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Puppy Immunization Schedule: A Timeline for Pet Parents

puppy immunization schedule

Bringing home a puppy is such an exciting time for your family! As you prepare to welcome your furry bundle of joy, there are lots of considerations to keep in mind. In addition to prepping your home, buying all the chew toys, and stocking up on food and supplies, you’ll also need to plan your pup’s shots. 

Sticking to a veterinarian-recommended puppy immunization schedule helps ensure that your new best friend will stay healthy and happy, especially in the critical first year of life. Today, we’re sharing a breakdown of all the shots they’ll need, and when to get them. 

Why Are Pet Immunizations Necessary?

As puppies grow, their immune systems become strong and capable. However, that isn’t the case when they’re brand-new. In the first weeks and months of their lives, puppies are essentially defenseless, which puts them at risk of contracting an infectious disease. 

You’ll need to visit your vet multiple times when your pup is under one year old. During these visits, they’ll get vaccinated for these diseases, some of which could be fatal without the proper protection, including Distemper and Parvo. 

Instead of administering all their puppy shots at once, your vet will provide you with a schedule that appropriately spaces each one out. The reason for this staggered timeline is that while they’re still feeding from their mother, puppies receive some degree of antibodies from her milk. 

While these antibodies are beneficial, they can also hinder a vaccine’s ability to bind to your puppy’s natural immune response. Allowing a little time between each shot gives their immune system time to strengthen and break through those maternal antibodies, which will eventually decrease as your pup weans. 

Once you’ve taken care of those initial, first-year vaccines, you’ll visit your vet routinely throughout your pup’s lifetime. In addition to providing routine well checks, your vet will also administer vaccine boosters or titers at certain intervals. These help strengthen their immunization against disease and keep their defense levels strong. 

Which Vaccines Does My Puppy Need?

Thankfully, most of the contagious, potentially deadly diseases that could affect your pup in their early life are easily preventable. First-year puppy vaccinations are designed to keep your furball safe and healthy, but it can be challenging to know where to start. 

Let’s take a look at the most common diseases that your vet can help you avoid with vaccines. 

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Do you plan to board your pet at any point? What about taking them to training classes, dog parks, or doggy daycare services? If your pup will be around other dogs or animals, you’ll most likely need to show proof of their Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine.

This condition is caused by a very contagious bacterium that spreads easily, especially in groups of animals. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Whooping

In severe cases, Bordetella Bronchiseptica can cause seizures. It can even be fatal. This condition is also the leading cause of kennel cough, a contagious respiratory condition that affects dogs. 

Some of the signs of kennel cough include:

  • Sudden, frequent cough
  • Gagging or retching sounds
  • Frothy spittle
  • Sneezing
  • Runny eyes and nose

The Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine is available as an injectable or nasal spray. Your vet can recommend the appropriate type for your pup. 

Canine Hepatitis

Canine Hepatitis is a contagious, infectious disease that affects many parts of a dog’s body, including their kidneys, liver, spleen, and eyes. While it sounds similar to the human form of Heptatitis, this condition is not the same. As the virus attacks a dog’s liver, it can cause a range of symptoms that include:

This disease can be mild, moderate, or severe/fatal. While there’s currently no cure for Canine Hepatitis, vets can administer pet medications to help treat the symptoms. 

Parvovirus

Unvaccinated dogs under four months old are most at risk of contracting Parvovirus, although it can affect dogs at any age. Like many puppy viruses, this one affects a dog’s gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms that include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe, bloody diarrhea

These symptoms are not only uncomfortable for your pup, but they can also lead to serious dehydration, which can be fatal without prompt treatment. Until a dog’s immune system can overcome the illness, most vets will recommend keeping them well-hydrated and controlling the secondary symptoms. 

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper is one of the most severe and contagious diseases, affecting a variety of animals including dogs, skunks, and raccoons. It spreads easily through airborne exposure from one infected animal to another, or when animals share food, water, or equipment. 

