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DOG / health & care

Puppy Vaccinations: When to Get Them and Why

Shots are the most important protection for your pet's health

Overview

Puppy’s first shots

Puppies need their first vaccinations at six to eight weeks old. Whether you adopt a puppy or buy one, make sure you get any medical records. In their first year, fur-babies will need to visit the vet a few times for immunizations and regular booster shots.

When to vaccinate?

Vaccines are only effective once a puppy has been weaned. Your vet will advise you on the immunizations that are best for your dog, which depend on many factors including where you live and how many other pets are in your home.

Most states require that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies. Be sure to keep proof that your dog’s shots are up-to-date.

Must-have shots

All puppies should be immunized against parvovirus, distemper, rabies and hepatitis.

Vaccination schedule

Puppies receive most of their vaccinations every two to four weeks until they are at least 14 weeks old. Some vaccinations are given as a combination, such as the DHLPPC, which helps protect against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, parvo and corona. Other vaccinations are administered one at a time.

If your dog is over 16 weeks old and isn’t up-to-date on shots, or if you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry: Your vet may recommend starting the vaccination process again. You can use this chart to help you keep track of when your puppy needs which shots:

DHLPPC

  • First vaccination: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Second vaccination: 9 to 11 weeks
  • Third vaccination: 12 to 14 weeks
  • Fourth vaccination: 16 to 17 weeks
  • Booster shots: 12 months

Bordetella

  • First vaccination: 14 weeks
  • Booster shots: 6 months

Rabies

  • First vaccination: 16 weeks (varies by state)
  • Booster shots: 12-36 months

Giardia

  • First vaccination: 14 weeks
  • Second vaccination: 17 weeks
  • Booster shots: 12 months

Lyme

  • First vaccination: 14 weeks
  • Second vaccination: 17 weeks
  • Booster shots: 12 months