Dog Vaccine Checklist: Make Sure Your Pup Is Protected

Perhaps one of the most vital aspects of becoming a new pet parent is ensuring your new companion remains happy and healthy. Much like babies, newborn puppies are susceptible to all kinds of bacteria and viruses that their immune system can’t fight off on its own.

It’s up to you to keep up with the dog vaccine checklist to make sure they’re getting all the shots they need.

Dog Vaccine Checklist

So, when do puppies need shots? This is a common question that many newly-minted pet owners bring up. And the answer? A specific timeline needs to be followed to ensure your pet gets all the protection it needs.

Another important piece of information is how many shots do puppies need. Among the vaccines available, a distinct line is drawn between core and non-core shots. The former are considered an absolute necessity and recommended by most vets to combat the most notorious diseases. Conversely, the latter might be useful in certain situations, based on your dog’s lifestyle and environmental conditions.

Here’s an overview of all the core and non-core vaccines your pooch might have to get:

Age Core Non-core
6-8 weeks DAPP/DHP Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Canine Parainfluenza

10-12 weeks DAPP/DHP


Canine influenza


14-16 weeks DAPP/DHP


Canine influenza


Annual Rabies



Canine influenza


Every three years DAPP/DHP /

When Do Puppies Get Their First Shots

Generally speaking, most pups get their first vaccine by the time they’re 6–8 weeks old. Each visit to the doctor is approximately every four weeks, with each one being administered at a particular time.

The exact puppy vaccine schedule will likely be determined by your veterinarian and may vary depending on your specific breed and its current health status.

What Vaccines Do Puppies Need

Now, what does each of the aforementioned shots mean? Of course, it’s somewhat comforting to know exactly what the jab is for and its main function.


This is a highly contagious disease that targets the central nervous system in mammals. Transmission is mostly through airborne exposure coming from a rabid animal, but sharing toys and food can also result in an acute infection. The rabies vaccine for dogs is the safest way to stop this from happening.

For canines, the most common symptoms include excessive drooling, separation anxiety, fear of water, aggression, hallucinations, paralysis, and death. Since there’s no specific treatment for this condition, taking preventative measures is essential. Pups under four months of age and unvaccinated dogs are the ones with the greatest risk of developing fatal consequences.


Next up on the list of core shots for puppies is a combination vaccine that protects against a few conditions. This is why an acronym is often used, as it stands for Canine Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Canine Hepatitis, and Parvovirus.

These super contagious viruses wreak havoc on dogs’ immune, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The most serious cases experience acute pain, jaundice,  seizures, twitching, and other GI symptoms such as retching, gagging, and stomach enlargement. Some even have organ damage over time, often requiring hospitalization to mitigate the impact.

In particular, parvo shots for puppies are thought to be quite effective, as they raise the survival rate to anywhere from 70% to 92%. Given the high mortality rate among canines with this condition, the numbers are encouraging and can make all the difference when it comes to treatment.


This condition is caused by an infectious bacterium carried by wildlife and rodents across the world. In most cases, pups are exposed to the bacteria Leptospira through contaminated water. Some canines then develop symptoms, whereas others show no signs of infection at all.

Whether or not a specific dog develops symptoms depends largely on its vaccination status and immune system. This is particularly true for those that tend to roam about in rural areas, where there’s a higher chance of them coming into contact with contaminants. This is why the leptospirosis vaccine is considered indispensable in the puppy vaccine schedule.


Also known as kennel cough, this is a respiratory disease that leads to severe dry coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and congestion. If not treated properly, it could result in irritation of the trachea and inflammation of the bronchi, also known as pneumonia.

Despite being considered non-core, most vets vehemently suggest getting the shot, especially if you plan to take it to daycare. It’s available through injections, oral medications, and nasal spray vaccines. Your vet should be able to advise you on which form is the most suitable one for your pup.

Lyme Disease

This tick-borne disease causes swollen lymph nodes and joints, fatigue, loss of appetite, lethargic behavior, and limping. Since ticks are more common in grassy or wooded areas, dogs that live in such environments are more prone to developing symptoms. The initial dose is administered at around 10-12 weeks, with several follow-up booster shots later on.

In addition to the vaccine itself, you could take other tick-preventative measures to keep them at bay. Oral or topical treatments are both available and the choice of medication is generally determined by your vet.

Canine Influenza Virus

The classic dog flu rounds off the list of non-core vaccinations, often resulting in respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, congestion, and general weakness. Most pups with weakened immune systems show signs of an infection, with more severe cases even resulting in pneumonia.

If your pooch is in contact with other canines, such as daycare, kennel, or at the groomer’s, getting this vaccine could save you a lot of headaches down the road. Even though it’s not a mandatory shot for dog immunization, it offers major befits that could save your pup’s life.

How Much Are Puppy Shots

How much each vaccine will set you back is mainly determined by the area you live in, your provider, and whether you’re dealing with core or non-core jabs. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the initial vaccination protocol costs are usually higher in the first year of their life due to the sheer number of visits that take place. Here’s what you can expect in terms of price:

Dog Vaccines Price
DAP/DHP $25–$50 per dose
Influenza $30–$50 per dose
Bordetella $19–$50 per dose
Canine Coronavirus Included in 7-in-1 vaccines
Rabies $15–$50 per dose
Leptospirosis $30–$50 per dose
Lyme disease $30–$50 per dose

Boosters and Titers: Vaccination for Adult Dogs

There is a rift among professionals as to whether adult dogs should receive repeat vaccinations each year. Some are more inclined towards the benefits of this routine practice, whereas others argue it could pose a health risk for certain breeds.

If you want to be sure of what the best course of action is, your vet can run titer tests before each jab. This can help determine your pet’s immunity levels and give an indication of whether getting a vaccine is necessary or not.

Key Takeaways

All things considered, following the general dog vaccine checklist can help you keep your four-legged friend safe from known bacterial infections and viruses. Taking the necessary steps to keep contaminants at bay is your best bet in ensuring a long and healthy life for your companion.

Frequently Asked Questions

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