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The Puppy Vaccine Schedule

puppy vaccine schedule

This article will answer two questions.

1. Which vaccines does my puppy need?
2. What is the puppy vaccine schedule?

Going to the vet repeatedly over several months for the puppy vaccine schedule, and then for boosters or titers throughout your dog’s life, may seem like an inconvenience, but the diseases that vaccinations will shield your pets from are dangerous, potentially deadly, and thankfully, mostly preventable.

We read about so many different vaccines, for so many different illnesses, that it can sometimes be confusing to know which vaccines on the puppy vaccine schedule puppies need and which ones are important but optional. Here is an overview of the diseases that vaccinations will help your pet avoid.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

This highly infectious bacterium causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and, in rare cases, seizures and death. It is the primary cause of kennel cough. There are injectable and nasal spray vaccines available and are included in the puppy vaccine schedule.

If you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, grooming services, attending group training classes, or using dog daycare services, often proof of this vaccination will be a requirement each year, and sometimes some facilities require this vaccine twice yearly.

Canine Distemper

A severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal (GI), and nervous systems of dogs, raccoons, skunks, and other animals, distemper spreads through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted by shared food and water bowls and equipment. It causes discharges from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and, often, death. This disease used to be known as “hard pad” because it causes the footpad to thicken and harden.

There is no cure for distemper. Treatment consists of supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections, control symptoms of vomiting, seizures and more.

If the animal survives the symptoms, it is hoped that the dog’s immune system will have a chance to fight it off. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months. If the dog survives the initial illness, some think it might have been best had they not, as scarring of the brain can occur, life-long seizures and other symptoms of life-long remnants and issues related to the initial illness. This vaccnie is included in the puppy vaccine schedule.

Canine Hepatitis

Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, lungs, and the eyes of the affected dog. This disease of the liver is caused by a virus that is unrelated to the human form of hepatitis. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can overcome the mild form of the disease, but the severe form can kill. There is no cure, but doctors can treat the symptoms.

Canine Parainfluenza

One of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough.

Coronavirus (Few Veterinarians if any, still routinely vaccinate for Coronavirus in Canines)
The canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. COVID-19 is not thought to be a health threat to dogs, and there is no evidence it makes dogs sick. Canine coronavirus usually affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems, though it can also cause respiratory infections. Signs include most GI symptoms, including loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Doctors can keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable, and help alleviate nausea, but no drug kills coronaviruses.

Heartworm Disease

When your puppy is around 12-to-16 weeks, talk to your vet about starting a heartworm preventive. Though there is no vaccine for this condition, it is easily preventable with regularly administered heartworm medication that your veterinarian will prescribe.

Many of the monthly Flea/Tick preventions will offer a Heartworm preventative along with the others in the same pill, or, Veterinarians now prefer an every six month injection for Heartworm prevention that is very effective, and takes compliance in a timely fashion off the table of set backs.

Speak to your Veterinarian of choice and ask if they recommend the injection every six months (ProHeart) or if they prefer you include Heartworm prevention along with your other monthly preventions. We suggest that once you choose your preventative, set your phone reminder for each month, so you can dose your pet every month, and stay right on schedule.

The name is descriptive — these worms lodge in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries (that send blood to the lungs), though they can travel through the rest of the body and sometimes invade the liver and kidneys. The worms can grow to 14 inches long and, if clumped together, block and injure organs.

A new heartworm infection often causes no symptoms, though dogs in later stages of the disease may cough, become lethargic, lose their appetite or have difficulty breathing. Infected dogs may tire after mild exercise. Unlike most of the conditions listed here, which are passed by urine, feces, and other body fluids, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. Therefore, diagnosis is made via a blood test and not a fecal exam.

Kennel Cough

Also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough results from inflammation of the upper airways. It can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and often involves multiple infections simultaneously. Usually, the disease is mild, causing bouts of harsh, dry coughing; sometimes it’s severe enough to spur retching and gagging, along with a loss of appetite. In rare cases, it can be deadly. It is easily spread between dogs kept close together, which is why it passes quickly through kennels. Antibiotics are usually not necessary, except in severe, chronic cases. Cough suppressants can make a dog more comfortable.


Unlike most diseases on this list, Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria, and is prevalent in South Florida in areas with standing water, which is nearly everywhere, and some dogs may show no symptoms at all. Leptospirosis can be found worldwide in soil and water. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people. When symptoms do appear, they can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, kidney failure (with or without liver failure). Antibiotics are effective, and the sooner they are given, the better.

Lyme Disease

Unlike the famous “bull’s-eye” rash that people exposed to Lyme disease often spot, no such telltale symptom occurs in dogs. Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by a type of bacteria called a spirochete. Transmitted via ticks, an infected dog often starts limping, his lymph nodes swell, his temperature rises, and he stops eating. The disease can affect his heart, kidney, and joints, among other things, or lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. If diagnosed quickly, a course of antibiotics is extremely helpful, though relapses can occur months or even years later.


Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the most risk to contract it, which is hy it is on the puppy vaccine schedule. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal system and creates a loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, and often severe, bloody diarrhea. Extreme dehydration can come on rapidly and kill a dog within 48-to-72 hours, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms can keep him going until his immune system beats the illness.

Parvo virus is extremely opportunistic, and can attack a young puppy who has been fully vaccinated, on the puppy vaccine schedule. The Noble Paw goes above and beyond providing single antigen Parvo-only vaccines, in addition to the typical 4-way vaccine, on a very progressive puppy vaccine schedule, in an effort to protect all puppies who come through our store. Even with the best precautions, a young puppy can get Parvo because stress, travel, and timing of the loss of maternal anti-body against the virus is so delicate and exact timing unknown. Every effort is made by The Noble Paw to avoid such an occurrence.


Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that invades the central nervous system, causing headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, paralysis, and death. It is most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Treatment within hours of infection is essential, otherwise, death is highly likely. Most states require regular rabies vaccinations and is included in the puppy vaccine schedule. Check with your vet about rabies vaccination laws and requirements for the puppy vaccine schedule in your area. Once your puppy is an adult, Rabies vaccine, as well as all the other core vaccines can be given in three-year rotational cycles.

Of course, your veterinarian should weigh in and can always provide more information and guidance if needed on necessary and optional vaccinations.

The Puppy Vaccine Schedule

The first thing to know is that there is not just one puppy vaccination schedule for all dogs. Factors such as which part of the country you live in, and your dog’s individual risk factors, lifestyle, etc., will come into play. Some dogs do not need every vaccine. This decision is between you and your veterinarian. Always discuss puppy vaccinations at your regularly scheduled appointments.

That said, here is a generally accepted guideline of the puppy vaccination schedule for the first year.

Puppy’s Age Recommended Vaccinations

6 — 8 weeks: Distemper, parvovirus, Bordetella
OPTIONAL VACCINE: Neopar Single Antigen in Addition

10 — 12 weeks: DA2PP (vaccines for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus) Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle as recommended by your veterinarian.

16 — 18 weeks: DA2PP, rabies, Influenza, Lyme disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella per lifestyle.

12 — 16 months: DA2PP, rabies, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease

Every 1 — 3 years: DA2PP Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease per lifestyle

Every 1 — 3 years: Rabies (as required by law)

Puppy Vaccine Schedule Cost

How much vaccinations for your puppy will cost depends on several factors. Where you live is one: Veterinarians in crowded and expensive urban areas will charge more than a rural vet in a small town. In other words, there are significant differences in price. But no matter what the range in costs, some vaccines, such as the “core vaccines,” and for rabies, are absolutely necessary. The Noble Paw Veterinarian, PetLife, offers many very discounted “vaccine packages” in an effort to keep all vaccines affordable and accessible to every pet owner, so even if a bit further than some local veterinarians, it may be worthwhile for you to contact PetLife at 561-790-6464.

The average cost can average around $75—$200. These will include the core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6-, 12-, and 16 weeks old, or, at every three-week intervals from the date they initially began.

The core vaccines include the DA2LPPV (distemper, adenovirus 2, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza). Your pup will also need a rabies vaccination, which is usually around $20—45, depending on whether your pet receives the 1 year or 3-year Rabies Vaccine. (Some clinics include the cost of the rabies vaccination.)

The initial puppy vaccination costs during the first year are higher than during adulthood because they need Boosters often during that first year of life.

Vaccinations for Adult Dogs: Boosters and Titers

There is a difference of opinion, as mentioned above, about having your adult dog vaccinated every year, with every vaccine, or being on a rotational cycle. Some vets believe too many vaccinations in adult dogs pose health risks. But others disagree, saying that yearly vaccinations will prevent dangerous diseases such as distemper. Talk with your veterinarian about the puppy vaccine schedule to determine what kind of vaccination protocol works for you and your dog.

Many dog owners opt for titer tests before they administer annual vaccinations, to see if the protection that earlier vaccines provided are still high enough to continue to protect. Titer tests measure a dog’s immunity levels, and this can determine which, if any, vaccinations are necessary. One key exception to this is rabies: a titer test is not an option when it comes to the rabies vaccine. This vaccination is required by law across the United States. Your vet can tell you the schedule for your particular state.

And it’s all worth it. For your effort and care your puppy will lavish you with lifelong love in return. This critical first year of her life is a fun and exciting time for both of you. As he/she grows physically, the wonderful bond between you will grow, too.

Did you know food is a major contributor to great health? Check out this article about food now!


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