Common Dog Vaccinations and Shot Schedule

Mychelle Blake
Golden retriever puppy

Vaccinations are a crucial responsibility of every conscientious dog owner. Protecting your dog from easily avoidable serious diseases is the best gift you can give him as a puppy.

Necessary Dog Vaccines

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association both recommend four vaccines that every dog should have. These are considered the "core" vaccines.

Canine Adenovirus Vaccine

This vaccine guards against infectious canine hepatitis as well as associated respiratory disease. Canine hepatitis can be fatal and is more deadly for younger dogs. It is also very contagious. The disease can lead to damage to the eyes, liver, kidneys, and spleen.

Canine Distemper Vaccine

This vaccine prevents a serious medical condition known as canine distemper. If not treated, it can be fatal. There is no cure for the disease, but immediate treatment and supportive care can help a dog pass through it and recover.

Canine Parvovirus Vaccine

This vaccine prevents parvovirus, a deadly disease that is highly contagious and can lead to death without immediate treatment. A puppy can die within 48 to 72 hours of the first visible symptoms. Since there is no cure, the best treatment for parvovirus is providing the vaccine before your puppy is at risk. The disease can be shed and live on surfaces and even clothing, which makes it a serious concern even if your puppy never goes near another dog.

Rabies Vaccine

This vaccine is required by law because rabies is not curable and is always fatal. This viral infection attacks the brain and nervous system of an animal. It can lead to paralysis, severe behavior changes, disorientation, and eventually death. It is transmitted through saliva left in bites between animals.

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

In addition to the necessary core vaccines, there are other shots you can get for your dog. Depending upon where you live and your dog's lifestyle, your veterinarian may strongly recommend one or all of these.

Chihuahua receiving a vaccination

Bordetella Vaccine

This vaccine prevents bordetella bronchispetica, also known as one of the types of kennel cough. If you have a dog that will be around other dogs often, such as in a doggie daycare, training class, or dog park, your veterinarian may advise you to get this shot for your dog. It is also usually required by boarding facilities before you can house your dog, and many shelters give dogs this vaccine upon arrival to their facilities.

Leotospira Vaccine

This vaccine is usually recommended for dogs that are often in wooded areas where infected wild animals may be or who live in regions where the chance of catching the leptospirosis infection is known to be higher. Areas with standing water are a risk, as well as climates that are warmer and have high precipitation. Many sporting dog breeds are given the vaccine, as well, if they participate in hunting activities. Lepto, if not treated, can lead to liver or kidney damage or even death.

Canine Lyme Disease Vaccine

The vaccine for canine Lyme disease, borrelia burgdorferi, is recommended for dogs who live in high-risk areas which tend to be in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the U.S., as well as some northern Midwestern states.. The disease is transmitted by ticks found in parks and wooded areas. Lyme disease can cause serious medical problems for your dog if not treated, including heart and kidney failure and neurological issues.

Coronavirus Vaccine

Coronavirus is a virus that attacks a dog's intestines and is particularly serious for puppies. This disease is contagious and can lead to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, but it ultimately is not deadly and will pass with supportive treatment. Although this is not considered a core vaccine, the coronavirus vaccine is often given to puppies in the single-dose vaccines that prevent multiple diseases.

Canine Influenza Vaccine

The "canine flu" vaccine is usually recommended for dogs that will be around other dogs on a regular basis, such as at classes, dog parks, or doggie daycare. It is also often required by boarding facilities. It may also be recommended by your veterinarian if you live in an area where there has been an outbreak of the canine flu, such as Florida in 2004 and Chicago in 2015.

Rattlesnake Vaccine

This vaccine is only used for dogs that are at a clear risk of being bitten by the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. This would include dogs that live in a known habitat for the snakes or travel through such as by hiking or camping with you. These snakes can be found in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. The vaccine is designed to lessen the impact of the rattlesnake's venom but this does not mean your dog is safe if bitten. You will still need to get him to a veterinarian right away for treatment.

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Vaccine

When to Vaccinate

Core or Non-Core

Canine Adenovirus

  • Puppies are given 3 doses, starting at 6 weeks of age with subsequent doses in intervals of 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Puppies will receive a booster shot one year after the last multi-dose shots and then every 3 years thereafter.

