Dog Vaccinations: Roadmap to Your Canine’s Health

by | Aug 21, 2023 | Dogs, Health & Wellness, Preventative Care

A big priority as a dog parent is keeping your sweet pup healthy and happy, which means staying on top of your dog’s vaccination schedule. If you need help with which vaccinations your dog needs and when they need them, this article will help you navigate your dog’s health journey with a comprehensive vaccination guide. We’ll cover core and non-core vaccines, dog vaccination schedules, and critical vaccines. 

What Are Vaccinations for Dogs?

Vaccinations protect your dog from serious diseases. They help stop the spread of germs from dog to dog or dog to person. But what are vaccinations? Vaccines stimulate a dog’s immune system to fight off disease.  Vaccines carry weakened or inactive pathogens that act like certain viruses to stimulate the dog’s immune system. The antibodies help fight off a viral disease when the dog is exposed. Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, but they help reduce the strength of a disease helping your dog better quickly. 

Core vs. Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

Core vaccines protect your dog from diseases such as:

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Adenovirus(hepatitis)

Non-core vaccinations protect your dog from illnesses such as:

  • Canine influenza (flu)
  • Bordetella
  • Lyme disease
  • Leptospirosis-causes bleeding disorders

Non-core vaccinations are sometimes called lifestyle vaccines. The choice to give these to your pet depends on how at risk your dog is due to age, healthiness, or any medications your dog is taking. Most diseases prevented by these non-core vaccines have less severe symptoms; the disease isn’t spread easily to many dogs or isn’t as prevalent in their geographical area. 

Vaccination Schedule for Dogs

Puppies begin to receive vaccinations as early as 6 to 8 weeks and then every three weeks until they are 16 weeks. old.

Puppies should start their vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks and then every three weeks after this until they’re four months old when they receive their last round of the vaccine. Puppies receive antibodies from their healthy mother’s milk while nursing, but after a puppy gets weaned, it should begin vaccinations to build up its immunities. Giving your dog multiple shots ensures optimal immunity. Booster shots help maintain a dog’s immunity throughout its life. 

Odie Pet Insurance - Dog Vaccination Schedule


Key Vaccines for Dogs

Distemper Vaccine

Distemper is a contagious viral disease. It’s incurable and usually fatal, affecting multiple organs, including the 

  • Respiratory system
  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Central nervous system

Distemper initial symptoms include a watery, pus-like discharge from a dog’s eyes. As the disease progresses, the dog develops nasal discharge, fever, cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. 

Distemper vaccinations are important to prevent this deadly disease; Distemper spreads without direct contact with unvaccinated indoor and outdoor dogs since it lives in the environment.

Parvovirus Vaccine

Unvaccinated dogs are at a higher risk of contracting Parvovirus, a very contagious disease that affects the gastrointestinal system.

Parvovirus is a contagious, deadly virus that affects all dogs. Unvaccinated puppies and dogs are especially at risk. The virus attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal system. It’s spread through direct contact with feces, people, or the environment. This hardy virus can survive in cold and heat, living on

  • Leashes and collars
  • Kennel surfaces
  • Water and food bowls
  • Hands and clothing of people working with dogs

Symptoms of parvovirus include 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Severe, sometimes bloody diarrhea
  • Fever

If left untreated, a dog can get dehydrated and have septic shock. 

The parvovirus vaccination prevents the spread of this deadly disease to the environment and other dogs. Vaccinating your dog against this devasting virus prevents your pup from experiencing these awful symptoms and possibly death. 

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is a zoonotic disease that spreads from dog to human causing brain and spinal cord inflammation. It’s a fatal but preventable disease that kills thousands of people and animals yearly. By law, you must get your dog vaccinated against rabies. 

Rabies vaccines are required by U.S. state law.

How Much Do Dog Vaccinations Cost?

Vaccinations range in price depending on your state and your vet. On average, you’ll pay anywhere from $20 to $50 for each vaccine. Vaccines are given during your dog’s well checks. Beginning at four months, your puppy must be vaccinated every few weeks to build up their immunities against rabies, Distemper, and parvovirus. 

Can Pet Insurance Provide Coverage for Dog’s Vaccines?

Pet insurance offsets your dog’s preventative care costs by paying for vaccinations and other medical treatments. You can feel at peace knowing your sweet pet is protected from deadly diseases like rabies, parvovirus, and Distemper. 

Odie Pet Insurance offers a Wellness Plan add-on that helps to reimburse for routine care items like vaccines.

