What Vaccines Are Most Essential for Dogs?

Vaccinations play a crucial role in maintaining the health and well-being of dogs. Although the methods of production and varieties of dog vaccines may vary, they all serve a common goal. That is to defend dogs against diseases that can lead to severe illness or even death.

Navigating through the available vaccines for dogs can be overwhelming. That can lead to confusion regarding which vaccines your dog needs. Additionally, different vaccines have varying schedules for administration. That can make it difficult to determine the exact vaccines your dog needs and the appropriate timing for them.


Purpose of Pet Vaccines


Vaccination equips the body's immune system to counteract diseases caused by harmful organisms. The vaccines contain antigens, which mimic the appearance of these organisms but do not cause the disease. 

The immune system activates upon exposure to the vaccine, resulting in mild stimulation. Subsequently, if the pet comes into contact with the actual disease, its immune system recognizes and fights it more effectively or reduces the severity of the illness.


Core Dog Vaccines


Core vaccines aim to protect animals from severe disease or illness. Those for dogs include the following:


Canine Distemper


The canine distemper vaccination is part of a five-way combination shot known as DHLPP. This acronym stands for distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.

The vaccination series should begin when the puppy is six weeks old and every two to four weeks until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. After this, a booster shot is necessary at 12 months, followed by additional boosters every three years.


Protection From Kennel Cough and Hepatitis With the CAV-2 Vaccination

The CAV-2 vaccine provides immunity against both kennel cough and hepatitis. Veterinarians administer this vaccine as part of a combination shot, like the five-way or seven-way vaccine. 

The vaccination schedule usually starts at six weeks, with subsequent doses given every two to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Afterward, dogs receive a combination booster shot a year later and then every three years.


Parvovirus Vaccine


Dogs receive this shot as part of a four- or five-way vaccine (DHPP or DHLPP). Vets administer the initial dose as early as six weeks, with follow-up doses given every two to four weeks until the pup reaches 16 weeks old. A booster shot is necessary a year after the final interval dose and repeated every three years. It might take two weeks for the vaccine to take full effect and provide complete protection for the dog against parvovirus.


Rabies Vaccine


Veterinarians administer the rabies vaccine to puppies when they reach 12 weeks. However, the specific age requirement may differ based on local regulations. After the initial shot, dogs receive a follow-up vaccination within a year. Subsequently, boosters are typically necessary annually or tri-annually, depending on the vaccine type and local laws.




As a responsible pet owner, you will naturally question the necessity of a specific vaccination for your furry friend. You want to ensure their comfort and well-being. While some may argue that vaccinations give peace of mind, others believe in protecting their dog from all harm. Ultimately, it would be best if you prioritized what is best for your beloved canine companion.

If you are uncertain or feeling overwhelmed, feel free to seek advice from your trusted veterinarian. You can make informed and suitable decisions for your dog's health and happiness.

For more on pet vaccines, visit Parktown Veterinary Clinic at our Milpitas, California office. Call (408) 263-3990 to schedule an appointment today.

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