This virus affects the following parts of a dog’s body:

  • Respiratory system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Nervous system

Some of the signs of Canine Distemper include:

  • Coughing 
  • Vomiting
  • Discharge from the nose and eyes
  • Fever 
  • Thick, hard footpad

More severe forms of the condition can cause seizures or twitching, eventually leading to paralysis and death. Due to its effect on a dog’s footpad, it was formerly called “Hard Pad” though Canine Distemper is now the more common term. 

While there’s not a cure for this disease, vets can provide care and medications to help control symptoms and prevent secondary infections. 

Canine Coronavirus

Yes, this condition shares a name with the COVID-19 virus that affects people. However, these two conditions are not the same. While COVID-19 can affect dogs, the symptoms are usually mild and don’t make them seriously ill. 

Rather, Canine Coronavirus is its own disease, normally affecting a dog’s gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. Affected dogs will exhibit telltale signs of GI distress, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite 

To help soothe symptoms, vets will recommend keeping the pup hydrated and comfortable, though there’s no medication to cure the disease. 

Leptospirosis

While most puppy illnesses are caused by a virus, Leptospirosis is the exception. This condition develops when dogs are exposed to bacteria in soil or water. It’s known as a zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from animals to people.

Although some dogs might not show any symptoms, ones that do may experience the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diahrrea 
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Jaundice
  • Infertility
  • Kidney failure 

There are antibiotics that can treat Leptospirosis, and they should be given ASAP to help relieve symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. 

Rabies

While you might think of Rabies as affecting raccoons, squirrels, and other wild mammals, dogs can get it, too. It’s typically transmitted through the bite of an affected animal. 

This condition targets the central nervous system, with symptoms that can include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Excessive drooling
  • Anxiety

In addition, cases of rabies can also cause paralysis or death. Unless treatment is given within hours, most cases are fatal. If your state requires regular rabies vaccinations, your vet will follow the proper schedule to ensure protection. 

Vet-Recommended Puppy Immunization Schedule

Now that we’ve covered the most common conditions that pet immunizations can target, let’s take a look at the timeline. While this is the general progression that most vets recommend, keep in mind that there isn’t a standard schedule that works for all pups. 

Factors that could affect the number of shots your pet needs, and when they need them include:

  • Your geographic location 
  • Individual risk factors
  • Veterinarian guidance and recommendations

Here’s a breakdown of when these shots are often given, as well as optional vaccines you can request at the same time. 

Six to Eight Weeks

Around the 6-8 month mark, your vet will administer Distemper and Parvovirus vaccines. This is also when an optional Bordetella vaccine can be given. 

10 to 12 Weeks

At 10 to 12 weeks, the recommended vaccine is DHHP which covers distemper, parainfluenza, hepatitis, and parvovirus. You can also request immunizations against other common conditions that affect dogs this age, including:

  • Influenza
  • Bordetella
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease

16 to 18 Weeks

The 16-18-week mark is another time for the DHHP vaccine, as well as a Rabies shot. Optional vaccines also given at this time can include:

  • Coronavirus
  • Bordetella
  • Lyme disease
  • Leptospirosis

Every 1 to 2 Years

Every one or two years, your vet will want to see your pup for a DHHP booster shot. If you opted for an Influenza, Coronavirus, Bordetella, Leptospirosis, or Lyme disease vaccination earlier, your vet can also boost it at this time. 

In addition, you may also be required to update your pup’s Rabies shot every one to three years, if your state law requires it. 

Protect Your Pup From the Start

As a responsible and loving pet parent, you know there are certain steps you can take to give your four-legged friend the best life possible. Staying diligent with your puppy immunization schedule is one of them. 

While this is the most commonly recommended timeline, it’s critical to work closely with a trusted local vet. Your pup might need all of these immunizations or just certain ones. They may also require additional shots beyond what’s listed here. 

At All Animals Vet Clinic, we’d love to help take care of your new, furry family member. We’re experienced in all aspects of veterinary care and can work with you to determine the ideal vaccination schedule for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

The All Animal Vet Clinic is here to help guide you through the journey of owning a new puppy.

Contact us to schedule an appointment in our Lebanon, Indiana Clinic.