how often do dogs need shots

Dogs are like a family to us. So it is our responsibility to give them the maximum love and protection they deserve. You and your pet should visit the vet’s office at least once a year so your dog can receive a thorough physical examination and based on that, the vet can suggest what shots do dogs need.

During this visit, your vet will run a quick series of test and what your dog hates so much yes, the injections. He will also provide a vaccination schedule for your lovely pet. Stick to them so you can protect your pet against the series of fatal diseases. However, as a concerned dog owner, it is very important for you to know what these procedures can offer to your dogs.

With a proper healthcare and a safe lifestyle, we can provide a healthy and happy lively hood to our pet companions.

Initial Vaccination Course Every Dogs Should Receive” box_color=”#02ae20″ title_color=”#ffffff” class=””]

Dogs must be vaccinated with DHPPs (distemper, hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus) starting at 6 to 8 weeks of age.It should be repeated once in every 3 to 4 weeks until they reach 14 to 16 weeks of age. The approximate vaccination schedule comes around at 8,12 and 16 weeks. After these initial shots, DHPP should be administered at its 1 year of age, and this pattern should be repeated once in every 3 years.

This DHPP combination of vaccinations guards your dogs against distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza.

How Vaccines Protect Your Dogs?

what shots do dogs need yearly

Vaccines on dogs work in a similar way as how it works on humans. Puppy or dog vaccine is typically an altered dose of the certain virus itself. When it’s injected into the dog’s body, your dog’s natural immune system will start to build up the antibodies that are then circulated through the blood stream. So when the real infection comes into play, these antibodies will enter into the scene, destroy the virus and protect your canine companion. Unfortunately, these antibodies become weak and die.

Depending on how long certain antibodies will stay active, your dogs will need revaccination or boost year after year. Some shots need to be repeated every year and some once in every 3 years, it totally depends on the vaccine type and dog’s lifestyle.

For some canine diseases, no treatments are available. Prevention is the only key!

What Shots Do Dogs Need?

Core Vaccines Vs Non-Core Vaccines

 Global Canine Vaccination Guide” developed by “American Animal Association” classifies vaccines into 2 types. Core vaccines and Noncore vaccines.

  • Core Vaccines are the compulsory vaccines that should be given to every dog.
  • Noncore vaccines are recommended only for certain dogs based on their lifestyle. Only your vet can tell you which vaccines your canine needs.

Core Vaccinations

Core vaccines aka mandatory vaccines protect your canines from the easily transmitted most common diseases like canine parvo, canine adenovirus, canine distemper(CD) and rabies. These core diseases are generally fatal and do not have any effective treatments. Core diseases like rabies are potentially harmful and can even be transmitted to humans. To minimize the risk, Core Vaccines are made mandatory by law in most parts of the United States and other countries.

As these vaccines can offer long term immunity, after the initial shots, it is enough to do revaccination on a schedule of 3 years or longer.

The Core Vaccines Include

  • Canine Distemper (CD)
  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis or Adenovirus
  • Rabies

Until recently these vaccines were suggested once a year but it’s no longer the case. The reason is, length of immunity from these vaccines are proven to stay effective for a minimum of 3 years. So after the initial shots, it is enough to do revaccination on a schedule of 3 years or longer. However, check with your local laws. It may change based on your state and provincial regulations.

Non-core vaccinations

Noncore vaccines are suggested by the vets based on number of things that include health status of dog, age, dog breed, exposure of dog to the disease contracting animal and threat level of any particular disease in the region where you live or about to migrate.

These noncore vaccines should be given to your dogs just prior to the risk period or should be boosted more often if its lifestyle can put them at risk constantly.

Non-core vaccines Include

  • Bordetellaor Kennel Cough
  • Canine Herpesvirus
  • Canine influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Parainfluenza

These non-core Vaccines will stay effective only to a certain period, i.e., Duration of immunity is low. To keep your dog’s immunity level as high as possible, it should be re-vaccinated at least once a year.

