Just like humans, a baby puppy needs important vaccinations against disease to help ensure a long, healthy life. Giving vaccines helps the puppy build a natural defense against harmful viruses and bacteria. While a veterinarian generally sets up a puppy’s vaccination schedule, the vaccines given and the timeframe is often the same for each puppy.
6 to 8 Weeks
Since a puppy gets antibodies from the mother’s milk, the first round of shots is not due until he reaches 6 to 8 weeks old. A core vaccine, the 4-in-1 -- which includes distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza -- is given. Also, heartworm prevention should be started at this time.
10 to 12 Weeks
A booster for the four main core vaccines is required between 10 and 12 weeks of age. Also, you vet may determine other non-core vaccinations -- like corona, bordetella, borrelia and leptospira vaccines -- should be started at this age. The need for non-core vaccines is often determined by the owner and veterinarian evaluating puppy’s lifestyle and surroundings. For instance, puppies that travel often may need a vaccine against kennel cough, whereas those who stay home are generally not in contact with the virus that causes it.
14 Weeks and Over
Between 14 and 16 weeks, your puppy is ready for his final 4-in-1 booster. Additionally, this is often when the rabies vaccine is administered. After the puppy reaches a year old, vaccines are given annually. Often the veterinarian gives a rabies and booster for the core and non-core vaccines. Also, he checks annually for heartworms and administers the vaccination necessary to prevent them.
Generally, puppies do not have a reaction to common vaccines. If a reaction or side effect -- such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing or heavy panting -- occurs, it is often mild and does not last long. However, if the puppy shows signs of distress or the seemingly minor reactions fail to cease after 24 hours, call your veterinarian.