Marguerite, by Samantha J.licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Have you ever heard this saying?

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself” Josh Billings.

To my mind, there is no better description for a dog! and i am sure You (as a dog owner) would relate. So can’t we, at least be thankful enough to care for his health and help prevent him from life threatening diseases?

Well, my Friend, this is the essence of Vaccination in dogs.

A little prevention can spare you from spending money on expensive treatments and accordingly, may extend your dog’s life. Vaccines can protect your dog from many dangerous and life-threatening diseases.

You might be wondering: “Is vaccination in dogs really important? if so, When would be the best time to do it? And do you need to vaccinate your puppy? Or is vaccination reserved for adult dogs only? Also, Are there any risks associated with dog vaccination?

Don’t worry! In this post, You’ll get all the Answers you’re looking for and EVEN MORE!!

This article is intended to provide you with detailed information about dog vaccination so that you can be fully prepared to your next visit to the Vet.

What is Vaccination?

Vaccination is a treatment used to prevent disease. A vaccine is a product designed to helps the body’s defense system to identify and combat pathogens like bacteria or viruses, keeping your dog safe from future infections.

Vaccination will contribute to both dog health and public health. The vaccine is the suspension of live or inactivated non-pathogenic bacteria or viruses that will slightly stimulate the immune system by making it recognize the antigens present.

If a real disease attacks your dog, your dog body’s defense system will recognize it and fight it or reduce its effect due to immunity develop by vaccination.

Why is vaccination so important in dogs?

Vaccination has been extremely effective in preventing serious illness and improving health worldwide, so your beloved dog needs regular vaccinations to prevent diseases that can shorten his life. Here are some potential reasons why your dog needs the vaccine such as:

  • Protect your dog from infectious diseases by creating or boosting immunity
  • The vaccine against zoonotic diseases also protects you from getting the disease like rabies and leptospirosis
  • Control the spread of diseases to other dogs and pets
  • Prevention of disease will save your money
  • Wildlife can also transmit diseases to an unvaccinated dog, such as distemper and rabies.
  • In many areas, state or local laws necessitate certain vaccinations of dogs
  • Give you peace of mind    

Unfortunately, many of the diseases that your dog can get if they are not vaccinated are fatal in most cases.

Even if your dog catches one and can recover, they will often be affected by long-term problems that can cause you a lot of pain and distress and leave you with some expensive veterinary bills.

In this video the veterinarian will break down 5 reasons why dog vaccination is so important:

What are the Core and non-core Dog Vaccines?

Core dog vaccines

Core dog vaccinations are vital and recommended for every dog regardless of the area or geographical location, and those are the reasons why:

  • The universal risk of exposure
  • The severity of disease
  • The threat of transmission of certain diseases to other animals and dogs, as well as to humans.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, the following dog vaccines are core vaccines:

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is caused by an extremely contagious virus. This virus can affect all types of dogs, but some dogs are at high risks, such as younger puppies (age less than 4 months) and unvaccinated dogs.

Your dog may show these signs, such as loss of appetite, vomiting, extreme dehydration, fever, and often severe bloody diarrhea. The mortality rate can reach up to 91% in untreated cases, but vaccines can prevent this infection.

This disease has no cure, only keeping the dog hydrated and controlling secondary symptoms can keep it active until its immune system defeats the disease.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a highly contagious and viral disease of dogs seen worldwide. The virus can also be spread through shared food and water utensils and equipment.

Your dog may show these signs, such as fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, spasms, hard pad, paralysis, and often death.

This disease has no cure. Only supportive care and efforts to prevent secondary infections can control the disease. The bad news is that infected dogs can shed the virus for months. So the vaccine is the best solution to prevent this disease.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the liver, kidneys, spleen, eye, and lungs. This liver disease is caused by a virus not associated with the human form of hepatitis.

Symptoms range from mild fever and mucous congestion to vomiting, jaundice, enlarged stomach and pain around the liver.

Canine hepatitis has two forms of illness, mild and severe. Most dogs can survive the mild form, but the severe form is dangerous because it can kill your dog.

There is no treatment, but vets can only treat the symptoms. So that vaccination is necessary.