What Vaccines Do Dogs Need ?

what shots do dogs need

Overview Of Dog Vaccines (Core and Non-Core)

Canine Distemper (CD)

  • Canine Distemper or CD is caused by Canine Distemper Virus. It is highly contagious and very fatal that affects dogs worldwide.
  • It is a multisystemic disease. Thus, it can cause one or more of the diseases at the same time.
  • Neurological disease ( Ex: seizures).
  • Severe and sudden immunosuppression.
  • Respiratory disease with heavy pneumonia.
  • Gastrointestinal disease with diarrhea and
  • Until now, CD and parvovirus are being the two most infectious diseases among all dog breeds. CD accounts for more number of dog fatalities in the areas where CDV vaccination is limited.
  • Canine Distemper is a vaccine preventable disease.
Source of Infection:

Contracting with another infected dog, wildlife.


  • Canine parvovirus is yet another contagious and infectious disease that affects dogs worldwide. The bloody culprit that causes this disease is canine parvovirus (type-2).
  • It quickly affects the puppies that are less than 1 years of age. It can also affect dogs of any age.
  • Dogs affected by this disease show the symptoms of vomiting, dehydration, and bloody diarrhea often.
  • In young puppies, this disease can trigger a heartache that may lead to the sudden death.
  • Older dogs affected by this parvovirus are less likely to develop the severe symptoms, but they shed lots of viruses that become a source of infection for the susceptible young
  • This disease is an extremely fatal one just next to Distemper. Luckily, it is a vaccine-preventable illness. If you ask me what vaccines do dogs need, as a concerned dog owner, my answer would definitely include both of the above vaccines.
Source of Infection

Urine, saliva, stool and other body fluids of an infected dog, contaminated environment where the infected dog is housed. This virus can live in any environment up to a year and are very difficult to destroy.

Hepatitis or Adenovirus -1

  • Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) is highly contagious that can affect canines and wild canids like Fox. Relatively young puppies and age old dogs are more susceptible candidates to this virus.
  • ICH IS caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) which lives stable in the environments. So the place that is used to house the infected dogs should be considered as a contaminant one.
  • Symptoms of Hepatitis highly vary from mild fever to allergic uveitis, e., Blue eyes.Your dog may exhibit the symptoms of severe depression, encephalitis, interstitial nephritis, bleeding disorders, chronic hepatitis and severe abdominal pain.
Source of Infection

Infected dogs, wildlife and contaminated environments.


  • Rabies is really painful, highly contagious and fatal. Luckily, It’s a vaccine-preventable disease, and it’s the law. If you miss to vaccinate the dog, and it gets affected by rabies, it would kill the poor animal pathetically. For Rabies, only prevention is the key.
  • Even if you grow your dog indoors, you and your pet needs protection against rabies.
  • Though Rabies affects both man and other mammals, dogs are considered as the high reservoir of this Virus. Regarding the transmission of Rabies to humanity, both Dogs and cats should be regarded as the high-risk
  • It affects the nervous system and cause paralyzes. Your dog or cat will even find difficulty in swallowing. When it reaches the final stage, it will start to exhibit hypersensitivity to noise and touch and would behave weird out of pain. An infected dog will also avoid other pet animals and people and may strive to attack anything that moves.
  • how often do dogs need rabies shots? Only your vet can decide it as per your dog’s immune status.
Source of Infection

Salvia, bites, and other skin wounds from the infected animals. Even a scratch from infected animals will make your dog sick and so you!


  • Bordetella is a non-core vaccine that is recommended for any dog based on its lifestyle. 
  • In the Unites States, The term “Bordetella” is used to denote the most common upper respiratory problems occur in dogs. This contagious disease affects the relatively high percentage of dogs worldwide.
  • Other names of this disease include a kennel cough, tracheobronchitis, and Bordetellosis.
  • Unlike other canine diseases, so many agents can cause Bordetella in dogs. The primary viral agent is parainfluenza virus.
  • Symptoms of infected dogs include watery nasal discharge, fever, dry cough mostly like honking sound, lethargy, pneumonia and inappetence.
  • As a kennel cough is much like cold or flu, treatments for this disease is available for both mild and severe cases.
  • Bordetella only causes mild illness in healthy dogs. However, when infected puppies or dogs have underlying health issues, it will create severe health issues. Sometimes even death.
Source Of Infection

Direct contact with other infected dogs like licking and nuzzling, coughing and sneezing and contaminated objects.

