Puppy Vaccination Schedule: What Shots Does Your Puppy Need?

Keep your puppy healthy and protect it against illness by sticking to a puppy vaccine schedule.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer
  • Co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast

  • MBA from Utah State University

Miranda is a financial writer and avid podcaster with nearly two decades of experience contributing to major outlets, including Forbes, The Hill, and NPR.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated March 26, 2024

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Your new puppy is definitely cute, and you’re probably excited to watch as your little one grows. If you want to increase your new pup’s chances of avoiding preventable diseases and living a healthy life, it makes sense to stick to a puppy vaccine schedule.

Here’s what you need to know about vaccinations for puppies and how these medicines can potentially save you money down the line while increasing the health of your pet.

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Recommended puppy vaccination schedule for the first year

Your veterinarian will develop a vaccination schedule for your puppy based on its age and health. It’s important to follow the schedule carefully as the shots are spaced out based on how the body responds to the injections, as well as how long it’ll take the mother’s antibodies to wear off.

Puppy’s AgeRecommended VaccinesOptional Vaccines
6-8 weeks Distemper, parvovirusBordetella
10-12 weeks DHPPLyme, lepto, bordetella
16-18 weeksDHPP, rabiesLyme, lepto, bordetella
12-16 months DHPP, rabiesLyme, lepto, bordetella, coronavirus
Every 1 to 2 yearsDHPPInfluenza, coronavirus, lepto, bordetella, lyme
Every 1 to 3 yearsRabiesN/A

Vaccination schedule for puppies

When you stick to a vaccination schedule, your pet has a better chance of developing an effective immune system. Completing the vaccination process within a specific time frame can help prevent fatal diseases and make certain illnesses less severe as your puppy grows into adulthood.

Here are some of the dog vaccines you should get for your new puppy, based on its age.

First 6 to 8 weeks: Initial vaccinations

You’re likely to start with some core vaccinations in the first few weeks of having your new puppy. These usually include a combination vaccine/DHPP without leptospirosis. But your veterinarian might also recommend canine distemper and canine parvovirus vaccines.

It’s important to note that distemper and parvovirus, while they might be recommended by your vet, are considered non-core vaccinations. But these vaccinations can still be good choices for your puppy to make sure that it has protection against infectious diseases.

9 to 16 weeks: Booster vaccinations

This is the time when you get the booster for the combination vaccine/DHPP. Make sure that you keep your puppy away from dog parks and direct contact with other pets until the vaccination schedule is complete. This includes cats and kittens.

After 16 weeks: Rabies vaccine

Depending on your state’s requirements and local laws, you’ll need to get your puppy’s rabies vaccine at 12 weeks or after 16 weeks. This is also when you’ll likely get another combination/DHPP, but this time with leptospirosis, depending on where you live and what your furry friend is likely to encounter.

Good to Know

As far as dog vaccinations go, the rabies vaccine is the only one required by law, so you want to make sure you comply with your local requirements. This ensures that if an infected animal bites your puppy, it has some protection against rabies.

One year: First annual vaccines

At this time, you likely need to come back for annual canine vaccinations of DHPP and rabies. Beyond that year, you likely need to renew these vaccines based on your vet’s recommendations.

For example, you usually get another DHPP as a booster the second year and then every three years after that. For rabies, you might need to get a vaccine every one to three years, based on local laws and a veterinarian-recommended schedule.

There might be other vaccines to consider annually as well, depending on various factors. Your vet can help you determine what makes the most sense.

Situation-based vaccine schedules

Some vaccines can enhance your puppy’s health based on where you live. For example, some common situation-based additional vaccines can protect against serious diseases, including viruses and parasites, that might be more prevalent in your area.

Some of these additional vaccinations include:

  • Lyme disease

  • Infectious canine hepatitis

  • Heartworm

  • Bordetella

  • Canine influenza

  • Canine adenovirus

Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, you might also need to be aware of the possibility of worms and plan for frequent deworming. You may also want to consider vaccinations for parasites. Regular flea and tick treatments can help reduce the risk of Lyme disease for your puppy.

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Does pet insurance cover puppy vaccines?

Because unvaccinated dogs can affect other canines and pets, it’s important to make sure you’re doing your part to keep all pets healthy. Keep good medical records and pay attention to your puppy’s health. And because these individual vaccinations can be expensive, you might wonder if pet insurance can help with your dog’s vaccination schedule.

Depending on the insurance plan, you might need to purchase an add-on wellness plan to cover costs that are considered preventive treatment, like vaccines. Check to see what’s available and whether your insurance plan covers your puppy’s first shots and other types of care, like blood tests, throughout your dog’s lifetime.

Even if your insurance doesn’t cover vaccines, paying for these immunizations can save you money later.

Cost of puppy vaccinations

As you consider immunization, especially with non-core vaccines, you need to consider cost. In some cases, you won’t need all the available vaccines because you might not live in an area that has a high risk for certain diseases.

The rabies vaccine is generally the only vaccine required by law. Others, including core vaccines like the DHPP vaccine, can help with disease prevention but are generally not required.[1] You could also consider an influenza vaccine to prevent severe symptoms if your dog’s lifestyle might be affected.

You might be able to find low-cost vaccines online or through your vet. You may also be able to use a pet insurance add-on to secure vaccines more affordably.

You can see the general cost for the most popular vaccines in the table below.

Type of VaccineCost

Risks and side effects of vaccinations

While vaccines are generally helpful, some puppies might have severe allergic reactions after administration. This could be due to a sensitivity to an individual ingredient in a vaccine or some other issue.

Some other potential side effects of vaccines might include:

  • Fever

  • Kennel cough

  • Sneezing

  • Runny nose

  • Swelling or lump at the site of injection

Important Information

While severe cases are rare, keep an eye on your puppy after vaccinations and watch for changes in your pet’s lifestyle, such as decreased appetite, to see if you need to make a vet visit.[1]

Puppy vaccination schedule FAQs

If you still have questions about immunizations for your puppy, this additional information may help.

  • How often should your puppy get vaccinated?

    A key element of your dog remaining healthy is a vaccination schedule. Most initial core vaccinations take place between 6 and 16 weeks of age. Beyond that, you might need to get vaccines every one to three years, or based on your geographical location and vet recommendations.

  • Can you take your puppy out before it’s fully vaccinated?

    For your puppy’s protection and the protection of other pets, it’s often best to wait until the initial schedule is completed. Nothing is stopping you from taking your puppy out, but the best way to prevent problems is to wait.

  • What should you expect after your puppy’s vaccination?

    You can likely expect some type of swelling or lump near the injection spot. Sometimes, your puppy might develop a low fever or show signs of decreased appetite, coughing, or sneezing as well.

  • Are all puppy vaccines necessary?

    The only puppy vaccine required by law is the rabies vaccine. Others, like the DHPP vaccine or Lyme disease vaccine, are recommended but not required. Additionally, your vet might recommend vaccines on a specific schedule based on where you live and the risk levels for certain diseases in the area.


  1. LA Times. "How Much Do Dog Vaccinations Cost? 2024 Dog & Puppy Vaccine Price Guide."
Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit Insurance Writer

Miranda Marquit, MBA, is a freelance financial writer covering various markets and topics since 2006. She has contributed to numerous media outlets, including Forbes, TIME, The Hill, NPR, HuffPost, Yahoo! Money, and more. Her work has been syndicated by MSN Money, Marketwatch, Credit.com, and other publications. She has written about insurance topics for Clearsurance, HealthCare.com, and various other websites. She is also an avid podcaster and co-hosts the Money Talks News podcast. Miranda has a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Syracuse University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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