HomeBlogHealthWhat Shots Does My Puppy Need? 

What Shots Does My Puppy Need? 

What Shots Does My Puppy Need? 

What Shots Does My Puppy Need? 

Congratulations on your new puppy!

Whether your dog has given birth to a new litter of pups or you’re bringing home a new one, a new puppy is an exciting but daunting experience. Puppies are like babies, and like babies, they need all the time, attention, and care that we can give so they can grow strong, healthy, and loved. Although it is very exciting, it can be very overwhelming to know what to do first and when to do it. And we get it!

One of the most important things that you should prioritize for your puppy is getting them vaccinated. If you have questions like “What are puppy vaccines?” “what vaccines should my puppy get?”, or “When should my puppy get vaccinated?”–you’re at the right place. We are here to help you to get on track and be well-informed on what to do for your puppy.

First things first…

You need to find a good vet for your pup who is willing to answer all of your questions and shares the same values and beliefs that you have in taking care of your puppy. Your puppy’s vet should make you feel comfortable when asking them questions and be very open in explaining things to you. And since you will be doing multiple visits to the vet for your puppy’s series of vaccines, finding the right vet is the key.  This is a lifetime relationship for a family member – you will want to make sure this is someone who will take the time to answer your questions.

If you need help finding a good vet for your puppy’s vaccinations and care, we are here for you! Just contact Gabby so we can help set you up with the perfect vet and the timing of their shots for your pup, giving you the peace of mind that your little ball of fur is in the right hands.

What are Puppy Vaccines?

While the puppies are really young, they nurse on their mom and she gives them immunity from the colostrum in her milk. This form of milk that puppies get from their moms is rich in antibodies and antioxidants that build the puppies’ immune system, allowing them to grow strong as they develop their little barks!

Once the puppies are weaned from their mom, the vaccines are there to help them against possible deadly diseases. Puppy vaccines contain antigens that provide your little puppies with the acquired immunity that allows them to fight infectious diseases. These vaccines are given in series and will be administered to puppies over the course of months to ensure that their body’s immune system is at its best.

What Vaccines Does My Puppy Need?

Your puppy’s age, breed, and health history are the main factors that your veterinarian will look into when identifying which specific shots it needs and when it will be given to them. Since there are a lot of dog vaccines for various illnesses, it can be overwhelming to identify where to start.

One of the first things to understand is the difference between core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are extremely important for your puppies since they are for life-threatening diseases. Once your puppy gets any of these viruses, they get extremely sick, and supportive care is only an attempt to make them feel better.

On the other hand, non-core vaccines are optional and are meant for less-threatening diseases. Oftentimes, non-core vaccines are recommended based on exposure risk or lifestyle. For example, veterinarians would recommend a specific non-core vaccine if you live downtown, in a wooded area, or in a lot of lakes which can be breeding grounds for certain types of viruses. Veterinarians would also recommend certain vaccines like the flu vaccine on certain breeds like pugs and border tellers who have flat faces and have a harder time breathing.

To put it simply, core vaccines are your priority!

What are the Core Vaccines for My Puppy?

Canine Distemper (CDV)

Distemper is a highly contagious virus that causes symptoms like coughing, seizures, vomiting, and fever. This virus can be transferred airborne or through bodily fluids.

Puppies under 4 months are at a higher risk when they contract this disease and the only cure for distemper is supportive care to address the symptoms. In many instances, puppies and dogs come out with long-term neurological problems after they survive distemper.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV-2)

Parvovirus mainly attacks the gastrointestinal system and causes fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and loss of appetite. When the dog is sick, the poop has a particular smell and the dog will get sick fast. Dogs and puppies can experience extreme dehydration that can cause death within 72 hours.

According to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, Rottweilers, Doberman, pinchers, bull terriers, German shepherds, and English springer spaniels are the most vulnerable to parvovirus but all dogs can easily get this. Parvovirus typically spreads through feces and can withstand many disinfectants and can live in an area for up to 7 months.

Canine Parainfluenza

Normally transmitted airborne, the Parainfluenza virus can spread rapidly, especially when dogs and puppies are kept together. Dogs who are infected experience fever, coughing, and nasal discharge due to the viral infection.

