Dog Doses Explained: How Often Do Dogs Need Shots?

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 18, 2023 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Edited by Jade Scott
View of veterinarian in latex gloves holding syringe
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.6 Min

When a puppy comes home it is necessary for it to get shots in the first year of its life to keep it healthy and protect it against various conditions including Lyme disease, canine influenza, and leptospirosis.

Depending on the medical condition, vaccines are divided into 10 categories. The vaccination frequency is based on the kind of immunization.

Vaccination is important for all puppies. However, there are way too many of them for a small animal. The veterinary care community has, therefore, divided vaccines into non-core and core. Based on the risk factors of an animal, non-core vaccines are given. For example, the bordetella vaccine which is for kennel cough is for dogs that are frequently kennel boarded, and the feline leukemia virus vaccine is for cats that roam outside. Vaccines improve the overall health of your pet but must be given aptly. The need for puppy vaccination also differs for pets living at home and pets at sanctuaries or shelters. Dogs generally need to be vaccinated for rabies. However, if your dog has a disease that could damage their health condition, then it is acceptable not to vaccinate your dog. If your dog frequently comes in contact with other dogs in a social setting, your dog should have a regular vaccination schedule to avoid the spread of diseases from one dog to another.

The worst diseases that your pup can contract are parvo and distemper. These are, however, preventable by vaccination. The schedule, interval and timing between shots are essential so that they can protect your puppy's health because antibodies from their mother can hamper the ability of vaccination in your pup's immune response. Therefore, the pup needs several vaccinations so that their immune system can break through decreasing the mother's antibody. The vaccination schedule of puppies takes longer compared to the schedule for adult dogs and is repeated after the initial dose.

If you enjoy reading these facts that answer how often do dogs need shots, then make sure to read some more interesting facts that answer the questions why do dogs spin in circles and how often can you give your dog Benadryl here on Kidadl.

How often do dogs need rabies shots?

Rabies vaccination must be given early in the first year of your pup's life, usually at around three months of age. The second rabies vaccination must be given when the puppy is three years old. States will provide information about the required age for the rabies vaccine. Puppy vaccination boosters are necessary every three years after the initial dose.

Rabies vaccines protect puppies against fatal diseases. This fatal infection has a 100% death rate and once symptoms start to show there is no treatment available. However, puppy vaccination against rabies is available around the world and is also quite effective. With vaccination, adult dogs stay healthy and it helps keep humans safe too. Rabies is a zoonotic disease, which means the infection can transfer to humans. Rabies is present in the infected animal's saliva and is transmitted through an animal bite, however, it can also be spread when the infectious saliva comes in contact with an open wound, mucus membrane, or a scratch. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that coming into contact with the urine, feces, or blood of a rabid animal does not spread the infection.

If the virus gets transmitted it then travels to the brain via the infected wound and nervous system. This is an early stage and symptoms can take several weeks to show up. It is when the virus reaches the brain of the infected animal, where it multiplies and then moves into the salivary glands. It is at this point that the symptoms become visible. Rabies kills around 60,000 people (generally children) a year around the world. You can vaccinate your canine for rabies at around 12-16 weeks old. You will also need to get a booster shot after one year. It is better to visit your local veterinary clinic to get more information. Adult dogs can be given an extra vaccination dose if they get bitten by an infected dog. Rabies can also be seen in cats.

Puppy at veterinarian doctor

What shots do dogs need yearly?

Ideally, puppies need more than nine annual shots of vaccines for infections like Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine hepatitis, canine distemper, canine influenza, adenovirus, canine parainfluenza, and Lyme disease.

Vaccination, titers, or boosters every year can seem like a lot of work but that is what keeps diseases at bay in your puppy or an adult dog. The veterinarian community has divided the annual vaccination or shot into core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines must be given to every dog. Non-core vaccines are administered only if the veterinarian decides the puppy needs to be vaccinated based on health, lifestyle, living circumstances, and geographic conditions. The highly infectious Bordetella bronchiseptica (non-core) can cause severe fits of vomiting, coughing, whooping, and sometimes seizures and death. Kennel cough is mainly caused by Bordetella. Your puppy can be vaccinated against Bordetella at around six to eight weeks, 10-12 weeks, and 14-16 weeks of age. The contagious and severe canine distemper (core) is caused by a virus that attacks the gastrointestinal, nervous, and respiratory systems of dogs, skunks, and other species. This disease is airborne and can spread due to shared water bowls and food. It causes fever, coughing, seizures, diarrhea, discharges from the nose and eyes, and even death in your puppy or an adult dog. Similar to the shot for kennel cough, this vaccine must be administered at six to eight weeks, 10 weeks, and 14-16 weeks of age.

