to the diseases. For example, if your dog will be staying in a kennel facility or going to doggy daycare regularly, the kennel cough vaccination would be a good choice for him.

ALSO: 10 Things You Must Know About Dog Vaccines

vaccines for puppiesPuppy Vaccination Schedule

How many shots do puppies need? That's actually a 2-part question. While they may only need 4 vaccinations, they'll require a lot more than 4 shots. Your puppy will get his first shots at 6-8 weeks old.

Some veterinarians give a combination vaccine, while others give each shot individually. Here is a look at the most common puppy vaccination schedule:

Age Core Vaccines Non-Core Vaccines
6 – 8 weeks Distemper, measles, parainfluenza Bordetella
10 – 12 weeks DHPP (Vaccine for distemper, adenovirus, [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease
12 – 24 weeks Rabies
14 – 16 weeks DHPP Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease
12 – 16 months Rabies and DHPP Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Diseasec

Your dog will also need a DHPP booster every 1-2 years and a rabies boost every 1-3 years, depending on the laws in your area and/or your veterinarian's recommendation. So, how many shots does a puppy need? A lot!

It's best to have a discussion with your veterinarian about the vaccination schedule before you even bring your puppy home. This way you will be prepared and you can make arrangements to set up the appointments in advance. It will also give you time to include all of these vet visits in your budget.

READ NEXT: What is Over Vaccination in Dogs & How To Prevent It?

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