It should be noted that canine parainfluenza is not the same as canine influenza. While most dogs recover from canine parainfluenza, they often experience serious complications like pneumonia due to the respiratory infection.

Canine Adenovirus Type 1 and 2

There are two distinct types of canine adenovirus. Adenovirus type 1, which is the more serious of the two types, causes infectious canine hepatitis. This liver disease causes symptoms such as lethargy, fever, abdominal pain, and jaundice. This type of disease can be highly fatal with a mortality rate of only 10-30%. While many dogs can recover after getting adenovirus type 1, a lot of dogs experience eye swelling and inflammation or the “blue eye” due to the infection.

Canine adenovirus type 2, on the other hand, is a respiratory disease with symptoms such as coughing, sore throat, fever, and nasal discharge. Similar to canine parainfluenza, dogs may get complications such as pneumonia but can recover.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is a “fatal but preventable viral disease [which] can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal”. Since the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, it can cause symptoms such as anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis, and eventual death if left untreated.

Noncore Vaccines


Available in the form of nasal sprays and injectables, Bordetella causes coughing and vomiting, and in the worst cases seizures and death. This infection is the primary cause of “kennel cough” which is why there are puppy boarding and training services that require this vaccination.

For example, veterinarians may require dogs with short fat faces like pugs to get vaccinated against Bordetella more frequently since they have a harder time breathing compared to other dog breeds. These types of ailments which can usually cause congestion can be much harder for certain breed types and make it harder for them to get better which is why they may be recommended to get this vaccine regularly.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis, is an inflamed upper airway that is caused by other viral or bacterial infections like Bordetella and Canine Parainfluenza. Most of the time, the symptoms are dry coughing but dogs with severe cases experience loss of appetite, gagging, and retching. Kennel cough is distinguishable by a nagging and “honking” cough that lasts for weeks.

For mild cases, your veterinarian will prescribe a cough suppressant. They may also prescribe an antibiotic just in case of a secondary infection to prevent other ailments such as pneumonia. This type of disease can easily spread among dogs and puppies kept in the same place or kennel.

Canine Coronavirus Vaccine (CCoV)

Different from the COVID-19 virus affecting humans, canine coronavirus affects the gastrointestinal symptom in dogs and does not affect humans. A dog can be infected with canine coronavirus through oral contact with an infected fecal matter or direct contact with an infected dog.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza, also known as “dog flu,” is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious and causes periods of coughing and sneezing. There are two different dog flu viruses which are the H3N2 virus and the H3N8 virus. The main difference between the two is that the H3N2 originated from birds and cats while the H3N8 originated from horses before spreading to dogs.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is typically found in standing water. Sometimes, some dogs may not show any symptoms of leptospirosis infection but do experience vomiting, fever, diarrhea, lethargy, kidney failure, liver failure, and loss of appetite among others. You may notice the whites of your dog’s eyes turning yellow because of jaundice or liver failure. Leptospirosis poses a danger since it is a zoonotic disease that can transfer to humans.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease or “tick disease” is transmitted by ticks and causes an infection that affects the heart, joints, kidneys, and other organs. Dogs with Lyme disease experience rising temperatures, limping, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of appetite. In addition to vaccines, a great way to prevent Lyme disease is by putting your dog on tick-preventive medication, topicals, or wearables.

When Do Puppies Get Their First Shots?

Vaccinations are typically administered in a series of shots over several weeks to build up your pup’s immunity. Typically, it takes around 2 weeks for the vaccines to take effect. Here’s a general guide on the timing of vaccinations:


  • 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus
  • 10-12 weeks: Boosters for Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus plus other vaccines depending on possible risks
  • 14-16 weeks: Boosters for Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus plus other vaccines depending on possible risks
  • Annual: Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Rabies vaccination plus other vaccines depending on possible risks

All in all, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s schedule for your puppy’s vaccination to guarantee that they are protected from preventable diseases, especially during their first year.

No worries! Your trusted veterinarian should know how to handle all of this so make sure to note any questions you have so you can be your puppy’s advocate!

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