All About Your Puppy’s First Shots

Bringing home a new puppy is so much fun.

They are lovable, cuddly, furballs. Everything is an adventure. When you bring your new puppy home, you know he’ll need to be house-broken and taught at least basic obedience. You have lots of toys for him to chew on, but soon realize anything he can get his mouth on he may consider a chew toy.

You pay careful attention to his diet, watching both the quantity and the quality of the food and treats he eats. You take extra precautions to make sure he doesn’t get into the trash or other pets’ food.

Why does your puppy need shots?

Another equally important, but sometimes overlooked, item required for healthy puppy care is getting him his shots. Puppies should be weaned before they start their shots. Most immunization series start when puppies are 6 to 12 weeks old, with additional vaccinations and/or boosters required throughout their first year.

Which specific shots and when they’re given can vary from pup to pup. You want to find out what vaccinations they’ve already received (if any) when you get them from the shelter or breeder. The breed and size of the dog can have a bearing on the type and timing of shots they need.

There are other factors, though, that aren’t quite as obvious. Things like the number of pups in your pup’s littler, how long he nursed, what vaccinations his mother had, and the cleanliness of his birth home.

The geographic area where your pup was born and where he’ll live can also have an impact on what vaccinations he’ll need. Whether he’ll visit dog parks, groomers or doggy daycare and whether he’ll be out hiking, fishing, and camping with you are all activities you and the vet need to discuss when deciding on what vaccinations your pup will need and when he’ll need them.

You probably have heard of distemper, rabies, and parvovirus. Vaccinations against those three diseases are routinely given. Parainfluenza, one of the viruses that can lead to kennel cough, is another routine vaccination.

Some optional vaccinations include bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme disease. Some less familiar vaccinations include one for Corona virus, a primarily gastro-intestinal virus that no drugs can kill; and leptospirosis, a bacterial infection found worldwide that can spread from dogs to people. Antibiotics are effective against it.


istockphoto/Thanawath Seangsuriyapone

What should your puppy’s immunization schedule look like?

Here is a rough timeline of vaccinations to give you an idea of what to expect:

6 to 8 weeks old:

Recommended: distemper and parainfluenza
Optional: bordetella

10 to 12 weeks old:

Recommended: DHPP, which includes vaccines for distemper, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and adenovirus (hepatitis)
Optional: bordetella, Corona virus, leptospirosis, and/or Lyme disease

12 to 24 weeks old:

Recommended: rabies; local regulations also govern when and how often your dog should be vaccinated against rabies
Optional: none

14 to 16 weeks old:

Recommended: DHPP
Optional: Corona virus, Lyme disease and/or leptospirosis

12 to 16 months old:

Recommended: Rabies and DHPP
Optional: Corona virus, leptospirosis, bordetella, and/or Lyme disease

Your dog will continue to need vaccinations and boosters as recommended by your vet at annual well-dog exams.

Your furry best friend is beside you through all your best and worst times, when you’re sick and when you’re well. You want to keep him healthy and around for as long as you can. Starting him off with the routine shots he needs as a puppy and a young dog will help increase the odds that he’ll live a long, happy, and healthy life.

Meet the Author: Pam Hair

Pam Hair is a pet industry copywriter with Fuzzy Friends Writer, where she combines her three passions: a love of animals, a strong desire to help other people, and the joy of writing. She has been a pet parent over the years to dogs, cats, and a variety of rodents. Currently she and her husband share their home with two guinea pigs.

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