Making sure that your dog or puppy has all of the needed vaccinations is an important part of pet ownership. Vaccinations give your dog the chance at a happy, long and healthy life.

Puppy Vaccinations

  • Puppies must have a required DHPP vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks. DHPP stands for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus. It is a combination vaccination that protects against all of these common illnesses. Two additional booster shots are needed every three to four weeks until the animal reaches 16 weeks of age. The boosters are given to make sure the vaccinations are completely effective during the first weeks while the puppy immune system is developing.

    At 16 weeks, a puppy is ready for a rabies vaccine.

Adult Dog Vaccinations

  • Adult dogs should visit a veterinarian once per year. The vet will let you know which vaccinations are due at that visit.

    Many of the vaccinations for major diseases are given every three years. Some vaccinations, such as those for Lyme disease or rattlesnake venom, will be administered annually depending on your dog’s lifestyle or exposure to various elements.

    Senior dogs still need vaccinations, but many vets will discuss which vaccinations are appropriate for an aging dog based on nutrition, exposure to parasites and periodontal health.

Why Vaccinate?

  • Vaccinations protect dogs from illnesses that are debilitating and life-threatening. Keeping your dog vaccinated also helps maintain the health of the general dog population by preventing the spread of disease.

    Most kennels, dog parks, state parks and other public areas require that your pet be current on at least the rabies vaccination. If you are crossing state lines or moving, check with your vet to find out what vaccinations are required for each state.

Side Effects

  • Side effects can happen as a result of vaccinations. Immediately after vaccination you should watch your dog for signs of injection site tenderness, worsening of allergies, decreased activity, mild fever, mild cough, lameness or anaphylaxis.

    Severe side effects such as anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction, and lameness are rare. The other side effects are mild and will typically go away quickly. If you are concerned about any unusual reactions your animal may be having to a vaccine, contact your vet immediately.


  • Although vaccines are traditionally given annually, growing evidence shows they are more effective for longer than previously thought. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, “protective revaccination intervals for the major viral diseases of normal adult dogs could safely be extended to 3 years.” Many dogs, depending upon exposure and lifestyle, may not need vaccinations every year.

    This does not mean that you should skip your annual visit to the vet. Making sure that your pet is in good health is important, whether they are due for vaccinations or not.