Core

Canine Distemper

Same schedule as the canine adenovirus vaccine.

Core

Canine Parvovirus

Same schedule as the canine adenovirus and canine distemper vaccines.

Core

Rabies

  • A puppy receives the first shot around 3 to 4 months of age depending on state regulations.

  • Depending on where you live, you may be required to give your dog the rabies vaccine annually or every 3 years.

Core

Bordetella

  • A puppy can be as young as 6 weeks to receive this vaccine.

  • For puppies and dogs in high-risk areas or situations, this vaccine is given either annually for the intranasal or oral vaccine or every 6 months for the injection version.

  • If you are going to board your dog, most facilities require this vaccine to be given at least 2 weeks prior to the boarding date but no later than 6 months prior.

Non-Core

Coronavirus

  • Can be given to puppies as young as 6 weeks. It is given in 2 doses that are 2 to 3 weeks apart.

  • Dogs can be vaccinated annually upon the recommendation of your veterinarian.

Leotospira

  • Puppies can receive this vaccine as young as 8 weeks old.

  • The vaccine is given in 2 doses that are about 2 to 4 weeks apart.

  • If you live in a high risk area it is recommended to give this vaccine annually.

Non-Core

Canine Lyme Disease

  • This vaccine can be given starting at 9 weeks of age.

  • It is a 2-dose vaccine with doses given between 2 and 4 weeks apart.

  • It is usually given to dogs annually who live in high-risk areas.

Non-Core

Canine Influenza

  • A puppy as young as 6 weeks can receive this vaccine.

  • It is given in 2 doses with the second dose about 2 to 4 weeks after the first.

  • Dogs in high-risk areas are given this vaccine annually, or at least 2 weeks prior to a boarding situation. If your dog had it more than 6 months before boarding the facility will most likely require you to vaccinate your dog again.

Non-Core

Rattlesnake

  • For dogs in high-risk areas, it can be given once a dog is 4 months old.

  • It is usually given in 2 doses about a month apart and sometimes a third dose is used for small and large dogs.

  • It is best to give the vaccine prior to your dog entering a snake habitat, or prior to the spring when rattlesnakes are more active. The vaccine is only effective for 4 to 6 weeks after it is given.

Non-Core

Cost of Dog Vaccinations

A common reason that many dog owners avoid vaccinations is the cost. Considering the financial and emotional costs involved if your dog becomes seriously ill, the cost of dog vaccinations is a small price to pay. According to the American Kennel Club, you can expect to pay around $75 to $100 for all the core vaccines for a puppy. Rabies vaccines will cost an additional $15 to $20. The cost for non-core vaccines on average are:

  • Bordetella, coronavirus, Lyme disease, leptospirosis and canine influence can be about $20 to $30 each.

  • The rattlesnake vaccine can cost between $20 to $40.

Estimating Dog Vaccine Costs

Keep in mind when estimating costs that most veterinarians will also charge for an office visit for administering vaccines. Banfield Pet Hospitals provides a helpful cost estimator to determine what vaccines should cost in your area. It also pays to shop around as many cities have veterinary offices that provide low cost shot clinics and some shelters also offer lower-cost vaccines to the public.

Are Dog Vaccines Safe?

A common reason that people avoid vaccinations for their dogs is fear for their dog's safety. While it's true that vaccinations can put stress on the dog's immune system for several days, these usually produce minor side effects that pass after a few days.

Yellow lab receives vaccination

Adverse Vaccine Reactions in Dogs

Some dogs have severe allergic reactions with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, whole body itching, fever, collapse, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face or legs. This is known as vaccinosis. If these symptoms occur, the dog should receive immediate medical attention.

Are Vaccines Necessary for Your Dog?

While vaccinations can sometimes be a subject up for debate among pet owners, it's best to discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian. While adverse reactions can happen, they're very rare and vaccines can make the difference between life and death for a young puppy who enters the world with limited immunity and is counting on you to care for all of his health needs.

Common Dog Vaccinations and Shot Schedule