Rabies is a deadly viral disease spread by the saliva of a rabid animal through bites and claw scratches. This disease is considered zoonotic because it can affects both humans and animals.

Your dog may show these symptoms such as headache, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive drooling, fear of water, foaming, self-mutilation, stroke, and death. You should consult your vet about the rules for rabies vaccination in your area.

Rabies is a very serious disease that’s why, Veterinarians of the National Association of State Public Health wrote a Compendium on Animal Rabies Prevention & Control in 2016, offering recommendations for animal rabies prevention and control programs. Even though, this compendium serves as the basis for rabies immunization law and regulation in most States, there are many individual specific regulations related to some States.

Please refer to this site for further information.

Non-core vaccines

Non-core vaccines may be advised based on your geographical location, local environment and dog’s lifestyle.

Non-core vaccines are generally recommended especially where contraction of the specific infection is more. For example, your vet may suggest certain non-core vaccines if your dog is boarded frequently.

The following are the non-core vaccines that your vet may recommend in certain circumstances.


Bordetella is the primary cause of Kennel cough. Your dog may show symptoms like severe fits of coughing, vomiting, whooping, and, in rare cases, seizures and death.

This vaccine is recommended for dogs that are expected to board, show or enter a kennel within 6 months of vaccination.

Canine Parainfluenza

Canine parainfluenza is also the potential cause of kennel cough in dogs. This respiratory virus is highly contagious and commonly develops in situations where many dogs are very close to each other.

Your dog may show these symptoms such as fever, hacking cough, runny nose, sneezing, depression, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Vaccines help to prevent this contagious and sometimes fatal disease, so it’s important to make sure your puppy receives the necessary vaccinations at the right age.


Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria. It is also a zoonotic disease. It can be transmitted from animals to people.

Your dog may not show any symptoms, but at some point, it shows a fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, severe weakness, lethargy, diarrhea, loss of appetite, jaundice, muscle pain, infertility, and kidney failure.

If treatment is started earlier then chances of recovery are more.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease, also known as borreliosis, is an infectious tick-borne disease caused by bacteria called a spirochete.

Your dog may show signs of fever, lameness, swollen lymph nodes and paralysis.

As previously mentioned, this disease is transmitted through deer ticks. Vaccination is also indicated in certain settings where deer ticks occur frequently.


Coronaviruses in dogs cause 2 types of diseases:

  • A gastrointestinal disease, caused by Canine Enteric coronaviruses (CECoV type I and II). And,
  • A respiratory disease “Kennel Cough”, caused by Canine respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV), in contribution with other germs.

Your dog may show some signs, such as loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Or respiratory distress and other symptoms of the “common cold”, Vaccination is the only effective solution.

Check out the article “Everything Pet Owners need to know about COVID-19 in Dogs” for more detailed information.

Are there optional dog vaccines?

There are currently several types of dog vaccines available on the market, but not all of them are mandatory for your dog. Healthier dogs can generally skip certain optional vaccines, although it’s important to consult with your veterinarian about this.

Before administering those vaccines to your dog, the veterinarian will ask you about his age, medical history, environment, travel habits, and lifestyle.

And then, he will schedule a series of vaccination top-ups in order to boost your dog’s immune system and produce sufficient amounts of antibodies.

Vaccination Schedule for puppies and dogs

Many aspects are taken into account before establishing a dog’s vaccination program. Your veterinarian will design a vaccination program that will help your dog maintain a lifetime of protection against infectious diseases.

This vaccination schedule is for general guidelines. Before vaccinating your dog, you should contact your vet because your vet will determine an appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet.

Age of a dog Recommended Vaccinations Optional Vaccinations
6 to 8 weeks DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis [adenovirus], Parainfluenza and
8 to 12 weeks DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis [adenovirus], Parainfluenza and Parvovirus) Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, Lyme disease, Bordetella,
From 12 weeks Rabies None
14 to 16 weeks DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis [adenovirus], Parainfluenza and Parvovirus) Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Coronavirus
12 to 16 months Rabies, DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis [adenovirus], Parainfluenza and Parvovirus) Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bordetella
Every year None Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, Bordetella, Lyme disease
Every 3 years (after the first-year booster) DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis [adenovirus], Parainfluenza and Parvovirus) None
Every 1 to 3 years Rabies (as required by law) None

Reference of this Table:

Booster and annual vaccination

An additional dose of a vaccine periodically needed to “boost” the immune system is known as a booster dose. There is a difference of opinion about the booster and annual dose.