Wellness Plan

Odie’s wellness plan ensures your pet gets routine care. This plan is an add-on to any insurance policy. Just a few things this plan covers include

  • Vaccinations
  • Flea and tick prevention
  • Heartworm prevention
  • Rabies vaccinations
  • Wellness exams
  • Blood and fecal tests
  • Microchipping

Illness & Injury Plan

This plan covers affordable insurance coverage against illnesses and injuries your dog may incur. Plans average $45 a month and cover items such as:

  • Emergency vet visits
  • Overnight hospital stays
  • IV Fluids & Medications
  • Medical Supplies
  • Surgeries
  • MRI/CAT Scans
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Laboratory Tests
  • And much more

Accident-Only Plan

Odie’s Accident Only Plan covers emergency vet care. For as little as $9 a month, you can rest assured your dog is covered for mishaps. This plan appeals to: 

  • First-time pet owners
  • Cats and dogs with pre-existing conditions
  • Budget-conscious dog parents

Lifestyle and Location-Based Vaccination Considerations

Lifestyle Factors

Your dog’s lifestyle influences its vaccination needs. If your dog lives indoors and doesn’t have contact with other dogs, they may not need the Bordetella or Leptospirosis vaccinations. Of course, it’s best to discuss these choices with your vet, who may have up-to-date information on these viruses being more prevalent in your area, creating the need for your dog to be vaccinated against them. 

Geographic Considerations

Some geographical areas have more dog viruses due to the climate and conditions of the area. For instance, leptospirosis is most common in the Midwest, Southwestern, and Eastern United States because of the deciduous forests and the precipitation in these areas. Lymes disease is more common in wooded areas. 

The Importance of Regular Vet Visits

Vet Visits for Vaccinations

It’s important to schedule regular vet visits so your pet can be up to date on all their vaccinations. Because your vet knows your dog’s history and overall health, they can tailor the vaccinations accordingly. 

Health Monitoring

Your vet will also monitor your dog’s health during wellness examinations. Part of the wellness checks includes screening blood tests, including.

  • Urinalysis tests
  • Thyroid tests
  • Blood count( CBC) – This test checks the red blood cell count, white blood cell count, and platelets. These tests tell the vet about your dog’s kidneys, liver, protein, electrolytes, and blood glucose. 
  • Biochemistry profile-blood serum test to evaluate your dog’s organ function and hormone levels. 
  • Fecal test for parasites
  • Teeth and gum check
  • Check your dog’s skin for bumps or lumps

Don’t forgo your dog’s wellness checks because early detection and prevention are key to protecting and maintaining your pup’s health.

Dogs need various vaccinations throughout their lives. It's best to prepare by maintaining a calm atmosphere.

Dog’s Pre-Vaccination Period

How Do You Prepare a Dog for Vaccinations? 

You can prepare your dog by providing a calm atmosphere. If you stay calm, it will affect your pet’s sense of peace.

How Many Vaccines Do Dogs Need?

DHPP-(Distemper, adenovirus(hepatitis), parainfluenza, parvovirus) 


Should Dogs Eat Before Vaccines?

It might be best to schedule the appointment several hours after your dog eats so they won’t be vaccinated on a full stomach. Don’t feed your dog for several hours after the appointment just in case they feel slightly nauseous after the shot. 

Dog’s Post-Vaccination Period

Are There Any Side Effects of Vaccines?

Side effects include

  • Local swelling of the injection site
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mild fever

What Should and Shouldn’t Puppies Do After the Vaccination?

Avoid petting or playing with your puppy since they may feel tired and slightly sore in the injection site. Keep an eye on them to be sure they’re comfortable, but let them sleep and rest for the day. 

When Can I Take My Puppy Out After Their Vaccinations?

You can take your puppy out two weeks after their last vaccine. They are considered fully vaccinated. 

Should I Walk My Dog After Vaccines?

Walk your dog after their Vaccination and stick to their normal schedule. 

What If My Pet Dog Bites Me, but Is Vaccinated?

If you’re bitten by your dog that’s fully vaccinated for rabies, you don’t need to get treatment against rabies. If you aren’t sure if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies, see your doctor immediately. 

Vaccination Frequency and Types

Can Adult Dogs Get Parvo?

Adult dogs can get parvo if they’re unvaccinated or if their immune system is compromised due to a medical condition or medications they’re on, such as steroids. 

Do Dogs Need Parvo Shots Every Year?

Adult dogs need the parvo shot every three years. Puppies need a booster one year after completing their initial series of vaccinations. 

Adult dogs need the Parvovirus vaccine every three years, but puppies will need a booster one year after the initial series.

Does Rabies Vaccine Last Longer Than 3 Years?

The rabies vaccine is given to dogs every three years. Rabies vaccines are given out of public concern because once symptoms show up, it’s always fatal.

