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Everything You Need to Know About Puppy and Adult Dog Vaccinations

India's been an online writer for over eight years. She often writes about canine behavior, world cuisine, photography, and LGBTQ rights.

Vaccines for a Puppy are different than those needed for an adult dog!

Vaccines for a Puppy are different than those needed for an adult dog!

Are Dog Vaccination Shots Really That Important?

Our pets should be vaccinated in the fight against infectious diseases. From the first puppy shots, to the booster shots down the road, throughout a dogs life these weapons must remain in a dog's arsenal to aid in the prevention of disease and illness. But, what makes dog vaccines so valuable and why do they help the canine immune system stay ready to do battle? This article will help to answer those questions. So, let's get started!

How Do Dog Vaccines Work?

Any vaccine, whether meant for human or beast, contain antigens that in the immune system "appear" to be the actual disease-causing organism, yet do not cause the disease. When a vaccine is administered to a healthy animal, the immune system puts together a protective reaction to fight the disease. Then down the road, should the dog be exposed to the actual disease-causing virus or bacteria, the immune system already understands exactly how to either prevent or reduce the intensity of the disease. This is because the dogs immune system has already undergone a trial run when contending with the impostor disease we refer to as a canine vaccine.

Can Puppies Without Shots Be Around Other Dogs?

Above and at right, you see our Golden Retriever puppy sitting with our adult Chow-mix dog. This should only be the case after the puppy has completed its round of shots (vaccinations). Nia, our five year old Chow mix, was fully vaccinated and healthy when we brought Kal (our Golden Retriever pup) home. But, he only got to come home after completing his vaccine schedule and after fully weaning from his mother. A well adjusted healthy puppy, becomes a great adult dog!

Puppy Vaccines Are Different From Boosters!

When Kal was just a Puppy, his vaccination needs were far different from Nia's. Our black Chow mix was about five when Kal came into the picture. She wasn't too sure what think of this active crazy furry thing!

When Kal was just a Puppy, his vaccination needs were far different from Nia's. Our black Chow mix was about five when Kal came into the picture. She wasn't too sure what think of this active crazy furry thing!

What Do I Need to Know About Puppy Shots?

The first milk a mother dog produces, colostrum, contains antibodies that when drank keep the puppy protected from diseases until their own immune system has a chance to develop enough to manage the task on its own. The bad news is that these same antibodies tend to interfere with a vaccine's ability to wake-up the puppy's own immune system. Because of this tit-for-tat situation, your veterinarian needs to give your puppy vaccines every three or four weeks starting when the little fuzz-ball is around six to eight weeks old, and continue on a vaccine schedule until the puppy is about sixteen weeks old.

Should I Get My Puppy Rabies Shots?

Rabies is one vaccine that has to be administered a little differently; the initial vaccine isn't given until a puppy is twelve weeks old. The importance of completing the vaccine and booster series for your puppy is critical. When adopting or getting a puppy, make sure you get (in writing) which vaccines and when they had been given to the pup. This will help to give your vet the information to keep your puppy on its vaccine schedule without interruptions.

Test Your Dog Knowledge Here

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which environment would a snub-nosed dog breed do best during excercise?
    • Cool, dry weather.
    • Hot, humid weather.
    • Rain and icy weather.
  2. Which environment would a short-haired sighthound dog breed do best during excercise?
    • Cold rain
    • Snow
    • Warm sun
  3. What are the three critical componants that every dog should always be wearing?
    • Sunblock, booties, and a bow
    • ID tag, rabies tag, and license tag (where required)
    • Flea control, collar, leash
  4. When playing tug-of-war with your dog, what is the MOST important rule your dog must understand?
    • He has to win
    • He must drop the tug object upon command, as you are the pack leader!
    • The toy is his
  5. At what age does a puppy require food to supplement mother's milk?
    • 6 months
    • 8 weeks
    • After the first month of life

Answer Key

  1. Cool, dry weather.
  2. Warm sun
  3. ID tag, rabies tag, and license tag (where required)
  4. He must drop the tug object upon command, as you are the pack leader!
  5. After the first month of life

Vaccinations for Adult Dogs

Your dog will require booster vaccinations throughout his adult life. Your vet generally will send you reminders, but it is also a good practice to keep your own schedule. This will assist you should you move or change to a new vet service at some point.

You should have some understanding of the vaccines your vet will be administering to your pet. Knowing which are appropriate for your canine and how often they should be given, depends on your dogs needs. The choice depends on several factors, including the following two: Risk and Circumstance.

1. Risk factors:

  • How much risk is there that your dogs will be exposed to the disease-causing organisms?
  • How healthy are the dogs your canines hang out with?
  • What environment do your dogs live in?

2. Consequence of infection:

  • The risk an infected dog brings to humans
  • The protective ability of the vaccine
  • The possibility and severity that the dog will react to the vaccine poorly
  • The health and age of the dog
  • The history of reactions to vaccines your dog has had in the past.