Some veterinarians believe that too many vaccines in adult dogs pose health risks. But some vets disagree, saying that annual vaccines will prevent dangerous diseases like distemper.

You can opt. the titer tests before the booster dose. Antibody titers are blood tests that show the dog’s immunity levels, and this can determine what vaccines, if any, are needed.

How long can each vaccination last for?

It is important to know how long can last the immunity a vaccine can provide to your dog. Some vaccines can provide immunity for three years, but some vaccines must be repeated after one year to protect your dog.

Here is the amount of time each vaccination can remain effective :

  • Rabies – 3 years
  • DHPP – 3 years
  • Bordetella – 6 months
  • Canine Influenza – 1 year
  • Leptospirosis – 1 year
  • Lyme Disease – 1 year

P.S: Those durations are just for indication purposes and may vary according to the manufacturer. Please refer to your veterinarian in order to determine a proper schedule of vaccination to your dog.

Vaccines required for boarding dog

Reputable boarding kennels will generally ask for proof that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.

Vaccinations must be administered at least 48 hours before arrival under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian.

However, some prefer vaccinations to be administered 10-14 days before check-in to ensure maximum efficiency and also written proof of vaccination is required.

  • Distemper, Parvovirus & Parainfluenza vaccine
  • Bordetella vaccine
  • Rabies
  • Canine Influenza and Leptospirosis vaccine is generally not required, but highly recommended

What are the vaccination requirements for grooming places?

You should know that each place of grooming has its vaccination requirements to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.

Puppies between 2 to 4 months of age may receive services in the salon without vaccinations.

Here are some examples of grooming place requirements.

  • You should wait at least 48 hours after any vaccination before going to any grooming place.
  • Your dog should be up to date with their rabies vaccines.
  • Paperwork of rabies vaccination should be submitted as a proof
  • Your dog must be in good health before receiving any grooming services.

Dog vaccinations: Side effects and risks associated

Any type of therapeutic treatment has related risks and vaccination is no exception, but the risks must be compared to the benefits of protecting your dog, family, and community from life-threatening illnesses. Fortunately, most dogs react well to vaccines.

The impact of adverse reactions related to vaccination of dogs has been considerably debated amongst veterinary professionals worldwide for the past decade.

Mostly the side effects of vaccination are short term and mild. Severe reactions are rare but a variety of suspected adverse reactions of vaccines are reported, including the onset of inflammatory, allergic, autoimmune, or neoplastic diseases

Developments in vaccination techniques and technology have greatly reduced the incidence of neoplastic diseases.

Your dog may experience some minor side effects after vaccination. These reactions usually happen within a few hours of vaccination.

Contact your Vet immediately!

You should immediately contact your veterinarian if these symptoms persist for more than two days

  • Mild fever
  • Swelling at the vaccination site or Discomfort
  • Decreased activity
  • Decrease appetite
  • Respiratory signs such as Sneezing and mild coughing
  • Diarrhea or Vomiting
  • Hives or itchy skin
  • Swelling of the neck, eyes, and muzzle
  • Difficulty breathing or Severe coughing  
  • Anaphylactic shock or seizures
  • Collapse

Swelling can usually develop under the skin at the site of a topical vaccination. This swelling should start to go away in a couple of weeks. If it stays for more than 3 weeks or appears to be growing, you should consult your vet.

It is not recommended that you vaccinate your puppy or dog when you cannot monitor him/her after the vaccination.

You should inform your veterinarian about any previous reaction your dog ever manifested after vaccination, and if it’s the first time you vaccinate your dog, make sure to observe him/her at least 24 to 48 hours after the injection.

Cost of vaccination

The cost of vaccination depends on several factors such as where you live and the type of vaccine. If your vet has a clinic in a crowded and expensive area, then he or she will charge more, but in contrast in rural areas, the vet will charge less.

Your vet will provide you with the exact cost of puppy vaccinations for their first year, but here we will give you a rough estimate.

