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Dog Vaccination: Everything You Need to Know

With our dogs and other pets, we give them enough love and care for their whole lives.

Part of that journey includes keeping up with their vaccination schedules.

If you own a dog or are considering getting one, we encourage you to read this article and learn everything there is to know about dog vaccinations.

What is a Dog Vaccination?

A dog vaccination protects the body from unwanted viruses and diseases.

It works the same way as vaccines for humans and provides extra protection to the immune system.

The way pet vaccination works is antigens that mimic a specific disease released into the body.

The antigens will not cause the disease but instead trains the immune system to recognize it.

When the dog becomes exposed to that disease, the body will know how to fight against it.

Many optional dog vaccines are available for all types of diseases, and most owners get most of them done when the dogs are in their puppy stage.

Why Are Dog Vaccinations Important?

Most dogs like to explore their surroundings, and sometimes they stumble onto contaminated things or come in contact with disease-ridden animals like rats or raccoons.

Not only will you protect your dog or puppy from disease-causing organisms, but you also eliminate the chance of spreading it to other pets and animals.

Some facilities require your dog to have all its vaccination.

Without the proper documents, your dog will seem like a potential threat to other pets in the area.

Related: Most Common Diseases in Dogs and Their Symptoms

What Vaccines Does Your Dog Need?

When setting up your dog vaccination schedule, the first thing to consider is what vaccine is needed.

There are many diseases a dog can get, and the vaccines for them are divided into two categories: the core vaccines and the non-core vaccines.

Core Vs. Non-Core Vaccines

A core vaccine is a vaccine recommended for all pets.

This vaccination doesn’t apply to only dogs but cats and other domestic animals as well.

A non-core vaccine is a pet vaccination based on the dog’s medical history and lifestyle.

Core Vaccines

Any start to puppy care begins with core vaccination.

The appointed veterinarian will recommend several vaccines your dog needs to maintain a healthy immune system.

Here are some core vaccines your canine companion will need.


Rabies vaccination is the first treatment considered for all pets.

Rabies in dogs is a disease that spreads from a bite and inflames the entire nervous system.

All pets require a rabies vaccine by law because the disease is also transmissible to humans.

Prolonging this vaccination leaves your dog exposed to a fatal rabies bite.


The DHPP vaccine protects dogs from a collection of four different viruses. These viruses include the distemper virus, canine hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

The immunization protocol requires all dogs to have this core vaccination at a young age to boost the immune system.


The parvovirus is a contagious disease that weakens a dog’s bone marrow and destroys the intestines.

Over time, the body becomes too weak and dehydrated to move.

This core dog vaccination prevents your dog from getting sick through direct or indirect contact with infected feces.

A prolonged treatment gives the parvovirus a chance to reach humans.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is an acute but contagious disease that affects the dog’s liver.

It begins with a high fever and slowly affects the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and other organs.

Pet vaccinations require this vaccine a top priority for most dogs as their discharged saliva and feces can become lethal to others.

Canine Parainfluenza

Canine Influenza, also known as the dog flu, is a respiratory disease caused by a dog-specific influenza virus.

Crowded kennels or dog parks have a high chance of canine influenza exposure.

Puppy vaccinations for the disease are a must because there is no cure, and long-term exposure can lead to severe lung damage.

Canine Distemper Virus

The distemper virus is a fatal disease that requires emergency care.

Dogs and other animals catch the virus through airborne transmission, affecting their brain, lungs, and spine.

It is a puppy vaccine because dogs below four months have a higher risk of exposure to their underdeveloped immune systems.

Non-Core Vaccines

These canine vaccinations are not as critical as the core vaccines, but a professional veterinarian will suggest them based on your dog’s breed and history.

If you aim to keep a vaccination schedule, learn about these possible diseases and see if your dog will need a vaccine for them.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in contaminated water.

A dog is at risk when it drinks from a bowl or water source mixed with infected matter or pee.

There is little risk of exposure in most areas, but locations with tainted water make it a requirement for most dogs and pets.


Giardia is a one-cell organism that gives a dog terrible diarrhea and makes their feces smell worse than usual.

Long-term symptoms lead to vomiting and a loss of appetite.

Administering this non-core vaccine at an early puppy stage promises parasite prevention and avoids a ruptured intestine.

Lyme Disease

Dogs and puppies can get Lyme disease through bites from infected ticks and dog fleas.

While the ticks feed, their bacteria spread to the dog’s joints and cause acute arthritis.

It is more common for dogs with an outdoor lifestyle as they can get ticks from their surrounding environment.

Kennel Cough

The Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease severe for puppies six months of age.

The name comes from the point of contact where large groups exist, like dog parks and daycares.

The most recognizable symptom is a loud cough that resembles a honking sound.

How Often Does Your Dog Need to be Vaccinated?

