Puppies can be a lot of responsibility and you will be in charge of caring for your new dog for the next 10 to 15 years. One of the first things you'll need to do is find out about the proper puppy shot schedule.
You will want to keep your puppy as healthy as you can so it can grow to its full size and live without developing any health issues. Finding a good veterinarian as soon as possible is important to establish a good relationship with your dog and begin a medical and vaccination history.
Your puppy will have several vaccinations that will be important for its 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.
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You absolutely must be sure to do your own research about which vaccines are required for dogs, which are beneficial and which vaccines your pup may not actually need to get. Also, educate yourself on the most appropriate puppy shot schedule and stick to it.
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.
Puppy Shot Schedule
when and how to vaccinate your dog
What Vaccinations Are Required?
You will be going to the veterinarian’s office repeatedly for the first several months of your dog’s life. The expense of all the new toys, food, and now constant vet visits can seem suddenly overwhelming.
As you discuss your dog’s care with the veterinarian and you learn about the shots for puppies, you will see that there are so many different vaccinations it’s hard to know which ones are important and which ones may be optional.
Talk to your vet about any cost concerns you may have, and they will try to work within your budget. But, ultimately the health and well-being of your pet, along with what may be required, are what your vet will suggest for your pooch.
Your vet should have your dog’s best interest when it comes to a puppy shot schedule, so it is best to follow their recommendations. The following are types of diseases that your vet may or may not recommend vaccinations against:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Canine Distemper
- Canine Hepatitis
- Canine Parainfluenza
- Corona Virus
- Kennel Cough
- Lyme Disease
What Are Multivalent Vaccines?
Your veterinarian has suggested a “multivalent” vaccine for your dog. You’re wondering what that means, but are afraid to ask. It simply means that more than one vaccine can be given in one shot and is done for convenience.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends a common multivalent vaccine known as the DA2P. This vaccine can protect your dog against diseases such as canine distemper, adenovirus 2 and adenovirus 1 (which can cause canine hepatitis) and the canine parvovirus.
One thing to note is that these vaccines are considered safe only if they are sealed by the manufacturer. It is not safe to simply mix up vaccines in a single syringe.
READ THIS: 10 Vaccines That Dogs May Be Allergic To
What Are the Risks?
All the talk of medications and their side effects has you wondering about the risks involved as you're prepping your puppy shot schedule. As with any other medication or vaccination, yes – there can be a risk. However, according to the AAHA, all the core puppy vaccinations, DA2PP and the rabies vaccines are considered completely safe.
Most vaccines for our pets were created well over 50 years ago. Many years of scientific testing and effort has been put in to make these vaccines even safer and more reliable for animals.
However, all pet vaccines which are generally regarded as safe, can cause adverse side effects that are unexpected. The AAHA notes that most reactions that dogs have to vaccinations are minor and easily managed.
The AAHA’s recommendation is to note the health of your dog prior to vaccinations. If your dog is sick, vaccinations are not recommended at that time due to a compromised immune system. The vaccine, if given during that time, could be ineffective, but may also be harmful and cause an adverse reaction.
Setting Up a Puppy Shot Schedule
You will have to set up a puppy shot schedule with many checkup appointments for your puppy’s first year. Be prepared it is much like having a child, your puppy will not cooperate as you put it in its carrier, and you will feel anxious when it gets its first shots.
Your veterinarian will help explain the different types of shots available, set up your puppy shot schedule, and give your puppy a general health checkup at the same time. While the regulations can differ by state, the general accepted guidelines from the American Kennel Club are as follows:
|Puppy’s Age||Recommended Vaccines||Optional Vaccines|
|Age 6 – 8 weeks||Distemper, measles, parainfluenza||Bordetella|
|Age 10 – 12 weeks||DHPP (Vaccine for distemper, adenovirus, [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|Age 12 – 24 weeks||Rabies||none|
|Age 14 – 16 weeks||DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme Disease|
|Age 12 – 16 months||Rabies, DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|Every 1 – 2 years||DHPP||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|Every 1 – 3 years||Rabies (as required)||None|
Are Vaccinations Expensive?
Vaccinations can be a regular expense in the care for your new pet. How much vaccinations cost can depend upon where you live. It is well known that veterinarians in urban areas and large cities charge much more than a rural country veterinarian or in a small town.
It is helpful to call around as you will see significant price differences in what is available. It is also important that your veterinarian be near enough that they be available to you and your dog in case of emergency. So, when you look to establish a relationship with your new vet there is much to consider.
In the beginning, puppy vaccinations cost more during the first year to reach adulthood than in the years after. Here are some things to consider when you think about vaccine costs:
The core vaccines often include the DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza). The average costs should be around $75 to $100. Please note that as a puppy, this multivalent vaccine is given 3 times at ages 6, 12, and 16 weeks old.
Your puppy will need a rabies vaccine yearly. This vaccine costs between $15 and $20.
If you acquired your puppy from a shelter, it is likely that vaccines were included in the costs of the adoption and shots are up-to-date to the age when you received him.
You can lower the costs of a puppy shot schedule by going to clinics or even local shelters who may offer community programs. Some may offer low-cost or even free vaccinations to those who request it in the area.
Watch for your local pet store to offer a “shot clinic day” where they offer discounted vaccines to patrons often through volunteer services of local veterinarians.
Booster Puppy Shots
Veterinarians have a difference of opinion of the efficacy of booster shots for your dog every year. There are those veterinarians who believe that too many vaccinations can cause health problems for your dog. Many more veterinarians disagree, including some state regulations, stating that yearly vaccinations will prevent dangerous diseases.
One option that you have is to have a titer test done before vaccinating. This type of test measures the amount of a dog’s immunity levels so that a veterinarian can determine if vaccinations are necessary at that time.
Note that rabies vaccines are required by law and are done each year to three years depending on the type of vaccine given. It may seem like a lot to take in, but having a puppy is much like having a new family member, and the effort you put into it is all worth it.
Reducing Vaccine Risks
While most veterinarians consider vaccinations to be safe, the basic core vaccines protect against serious diseases. For that reason, it is considered that the benefits of the vaccine will outweigh any possible risks.
It is recommended for your dog to get these vaccines to protect its health, but it also protects the health of the community. Your veterinarian will discuss the risks associated with a puppy shot schedule with you.
Possible risks from vaccinations to your dog’s health could be serious and you should watch your dog for signs of reactions. If you notice any change in your dog after getting vaccinated contact your veterinarian immediately.
There are ways that you can help to reduce your dog’s risk of having any reaction to vaccines. You can do this by working with your vet to reduce the amount of vaccines that your dog receives by being on time with his puppy shot schedule, which means not being too early, too late or too often.
After receiving a vaccine, you can work with your veterinarian to perform titer testing to determine if your dog requires a booster shot or not. Titer testing will help make sure your dog doesn’t get extra shots it doesn’t need.