Puppy Shots: What Vaccines Do They Need?

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Your puppy (or future puppy) needs a certain set of vaccines, often referred to as “core” vaccines, in order to be protected, happy, and healthy.

These vaccines have a good 50 years of time behind them to establish a safe and effective reputation with little to no risk.

what shots do puppies need

There is no need for fear of adverse effects other than allergic reactions or a normal side effect in any of these puppy shots – which is the same extremely low risk that humans take on when using vaccines.

What shots do puppies need? Here is the line-up, and what you should know about them.

Core Puppy Vaccines

Core vaccines are the ones your puppy needs to have at the appropriate times. This puppy shot schedule needs to be followed – no delays or advanced appointments.

Core vaccines include those for canine coronavirus, canine parvovirus, canine hepatitis, canine distemper, and rabies.

These vaccines are most often in the form of a multivalent vaccine, which encompasses two or more strains of the same microorganisms, or two or more different microorganisms.

Most of the aforementioned vaccines come in a multivalent shot known as DA2PPC, which stands for canine distemper (D), canine hepatitis (A2), canine parvovirus (P), canine parainfluenza (P), and canine coronavirus (C).

The DA2PPC multivalent vaccine needs to be administered at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age.


The DA2PPC vaccine averages to $75-100 per visit. A rabies vaccination, not included in the multivalent vaccine, is often $15-20.

If money is tight, animal shelters are known to charge less for vaccines. Some even provide them for free.

Canine Parvovirus

CPV is a wide-spread viral illness that targets dogs and is the leading virus in causing diarrhea in puppies. Puppies especially will be at risk for contracting this without the vaccine in the recommended schedule.

This illness commonly results in intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and lack of appetite.

Less often but still known to happen, the virus targets the heart which can lead to death in young puppies.

This virus has a survival rate of 85%, meaning 15% of puppies that are exposed and catch it will die, making this a very, very important vaccine for your new canine buddy.

puppy vaccines

Canine Hepatitis

Otherwise known as Adenovirus 1 or CAV-1, canine hepatitis is a virus that targets the upper respiratory tract.

This can be passed from dog to dog, making the vaccine for this a must if you plan for your puppy to be interacting with others at a dog park or nearly anywhere outside the controlled environment of your home.

Canine Parainfluenza

The parainfluenza virus in dogs manifests in sneezing, gagging, nasal discharge, fever, and a hacking cough or cough with phlegm.

It’s non-life-threatening, the same way a cold to people is, but has the potential to lead to pneumonia.

This virus isn’t selective to dogs either, as it can jump between cats and dogs and even to people with weak immune systems, such as children, the sick, or the elderly.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is one of the vaccines your puppy absolutely needs.

That’s not to say the others aren’t needed, but canine distemper currently has no known cure.

Symptoms of distemper include high fever, reddened eyes, lethargy, and diarrhea.

Once the brain and spinal cord become affected, the infected dog may exhibit seizures, paralysis, and other nervous system type symptoms.

Canine Coronavirus

CCV is second only to canine parvovirus in giving diarrhea to puppies.

Unlike canine parvovirus, canine coronavirus is not associated with any kind of high death rates.

Puppies are more likely to catch this than older dogs. Sadly, there is also no known cure for this virus, but if your puppy develops this, they should get better in a few days.

The only thing to be done is to make sure they’re replacing all the lost water, force feeding if necessary.


Rabies is one of the well-known viral diseases due to the high death rate.

The rabies virus targets the central nervous system and causes anxiety, hallucinations, paralysis, and death in the infected animal.

Being vaccinated will give them their best shot at survival if they are infected.

If you suspect your puppy has contracted rabies even with the vaccine, seek medical treatment immediately, as the infection only takes hours for it to really set in.

puppy vaccines

Non-Core Puppy Vaccines

These vaccines, while necessary in some cases, are not needed in all dogs for their general wellbeing.

Non-core vaccines are determined by the risk of exposure for dogs on an individual level.

They’re often not recommended due to the vaccine not being as effective as they should be; they don’t last long or can be even dangerous.

These tend to range from $35-65 per individual vaccine.


Also known as “kennel cough,” it’s a disease often contracted in kennels that manifests as a cough.

It’s a non-core vaccine but sometimes is required by puppy classes and kennels.

Lyme Disease

This is not often recommended, as the most effective prevention method of Lyme disease is to check your dog for ticks.


Your dog can be infected with leptospirosis and shown no symptoms. However, lepto isn’t often fatal and an infected dog can live a long and happy life.

The vaccine has been known to cause the disease or be ineffective for protecting against the regional strains.

Do you keep your dog updated on all puppy shots?

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