A dog vaccination schedule depends on the pet and the personalized plan given by the veterinarian.

Non-core vaccinations should happen annually, while core vaccinations need administration every three years.

Also, an adult dog would not need a tight vaccination schedule as a puppy would.

Vaccination plan for dogs and puppies

The vaccines vary according to the age of the dog. A vaccination plan for dogs and puppies is as follows:

  • For puppies of 5 weeks first dose of Puppy DP vaccine against parvo and distemper
  • Between 9 and 12 weeks, the polyvalent vaccine against parvo, distemper, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and leptospirosis is placed.
  • After 4 weeks the second dose of polyvalent reinforcement should be placed to ensure that the puppy has correctly developed its immunity.
  • When the puppy has between 3 and 6 months we can vaccinate against rabies.

When Should Your Puppy Get Their First Shot?

Core puppy vaccinations occur when the pup is six to eight weeks old.

From there, the veterinarian will administer shots every 2-4 weeks until the immune system has gotten stronger.

This treatment continues until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age.

Vaccines for Puppies Under Two Months of Age

The first vaccine that can be placed on a puppy is called “Puppy DP”, which protects against parvo and distemper.

It is about five weeks of life.

Normally days before the first vaccine, you will have to give your puppy an internal deworming.

However, consult your veterinarian because this vaccine is not always given.

It is not advisable to put it in puppies that are still nursing. In fact, there are veterinarians who do not recommend at all to put this vaccine, except in cases of very specific risk.

In many cases, it is expected that the puppy has completed two months to put the first dose of polyvalent vaccine, which we explain in the next point.

Vaccines for Dogs and Puppies Older Than Two Months

The dog vaccination schedule begins with a multipurpose vaccine dose when the puppy is between 9 and 12 weeks old.

The polyvalent vaccine protects against parvovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and leptospirosis.

After 4 weeks from the first vaccine, reinforcement should be placed, which is a second dose reminder to promote the dog’s immunity against these diseases.

The rabies vaccine is given when the dog is between 3 and 6 months old.

This is a mandatory vaccine by law in most countries, since rabies disease can be transmitted to humans.

Vaccines for Adult Dogs

What vaccines should I give to an adult dog?

From one year of life, a dose of polyvalent vaccine against parvovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and leptospirosis is repeated.

Likewise, the rabies vaccine is repeated.

And from here you can get polyvalent every 3 years (or as required by the legal norm of your country), and rage as required by law in each country.

Recommended Article:

How Much Do Dog Vaccinations Cost?

The cost of core dog vaccinations depends on numerous factors like location and state, but they generally average $75-100.

Some clinics offer puppy rabies vaccines at $15-20.

If you are getting the dog from a shelter, they are more than likely vaccinated.

If not, the animal shelter can sometimes offer vaccines for free or $20, depending on the area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about dog vaccines and how to prioritize a vaccination schedule?

Here are some more questions and answers concerning dog vaccinations.

image showing a dog vaccination about to take place

Why is the Same Amount of Vaccine Given to a Small Dog and a Large Dog?

Every dog needs a specific amount of virus particles to stimulate its immune system.

The size of the dog does not affect the dosage amount.

If a small dog receives a small dose of the vaccine, there wouldn’t be enough virus particles to protect the dog against infectious diseases.

What Happens if Your Dog is Sick When Vaccinated?

It is dangerous to vaccinate a sick dog.

Unhealthy dogs that get a vaccination shot are not guaranteed immunity from other diseases.

Also, your dog might experience a terrible reaction to the vaccination depending on the sickness.

The reactions can range from fever to anaphylactic shocks or even a fatal death.

Will Vaccination Make Your Dog Sick?

A dog feeling sick after getting a vaccination shot is a common side effect.

Depending on the dog’s stamina and condition, these effects can last for a day or two after the administered vaccine.

The common symptoms include vomiting, low mood, loss of appetite, high temperature, and diarrhea.

Can You Walk Your Dog After Vaccination?

Walking your dog after vaccination depends on its condition and how well it’s feeling.

The body needs time to adjust to the antigens.

In the case of puppies, most veterinarians allow owners to walk their pups a week after the second dose of vaccinations.

Can You Vaccinate Your Dog Yourself?

There are vaccination kits available for dog owners to do themselves, but most veterinarians are against it.

If your dog experiences a bad reaction to the vaccine, there would be no professional help nearby.

Also, the law requires rabies vaccines to be administered by a professional veterinarian.

Wrapping Up

Dog vaccination is a subject that every dog owner must learn.

Knowing the types of vaccines and which of them are required will keep your dog healthy for years to come.

What was your first-time experience with dog vaccinations, and how did your dog feel afterward?

Please leave your comments, thoughts, and experiences down below.

We love our pets with all our hearts, so giving them the best vaccination schedule keeps them with us a little longer.

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