The first few months in a dog’s life are his most formative. He’s meeting his human family for the first time and learning how to interact with the world around him. But just as important are the steps you take to address his physical health through vaccination.
When should I vaccinate my puppy?
It’s best to get your puppy examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. During the examination, your veterinarian will look at your dog’s medical and vaccination history. If the breeder or shelter has recently vaccinated your puppy and your veterinarian is confident that it was done properly, a schedule for follow-up vaccinations will be made based on your pup’s particular needs.
Puppies should be vaccinated every four weeks between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks with the final puppy vaccines given no later than 16 weeks of age. During this critical time, maternal antibody from the mother can interfere with a long-term immune response, so the idea is to keep boosting until the pet’s immune system is capable of creating its own long-term protection.
All puppies should receive the core vaccines of Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adeno virus), Canine Parvo Virus, Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Leptospirosis, Canine Corona Virus and Rabies Virus.
Puppies’ core vaccination schedule at a glance
The following is an example of a vaccination schedule followed in our practice that could be a good starting point for many dogs. The given schedule can be continued with annual booster doses for all three vaccines.
Age (in weeks) Vaccination
6-7 DHPPi+L and Canine Corona
10-11 DHPPi + L (1st Booster), Canine Corona (1st Booster) and Rabies
14-16 DHPPi+L (2nd Booster), Canine Corona (2nd Booster) and Rabies (1st Booster)
Is Vaccination Safe for my Puppy?
Core vaccines like DHPPi+L, Corona and Rabies are considered safe for the vast majority of puppies. For these diseases, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh their risks, and all dogs should have them as they protect against very serious diseases. However, vaccines are biological products and can cause adverse reactions and unpredictable side effects in dogs, regardless of age. Most reactions are minor and easily managed. Regardless of his age, if your dog is sick, vaccinations may not be recommended during his veterinary visit.
The idea of a vaccine is to stimulate antibody production from a healthy immune system, so if that is compromised, the vaccine may not only be ineffective, but harmful as well.
Can I skip any vaccinations for my puppy?
Puppy vaccinations should be administered on a veterinarian recommended schedule and none in the core series should be skipped. The shots give as a part of this series are to prevent diseases that can be deadly to puppies or cause significant illness, which is why it’s important to follow the advice of your veterinarian when it comes to your puppy’s vaccination schedule.
Maternal antibodies disappear by the age of 14 to 16 weeks, and the reason for the series is to give the puppy protection for each disease as the maternal antibodies weaken and disappear. If there are any concerns about the safety of any particular vaccine, or if the puppy has an allergic reaction to a vaccine, you should talk to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits associated with that particular shot for your puppy and decide where to go from there.
For adult dogs, if you have concerns about routine booster shot administration, you can request that your vet complete a titer test to measure for existing antibodies. If the level of antibody is protective, that vaccine can be safely skipped.