Do Dogs Need Rabies Vaccines Every Year?

Dogs need rabies vaccinations every three years. 

What Are the 4-in-1 Vaccines For Dogs?

The DAPP vaccination protects your dog against four deadly diseases. 

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus

What Is the 5-in-1 Vaccine for Dogs?

The DHPP vaccination protects your dog against five deadly viruses, including.

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus 1 and 2
  • Parvo
  • Parainfluenza

What Is the 7-in-1 Vaccine for Dogs?

This combination of vaccines to protect dogs includes

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus 1 and 2
  • Parvo
  • Leptospira canicola
  • Leptospira  icterohaemorrhagiae
  • Parainfluenza

What Does a 9-in-1 Dog Vaccine Mean?

This combination of vaccines includes five core vaccines and four strains of Lepto.

  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Adenovirus
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvo
  • Lepto canicola, grippotyphosa, icterohaemorrhagiae, pomona

Vaccination Timing and Lifelong Needs

At What Age Do You Stop Vaccinating Your Dog?

Most senior dogs don’t need vaccinations, but it depends on your dog’s lifestyle and health. Talk to your vet to discuss what vaccines your dog needs. 

What Shots Do Dogs Need in Their Lifetime?

To protect your dog in their lifetime, they need these vaccinations:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Adenovirus(hepatitis)

Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, health, and where you live, they may need other shots, including:

  • Lymes’ disease
  • Dog flu
  • Bordetella

What Vaccines Should Dogs Always Have?

Your dog should always have these vaccines:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Hepatitis

Can a Dog Live Long Without Shots?

Your dog may live without shots, but it will have an increased risk of serious disease and even death if they get sick. By law, you must give your dog the rabies vaccine or face a civil penalty and your dog being quarantined. 

Vaccination Considerations and Administration

Should I Get My Dog Vaccinated Every Year?

For most vaccinations, your dog needs a booster shot every year after receiving their initial puppy vaccination series.

What Is a Fully Vaccinated Dog?

A fully vaccinated dog has completed the vaccinated series as a puppy and a booster once a year. The fully vaccinated dog is protected from these diseases. 

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Hepatitis

Can a Vet Tell if a Dog Has Been Vaccinated?

It’s possible to do tests to look for antibodies, evidence that a dog has received a vaccination. 

What If My Dog Has Never Been Vaccinated?

If your dog still needs to be vaccinated, there is still time. Talk to your vet about getting your dog the core vaccinations.

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvo
  • Hepatitis

Be sure to get your pup a heartworm and fecal test to prevent heartworms or parasites. 

How Many Shots Do Dogs Need After 1 Year?

After one year, your dog needs the core vaccinations, including 

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis

Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, health, and where you live, they may need other shots, including:

  • Lymes’ disease
  • Dog flu
  • Bordetella

How Long Can a Dog Miss a Vaccine?

If you miss your dog’s vaccinations for over three months, your vet will recommend that your dog start the vaccination series again. 

Are Unvaccinated Dogs Safe?

An unvaccinated dog is a high risk to itself, other dogs, and you. 

Do Dogs Feel Pain When Vaccinated?

Your dog may feel slight pain because the Vaccination is given with a needle. Most dogs aren’t bothered by this. Typically, vets have someone with them to distract the dog by petting them or giving them a treat while they’re getting vaccinated. 

Can an Unvaccinated Dog Live with a Vaccinated Dog?

A fully vaccinated dog should be okay being around an unvaccinated dog, but there is some risk. The unvaccinated dog can bring disease into your home. Even though vaccinations protect your dog, no vaccine is 100% effective. Your vaccinated dog could get sick. They would have some protection so that they won’t get as sick as your unvaccinated dog. 

Can Dogs Get Multiple Vaccines at Once?

Yes, dogs can get multiple vaccinations at once.

Can You Mix Dog Vaccines?

Several vaccines are given together in one shot called the DHPP.(distemper, parainfluenza, parvo and adenovirus(hepatits). 

Do Dogs Need Monthly Vaccines?

Boosters are yearly or every three years, depending on which vaccine your dog is given. Some doggie daycare facilities or groomers require your dog to receive their booster every six months. 

Is My Dog Safe After Their 2nd Vaccination?

One week after your pup receives their second Vaccination, you can walk them in public and take them to puppy classes. They’re still at risk for leptospirosis, so don’t take them to areas that are high risk for this disease, such as 

  • Water parks
  • Areas where rats could live
  • No farms with livestock

Can Dogs Get Three Vaccines at Once?

Depending on the vaccines, it’s okay for your dog to get three vaccines at once. Most vets give combo vaccinations such as the DHPP, which is 

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus(hepatitis)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus 

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