When it comes to vaccinations against disease, dogs are just like humans: A few injections from a needle can save your puppy from suffering unnecessarily from a disease, or even dying prematurely from preventable causes.
While some vaccinations, such as for rabies, may be required by state and/or local law, many other vaccinations for your puppy aren’t legally required, but they are strongly recommended by vets. By staying on top of immunizations for your dog—especially in their first year of life—you can preserve their long-term health and their overall quality of life.
But with so many vaccinations to track before a puppy reaches adulthood, it can be tough to stick to the recommended puppy vaccination schedule. Here’s a breakdown of that schedule—as well as costs and other considerations—to help keep dog owners on track.
When Do Puppies Get Shots?
Most puppies start receiving vaccinations once they’re six years old. While the majority of vaccinations will take place in the first year of your dog’s life, regular boosters—some annually, some less frequent—will be required throughout your dog’s life.
What shots do puppies need at 6 weeks and beyond? Here’s a breakdown of the typical dog vaccination schedule:
- 6 weeks: DHPP and rabies vaccines
- 9 weeks: DHPP booster
- 12 weeks: DHPP booster
- 16 weeks: DHPP booster and bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine
- 1 year: DHPP booster and rabies booster
Keep in mind that this recommended vaccination schedule may vary from one vet to another, and may depend on each dog’s health and living situation. Kennel cough vaccines, for example, may be administered to dogs as young as eight weeks old.
Booster shots for both DHPP and rabies are recommended every one to three years after the dogs’ first birthday. Some vets may also recommend a Lyme disease vaccination for dogs at a high risk of this condition. Always talk to your dog’s vet to make sure you’re tracking their recommendation vaccination schedule for your dog.
What is the DHPP Vaccine for Dogs?
Keeping track of your dogs’ vaccinations is much easier when packaged into the DHPP vaccine. This 5-in-1 shot inoculates your dog against distemper, hepatitis/adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.
DHPP can also be provided as a booster shot when your dog is due for another vaccination, and this shot is widely available at almost all veterinary offices around the country.
Will My Puppy Suffer Side Effects from Vaccination?
While vaccinations for your dog are rigorously vetted and extremely safe, it’s possible that your dog will experience short-term side effects after receiving a vaccination.
For the most part, all vaccines your dog will receive are equally likely to produce similar side effects. The rabies vaccine’s side effects on dogs, for example, have not shown to be dramatically different from the side effects seen with other vaccines. Common side effects include:
- Tenderness at the vaccination site for one to two days after the injection;
- Loss of appetite;
- Reduced activity levels;
- Redness and/or mild swelling at the vaccination site;
- Mild fever;
- Sneezing or other respiratory discomfort for two to four days after intranasal vaccinations.
If your dog experiences more severe side effects than the reactions described above—or if your dog has a history of extreme reactions to vaccination—it’s recommended that you tell your veterinarian before administering a vaccine.
How Much Are Puppies’ First Shots?
The typical cost to give your puppy its core vaccinations will range from $75 to $100, although that number can be affected by a number of factors, including where you get the vaccinations, and whether you choose to add non-core vaccines to your dog’s vaccination schedule. Non-core vaccines may cost around $20 per shot, including for each booster. Check with your local vet to confirm prices in your area.
Lower-cost options for core vaccines may also be available through local clinics and government organizations. Since the rabies vaccine is legally required in many localities, the rabies shot for dogs may cost less through a local organization than other non-core vaccines. You might even be able to find organizations offering free pet vaccinations in your area—conduct an online search for “free pet vaccinations near me,” or check with your vet and/or local humane society to find out where low-cost or free vaccinations may be offered.
While your puppy’s first year of vaccinations will keep you busy and making frequent visits to the vet, these vaccinations will protect your dog from serious and life-threatening conditions that can affect both puppies and adult dogs alike. While immunization shots are never fun, you’ll be glad you put your dog through the short-term discomfort of a vaccine injection in exchange for the opportunity to give your dog a long, healthy, fulfilling life.