Canine hepatitis (adenovirus-core) is also contagious and affects the spleen, kidney, lungs, eyes, and liver of an infected adult dog. Mild fever due to hepatitis is not dangerous, however, a severe condition can cause death. The vaccination schedule means shots must be administered three times between six and 16 weeks of age. Kennel cough is also caused by para-influenza (non-core) and the vaccine can be administered between 6- 14 weeks of age with one shot every four weeks. Leptospirosis (non-core) is a disease caused by bacteria with no symptoms. Leptospirosis causes lethargy, abdominal pain, kidney failure, fever, and vomiting. Puppies can be given vaccines (antibiotics) to protect against leptospirosis around 14-16 weeks. Lyme disease (non-core) is a tick-borne disease caused by spirochete bacteria. The vaccine for this must be given every one year or three years. Parvovirus (core) is highly contagious and is high risk if contracted by a puppy when less than four months of age. Vaccines for this disease must be given three times between 6- 16 weeks of age. Canine influenza (non-core) vaccine can be given twice between 10-16 weeks of age. Rabies (core) vaccine must be given every one to three years after the initial vaccine dose. Generally speaking, most vaccines are to be repeated after the initial dose in your canine.

How often do dogs need distemper shots?

Puppies need a distemper vaccine around six to eight weeks, again at 10 weeks, and at 14-16 weeks of age, with it repeated with a booster every three years after that.

Distemper is a fatal disease impacting the gastrointestinal, nervous, and respiratory systems in your pet. It can either affect your dog physically or neurologically, and the risk factors and symptoms can be different from one dog to another. Symptoms of this contagious disease are vomiting, muscle tics, nasal discharge, an upset stomach, and pneumonia. If you notice these signs then your pup needs to be taken to the veterinarian. With a full vaccine dose, your dog can stay safe from this illness because the vaccine will allow the immune system to fight the disease. This is a core vaccine meaning every puppy must get it. Mostly this vaccine is combined with adenovirus, parvovirus, and also with parainfluenza (DAPP or DHPP). Puppies can start their vaccination schedule from the age of six weeks until 16 weeks, every two to four weeks. Any vaccine given before six weeks will not have any effect on your pup as the mother's milk gives immunity to the pup to fight any vaccine. The vaccine is free in some shelters or it can cost around $30. Side effects of this dose are sleepiness, soreness around the site where your pup was injected, and mild swelling in the face.

How often do dogs need parvo shots?

Parvovirus vaccine (DAPP or DHPP) must be given to a puppy at six to eight weeks, at 10 weeks, at 14-16 weeks old, and at 12-16 months of age, and then repeated every one to two years with a booster dose.

Both blood work and SNAP tests are done by the vet on your puppy to check for parvo. Parvo is highly contagious and can be fatal in unvaccinated puppies and dogs. It can cause serious damage to the digestive system in a dog. Your pup can get infected with this illness if it licks, consumes, or sniffs urine or feces of another infected pup or other contaminated objects like leashes, collars, water bowls, food, and clothing. Parvo can also affect lymphopoietic tissues, bone marrow, and sometimes the heart too. Some symptoms of parvo are fever, lethargy, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weakness, depression, dehydration, weakness, weight loss, and anorexia. If dehydration increases in a dog, it can die within 48-72 hours. To prevent infection, a vaccination schedule is important and training and safe socializing are also suggested. In addition, make sure your pup is fully vaccinated completely with all the required doses before socialization. With the safety of vaccination, even if your pup catches parvo, its immune system will be strong enough to fight it off.

The vaccination schedule for your pup can be three shots administered from six weeks old to 16 weeks old. Puppies will need a booster dose after a year and adult dogs can get a booster after three years. Like the vaccine, boosters too, are very important. There is no cure found for parvovirus, however, with owners controlling secondary symptoms, lifestyle, and hydrating their pet, their pet's immune system can then kill the virus.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestion for how often do dogs need shots, then why not take a look at why do dogs sneeze, or Old English sheepdog facts?

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

Read full bio >
Read the DisclaimerFact Correction