Puppy Tips

Your Puppy’s First-Year Shot Schedule: Explained

If you’ve just gotten a new puppy, there are many things on your to-do list. Preparing your house, finding a vet and hiding your socks are just a few things you might need to do. There are lots of things that puppy owners have to worry about – and health issues down the line are a natural thing to be stressed over.

The good thing is that just like humans, puppies receive vaccines and shots to protect them from diseases and viruses. Getting your puppy their shots is a vital first step to giving their body the tools to stay healthy.

But which shots do you need to get? And at which stages do puppies get their various shots? It can be overwhelming to decipher just what your puppy needs for shots, so let’s break it down.

How do shots protect my pup?

Similar to human shots, these injections contain antigens that bolster your puppy’s immune system and enable the body to fight off any diseases. By introducing a disease in a small amount to your puppy’s body, if it is ever exposed again, their body will know how to fight it off. Some diseases that shots protect your pup from can be fatal, so it is essential to keep your puppy on track to get all their vaccines.

Which shots does my puppy need, and when?

The shots your puppy receives at their vet are crucial to their health and help them fight any possibly fatal diseases. Your vet will know what your pooch needs specifically, but it is good to know the core vaccines that all puppies should get.

These shots for your puppy are spaced out over the first year; some vaccinations require multiple shots.

Core vaccines

6-8 Weeks

The first set of shots your puppy will receive is better known as DHP or DAP, and it targets three diseases.

  • Distemper – Canine distemper is rather severe, and there is no known cure. It is airborne and can be caught from a sneeze, cough, or shared water and food bowls. Some symptoms include fever, vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Unfortunately, it often results in death. Your puppy must get the core vaccination at this age.

  • Parvovirus – This virus is very contagious and attacks the gastrointestinal system and causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fever. The dehydration this can cause poses a significant threat to the health of any dog who catches it. Unvaccinated dogs are at a higher risk of catching this, so it is vital to get this core shot to protect your puppy from Parvo.

  • Hepatitis – Canine hepatitis is a viral infection unrelated to the human version of hepatitis. This disease is contagious and affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, eyes and lungs. Hepatitis symptoms can vary, including fever, vomiting, soreness around the liver, and a swollen stomach. Hepatitis cases can range from mild to severe and require immediate treatment to mitigate the symptoms.

10-12 Weeks

This round of shots includes the second round of DHP shots (listed above) and introduces a parainfluenza shot. Some vets will administer the parainfluenza at the 6-8 week mark, but that is dependent on your puppy and vet.

  • DHP

  • Parainfluenza – This virus attacks the respiratory system and is more commonly known as kennel cough. Your puppy can get this from other dogs as it is passed through the air and is highly contagious. The most prominent symptom of this is coughing, as your dog will be having issues breathing correctly.

16-18 Weeks

At this age, your puppy will receive DHP again and a parainfluenza shot. This core group of shots is also known as DHHP.

  • DHHP

  • Rabies – This disease is viral and could be caught from a bite by an infected animal. It attacks the central nervous system and can lead to hallucinations, paralysis, drooling excessively anxiety, and death. Most states require rabies vaccinations by law. Treatment for a rabies infection must be given within hours of infection, or death is likely.

12-16 Months

After your puppy hits the one-year mark, it will have received the first rounds of its core vaccines, and your vet will be administering the rest of the doses.

  • DHHP

  • Rabies

Every 1-2 Years Following

Your dog will need to keep up with their DHHP (Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza) shots every two years. Consult your vet to schedule these critical appointments.

Every 1-3 Years Following

In addition to up-keeping, the DHHP shots every one to two years; rabies shots must be renewed at least every three years. Your state’s laws often mandate this.

What other vaccines might my puppy need?

Other than the core vaccines, your vet may recommend additional vaccines depending on your dog’s breed, medical conditions, and geographical location. You can keep your puppy protected from other conditions with shots. Let’s talk about other possible vaccines or preventative medicines you might want to ask your vet about.

  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica – Bordetella bacterium is highly contagious and is the leading cause of kennel cough. It can lead to severe coughing, vomiting, and if it is an extreme case, even death. This vaccine is offered as a shot or as a nasal spray. If your puppy plans to go to boarding facilities or a group class, this might be required.

  • Influenza – Also known as dog flu, this disease is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious. It can cause coughing, fever, reduced appetite, or lethargy.

  • Leptospirosis – This disease is caused by bacteria and can result in fever, weakness, kidney failure, loss of appetite, and muscle pain – but sometimes symptoms will not appear in dogs. It can be treated with antibiotics, but it can be good to take preventative measures as this disease can pass between dogs and humans.

  • Lyme Disease – Similarly to humans, dogs are prone to Lyme disease from ticks. Symptoms might present themselves as limping, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and a spike in temperature. If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can result in long-term health issues for your pup, so it is good to seek flea and tick protection preventively.

Any combination of these could be beneficial for your pup, so you should ask your vet if you feel as though you want to add these to the core vaccines.

Vaccines: a great way to protect your pup

Making sure your puppy gets all their shots will make them safer at the dog park, daycare, or a boarding facility. It will also protect them from fatal diseases that can pass between dogs or bacteria. These shots can be lifesaving and should be a top priority. With dog insurance plans provided by Spot, you can add on preventative care coverage for an extra cost.  Based on the preventative care coverage option, you could get coverage for select vaccines and an annual wellness exam. Keep your puppy protected by staying up to date on their shots!


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