The DHPP vaccine containing distemper virus, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza has cost around $ 25- $ 35. This vaccine is administered three times over several weeks for a total cost of $ 75- $ 105.

Your puppy or dog will also need a rabies vaccination, which is usually around $15—20. This vaccine is usually required by state law.

The Coronavirus vaccine cost is $10-$15. As you know, this vaccine is administered twice, so the total cost is $ 20- $ 30.

The cost of the Coronavirus vaccine is $ 10- $ 15. As you know, this vaccine is administered twice, so the total cost is $ 20- $ 30.

Tick-borne Lyme disease vaccine costs around $10-$15. As you know, this vaccine is administered twice, so the total cost is $ 20- $ 30.

Leptospirosis vaccine costs around $10-$15. As you know, this vaccine is administered twice, so the total cost is $ 20- $ 30.

Bordetella and Canine Influenza vaccine costs around $10-$15 each. The vaccine is administered twice for a total cost of $40-$60.

Scheduling an appointment for dog vaccinations

Sooner after receiving your new puppy, your must visit your veterinarian so as to establish his/her vaccination schedule.

If you have an adult dog, he or she only needs an annual booster of certain vaccines. You must schedule the appointment after completing the puppy’s vaccination program or, in case of an adult adopted dog an appointment is necessary immediately after arrival.

You should never trust the information provided on the Internet solely, you should only rely on information given by veterinary professionals because they can adjust the vaccination protocol according to your location, the according state laws and the prevalence of certain diseases in your area.

As with any other immunization protocol, the dog vaccination program must be strictly respected without any delay, to ensure your canine companion a healthy life.


Remember, it is important to talk to your Vet, about which vaccines make the most sense for you and your dog. These are only general guidelines, as the recommended types of vaccines and the frequency of vaccination vary depending on the lifestyle of the pet, the surrounding environment and the epidemiological context (all the factors that determine the transmission of certain diseases in relation with a specific location or area).

Always bear in mind that vaccination prevents your dog from many dangerous diseases, but it does not protect your dog completely against all known diseases.


  • Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016
  • American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccination Guidelines, 2017


How long before dog vaccines are effective?

In general, vaccines take nearly 30 days to induce optimum immunization.

Is it necessary to vaccinate your dog every year?

No. However, it is preferable to keep your dog’s vaccinal status up to date, this way you are sure that your animal has the right amount of antibodies to prevent him from getting ill. P.S: this does not apply to rabies vaccine as it is mandatory in some states. Please refer to your state’s regulations.

My dog is overdue for vaccination, what should I do?

Many visually impaired people with additional needs have succeeded in qualifying for a Guide Dog, including those with diabetes, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, stroke victims or amputees. Some organisations have services for those who are both deaf and blind, however, in these cases, the dog has been trained to act as a guide and not as a hearing dog. Once you have contacted a Guide Dog organisation in your area, they will be able to discuss your individual needs.

Can I vaccinate my new dog, If I don’t know his vaccinal history?

Yes, in fact you should vaccinate your dog regardless of his vaccinal history, especially if you don’t dispose of written proof of vaccination. This way you make sure he’s really protected.

Is my pet too old to start to receive vaccinations?

No, In fact if your dog is old he might have acquired natural immunity against most common diseases, yet the vaccination provides him with specific immunization against some very life threatening diseases. So it is never too late to vaccinate your dog. 

What can you give a dog after shots?

Every vaccination causes an increase in body temperature, so you need to Keep your dog well hydrated and avoid any source of additional stress such as exercise or any excessive activity. Instead give him some rest.

How many vaccines does my puppy or kitten need?

It is recommended that you have your puppies vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until they reach the age of at least 16 weeks, In order to provide them with optimum immunity. Ideally starting at 8 weeks, then first top-up at 12, and second one at 16 weeks of age.

How long do the vaccines last?

All vaccines confer an immunity that lasts for one year. Yet, In Some States, after the first annual  boost, you can wait up to 3 years to get your dog vaccinated again.

Can my dog get cat diseases?

Although, there are some diseases common to both species such as rabies and some internal and external parasites. Most diseases are species specific, which means they don’t spread from one species to another.

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