A Must Read for Every Dog Owner

Overall, Dog Vaccines Are Very Safe!

For the most part, the reasons for giving a dog vaccines far out-weigh the risk of not giving the vaccines; which also determines weather or not the dog may or may not contract the deadly and/or dangerous disease. To assure the risk is as minimal as possible, BEFORE vaccinating your dog, let your vet know about any current or past health issues, medications, and reactions your dog may have encountered.

Dog Vaccine "Sample" Schedule

DHPPLC is the abbreviation for a combination vaccine that includes distemper, adenovirous 2 (hepatitis virus), parvovirous, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and coronavirus. Check with your vet to decide if your dog requires all of the listed vaccines i



6-8 weeks of age


Bordetella bronchiseptica

6-8 weeks of age or older


DHPPLC, Lyme disease

9 weeks of age


DHPPLC, Lyme disease, Rabies

12 weeks of age



16 weeks of age



20 weeks of age



6-12 months of age

Bordetella bronchiseptica



DHPPLC, Lyme disease


Every 1-3 years (this depends on the laws in your state)


Watch for Vaccine Reactions in Your Dog

If a dog is reacting oddly after a vaccination, you should check-in with your vet to make sure the reaction is appropriate for your dog.

If a dog is reacting oddly after a vaccination, you should check-in with your vet to make sure the reaction is appropriate for your dog.

Recognizing Dog Vaccine (Shots) Reactions Mild and Serious

Below you will find a short list of mild and serous reactions your dog may display after receiving a vaccination. Should you feel your dog is having a reaction associated with vaccines, call your veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms of Dog Vaccine Reactions

Any of the mild reactions are pretty common and can appear in hours to a few days after being vaccinated. They generally last no more than a few days.

Mild Symptoms

  • Sensitivity at injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Reduced appetite and activity
  • Sneezing (for about a week following an intranasal vaccination)
  • Small, firm painless swelling under the skin at injection site. (Usually goes away after a few weeks, but if you notice it, check-in with your vet.)

Serious Symptoms of Dog Vaccine Reactions

These reactions happen very rarely, but require veterinarian intervention quickly.

  • A potentially life-threatening allergic reaction within a few minutes and up to an hour after vaccination. It appears as hives, severe vomiting and diarrhea, and/or collapse and death. (Again, this is pretty rare.)
  • A sarcoma tumor—sarcomas are malignant (cancerous) tumors that develop in tissues which connect, support, or surround other structures and organs of the body— that develops at the injection site a few weeks, months, or even longer following vaccination.
Keep your dog and the people around him safe by maintaining a vaccination schedule!

Keep your dog and the people around him safe by maintaining a vaccination schedule!

Vaccinating Your Dog

No matter what breed, size, or age your dog may be, it is imperative that it be given vaccines to prevent the spread of diseases. This is for the protection and health of your canine as well as the health and protection of the human population. Many diseases that attack canines can also make humans sick (rabies in particular). It is your responsibility as a dog owner to manage the health and welfare of your pet. Again, this is for the sake of your pet as well as your human counter parts.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments for "Are Dog Vaccination Shots Really That Important"

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 24, 2011:

Mrs. M~ Thank you so much! I am glad this hub motivated you to learn more about your dogs vaccinations, I hope it serves you well in the future.

HubHugs and a very Merry Holiday wish just for you~


Mrs. Menagerie from The Zoo on December 24, 2011:

Very useful hub K9! I have always relied completely on my vet to know what shots my dog needs and when. Now, I feel much more informed. I love your adorable photos!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 22, 2011:

livelonger~ Bummer about the allergies...could always consider a American hairless Terrier, Basenji, Bichon Frise, Poodle and Poodle crosses, and if you can stand the sight of them, Chinese Crested! All are considered good for those who suffer the ravishes of allergies (which is just a miserable state).

I sure appreciate that you made it by on this beautiful day during the celebration of Lights. Thanks for checking in on a hub about dog vaccines, even as you are not a dog owner, your support is highly appreciated!

Wishing you a wonderful celebratory few days!

Huge Holiday HubHugs and a warm Shalom my friend~


Jason Menayan from San Francisco on December 22, 2011:

Another Hub by K9keystrokes, another bounty of information. :) We don't have a dog (allergies!), but I still found this fascinating, and it's a great resource for those who do have dogs. Vaccinations are important, and there's the right way (and timing) to go about it, as your Hub makes very clear. Great quiz, too!

Shalom and HubHugs!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 22, 2011:

Simone~ Thanks for the comments. Knowing which vaccines are needed and when they should be administered is really important for adult dogs, but vital for puppies. Some might think one set of shots makes your pup safe; nothing could be further from the truth! Wonderful to see you in the HubHood today!



Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on December 22, 2011:

This is so useful! I know a lot of folks who just take their dogs to the vet and have the vet do all the thinking. I say it's important to know what all the important vaccines are so that one totally understands what one's pets are getting covered for, and if they might be missing anything important! Great Hub.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 21, 2011:

Ercolano~ You make many very good points surrounding health care for our dogs and pets in general. So often we try to do what we believe to be the best thing for our furry friends, and as you recommend, knowing our pets and understanding what the particular needs are can be the best medicine. Reputable vet services are critical and I always say research a veterinarian prior to using him/her. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on dog vaccinations here. Your doing good things by sharing your knowledge!



India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 21, 2011:

Mary~ So glad you shared your experience from your youth. Normally it would surprise me to find that someone today would neglect to get their pet vaccinated, but I have heard of it happening more than I care to think about. Thanks so much for sharing your comments here!

HubHugs to you, Baby and Baily~


Sam Walker on December 21, 2011:

This is a subject close to my heart, having researched some time ago what the world's top veterinarians have to say about the vaccination of our pets, many actually saying twice should be enough for some of them and admit a lot of it can be simply money grabs by vets. I have never been comfortable simply taking my dog for annual boosters like people do willy nilly because they receive a card in the post, over medication can cause more problems than those they're meant to prevent from the information I've found from the world's top scientists who've written papers on these issues. Also where I come from, they're supposed to be free, but try getting them without paying the $50.00 for what they call an annual health check-up; simply looking in their eyes and ears and mouth - which is, apparently, not optional. After such a check up, my last dog was deemed healthy three days before he actually died from advanced renal disorder despite having been taken to the vet a number of times in that week and nothing said about that then, nothing said about the ulcers in his mouth. But back to the point, I would always, always, recommend a titre after two or three-years-old, and an extremely reputable vet; some vaccs/treatments may not be necessary at all; where I live, there hasn't been cases of certain things (I forget what they're called, something to do with water disease for one) in decades, yet they still inoculate for it; also domestic rabies is extremely rare and so knowing a number of dogs who'd have bad issues with that one, least of which is a bald patch appearing, I choose not to have that done; my dog not one that runs in the wild after squirrels or such like. I would say just be aware of your individual dog's needs and research info before you do anything. Thanks.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 21, 2011:

Thanks for this info. I can't imagine any responsible pet owner NOT getting the proper vacccinations for their pets! We lost a dog once to Distemper because we were young and ignorant at the time. I voted this UP, etc. Goodnight.

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 21, 2011:

You bet Victoria! Honored to have you along!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 21, 2011:

JayeWisdom~ Outstanding information! It is wonderful to hear that your vet is actually using the titers evaluation before administering new vaccines. It has only been in recent years that the public has become aware of the over vaccination concerns for dogs (and other pets). Many times the idea that a vaccine may NOT be required was brushed off by vets as nonsense. But, with the development of pet owners involvement and the information provided online, these issues are becoming fast laid lanes to longer pet lives! Thank you for sharing your story, it may well keep a dog healthier than even those unnecessarily frequent vaccines!



Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on December 21, 2011:

Thanks for the info. I'll definitely be checking out more of your dog hubs!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on December 21, 2011:

When my dog was about two years old, she had a life-threatening reaction to a set of vaccinations. The aftermath was an immune system problem that lasted for more than a year.

After she was out of danger, I read everything I could find about over-vaccination of dogs. I think she was given too many shots at once, and they may not have been administered properly. Needless to say, I would never take her to that vet clinic again.

Her current vet uses titers to determine if she still retains immunity from past vaccinations rather than subject her to them without checking. The titers cost me more than the vaccinations would, but it's worth it if she still has immunity and doesn't need the injections. Of course, she must have (by law) a rabies vaccination every three years.

Good news: She had titers done at the veterinary clinic last week during her annual check-up (at which she was pronounced in excellent health), and the vet tech called about an hour ago to tell me she's still protected and doesn't need those particular vaccinations this year!

India Arnold (author) from Northern, California on December 21, 2011:

Victoria Lynn~ Thanks for stopping by. As for the frequency of vaccines, it would depend on the strain of vaccine and the dogs particular circumstances. Some dog fanciers would argue that the rabies vaccine is administered far too frequently for the longevity of the dogs life. While others say that the human population has a stake in the rabies health issue, so frequency has to be the only right answer. I always suggest that whatever the situation, vaccine, or query, if you as a pet owner have a serious health and welfare concern, always check-in with your vet! I sure appreciate your comments, and the great questions!

Hope your holidays are marvelous!



Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on December 21, 2011:

Great hub! I've always wondered how safe vaccinations really are. What about for adult dogs? I've heard that they can actually be effective for 3 years. Do you think that every year is too often? Thanks for the hub! Voted up and several other things!

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