Vaccine Schedules for Dogs & Puppies

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Vaccinations, or shots, are one of the key components of preventative wellness care. They protect your dog from serious diseases by building their immunity. Administering vaccines and boosters at the right time over your dog’s lifetime is really important, as immunity fades over time. Check out our handy guide below to learn more about dog vaccines and schedules.

Why Do We Vaccinate?

Vaccines work by exposing your dog’s immune system to an incomplete or inactive strain of infectious agents. This helps their body build immune cells that are specifically designed to respond effectively when the real thing comes along.

In recent years, vaccines have at times been called ‘dangerous’ for a number of reasons – but there’s little to no scientific evidence to support this claim. And in fact, the diseases they prevent are irritating at best, and potentially deadly at worst. Vaccines are also relatively painless, easy, and cost-effective to administer.

What Do We Vaccinate Dogs Against?

There are a number of vaccines for dogs, which can be broken down into core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those considered essential for your dog’s health, whilst non-core vaccines are optional, and may be recommended for your dog depending on their lifestyle. Your veterinarian can help you decide which non-core vaccines are right for your dog.

What are the Core Vaccines for Dogs?

  • Rabies: Rabies is a highly contagious and fatal viral disease transmitted via a bite from an infected animal, such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. It can be transmitted to humans, for whom it is also fatal. The Rabies vaccine is legally required in New York for all dogs.
  • DHPPi: Sometimes known simply as the Distemper vaccine, this is actually a combination vaccine that protects against Distemper, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Infectious Hepatitis. These are all serious, highly infectious diseases that can result in pain, organ damage and may be fatal.
  • Leptospirosis: Also known as the ‘lepto’ vaccine, this protects against a dangerous bacterial infection. Whilst some vets do not consider this a core vaccine, at Small Door we strongly recommend it for all dogs in New York, as leptospirosis is found across all five boroughs and is even more prominent outside of the city.

What are the Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs?

  • Bordetella: Bordetella is also known as kennel cough, a nasty respiratory disease. The vaccine is required by dog groomers, boarding and daycare facilities.
  • Lyme: Lyme Disease is a bacterial disease that can affect pets and humans, causing fever, painful joints and, at times, organ damage. It’s carried by ticks and the vaccine can be useful for dogs that visit areas with high tick exposure.
  • Canine Influenza Virus: Different to the Parainfluenza mentioned above, Canine Influenza Virus, or ‘Dog Flu’, is a serious respiratory disease somewhat similar to flu in humans.

It’s important to administer boosters within a specific time frame, otherwise your dog may have to repeat the entire series of vaccines.

Puppy Vaccines & Boosters

Puppies are especially vulnerable to diseases because they have underdeveloped immune systems. That’s why we begin vaccinating at a young age. Puppies also initially receive some immune protection from their mother, but this doesn’t last for very long. This maternal immunity can also interfere with the vaccines we administer, and make them less effective. So, to make sure puppies acquire a high enough level of antibodies to be effective, we have to vaccinate them multiple times – in other words, administer boosters.

Puppy Vaccine Schedule

Typically, puppies will receive their vaccines over three vet visits during the first few months of their life. While the exact dates might vary slightly for your puppy (and your veterinarian will advise on this), it’s important that their boosters are administered within a specific time frame – usually 4 weeks; otherwise your dog may have to repeat the entire series of vaccines. A typical puppy vaccination schedule would be:

  • 8 weeks: Distemper vaccine (1 of 3), Bordetella vaccine (1 of 1), Lyme vaccine (1 of 2) & Dog Flu vaccine (1 of 2)
  • 12 weeks: Distemper vaccine (2 of 3), Rabies vaccine (1 of 1), Leptospirosis vaccine (1 of 2), Lyme vaccine (2 of 2) & Dog flu vaccine (2 of 2)
  • 16 weeks: Distemper vaccine (3 of 3) & Leptospirosis vaccine (2 of 2)

Adult Dog Vaccine Schedule

Adult and senior dogs need regular boosters to maintain their immunity levels. Boosters are required yearly or every three years depending on the vaccine.

  • Rabies: every three years
  • Distemper: every three years
  • Leptospirosis: every year
  • Bordetella: every year. (Previously this vaccine was recommended every six months, but guidelines now recommend yearly boosters. Some groomers and daycare facilities may still request the six month booster shot.)
  • Canine influenza: every year
  • Lyme disease: every year

Make Sure Your Dog Is Up-To-Date on their Vaccines

By keeping your dog up-to-date on their shots, you’re protecting them from serious, painful, and often fatal diseases. Speak to your veterinarian if you’re not sure whether your dog needs any boosters – they can review your pup’s medical records and confirm their booster due dates. You can also learn more about Small Door’s vaccine services and FAQs on our Vaccination page.

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