Canine Herpes Virus (CHV)

  • CHV is also known asfading puppysyndrome“. In adult dogs, it usually affects the reproductive.
  • Although the infected dogs hardly show any symptoms, it ultimately results in the death of newborn. If one puppy in the litter gets affected by CHV, and it dies without any warning, the entire litter may perish within 24 hours.
  • When puppies contract this disease after 3 to 4 weeks, the effects will seem less severe. Because of the better immunity, they have higher chances of survival. However, they will have prolonged side effects due to this infection.
  • Sometimes adult dogs infected by this virus can show the symptoms of nervous system abnormalities, kennel cough, seizures, frequent abortions and blindness.
  • Infected puppies may show symptoms like nasal discharge, persistent crying, painful abdomen, Hemorrhages, weakness and lethargy.
  • This disease is reportedly seen in the countries United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, England, and Japan.
Source Of Infection
  • In adult dogs, this disease is transmitted via sneezing, sniffing, licking, nosing and any other form of physical contact between infected and non-infected.
  • Puppies usually get this disease from its mother in the birth canal or through oral and nasal secretions from mother right after the birth.

Canine Influenza

  • Canine influenza or dog flu is highly contagious, and it can quickly spread from infected dogs to the other ones.
  • This influenza outbreaks year around. Irrespective of the breed, sex, age and health status this influenza can affect all dogs.
  • The illness caused by Canine Influenza can be mild or severe. The signs include a persistent cough, eye discharge, mild fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and reduced appetite. Mostly dogs discover this disease within 2 to 3 weeks. Dogs may also develop the severe secondary infection like pneumonia.
Source of Infection

Direct contact with the infected dogs (sneezing, licking, coughing), contaminated objects ( leashes, collars, food and water bowl), human moving between infected and non-infected dogs.

Leptospirosis Vaccine

  • Another name of the disease Leptospirosis is known as field fever that is caused by the so-called bacteria Leptospira.
  • Symptoms of this disease include mild headaches, high fever, muscle pains, loss of appetite, weakness, and vomiting. In most cases, early symptoms will not be seen until it becomes severe. However, the untreated leptospirosis will result in serious liver and kidney damages.
  • This disease is highly contagious to both human and animals. Leptospirosis outbreaks happen during the winter, so late fall is the perfect time to vaccinate your pet once in every year.
Source Of Infection

Urine of infected dog or the soil that contains dog’s urine.

Lyme Disease

  • Ticks are the main culprits that cause Lyme disease. It can affect both human and animals. Besides to vaccinating the dog, dog owners who are exposed to ticks are advised to get the Lyme Vaccine.
  • This vaccination is very controversial for causing the side effects that include a form of Lyme disease itself.
  • As with few other canine diseases, symptoms of Lyme disease will not be shown at early stages.
  • However, the Lyme vaccine will not offer protection against many of the other Tick-Borne Diseases, so other tick control methods are still required even for vaccinated dogs. Ask your vet what shots do dogs need to stay away from all Tick related diseases.
Source Of Infection

Exposure to Ticks.

Canine Parainfluenza

  • It is a very fatal and highly contagious respiratory system disorder. Infected dogs may exhibit the symptoms of a dry cough, depression, runny nose and loss of appetite.
  • Regardless of the age of dogs, any dog that is weakened will easily get affected by Para Influenza. Since this virus is airborne, the regular cleaning of contamination is not going to help.
  • The risk of developing this disease is high when a dog is kenneled along with another dog that are infected.
Source Of Infection


Further Reading and References :

Hope you find this article, what shots do dogs need is useful. If you have any suggestions or experiences in treating these diseases, please drop your comments in the comments section.It would help our readers in a great way.

Data given here should only be used for informational purposes. It should not be taken as an alternate guide to your vet's opinion. Based your dog's immune status and local laws, only your vet can give you an informed suggestion about your pet vaccination.

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