Pet Blog / Dog Vaccination Guidelines: Required Dog Vaccinations, Recommended Schedule & Costs

Dog Vaccination Guidelines: Required Dog Vaccinations, Recommended Schedule & Costs

Updated Feb 2023

Vaccines are designed to help protect your dog against a variety of diseases that can cause severe symptoms or even death. Whether you’re introducing a puppy or an adult dog to your family, it’s a great idea to be aware of what vaccinations and boosters they’ll need, based on their current health, age, where you live, and what’s required by law to protect your dog, other pets, and people. 

How many vaccines do dogs need and which are really needed? Well, your veterinarian can help you figure out which shots would be most beneficial and other steps to take to keep your companion as healthy as possible. After all, just like humans, every canine is one-of-a-kind!

To give you a general idea of what to expect when it comes to dog vaccinations—and how you can save money when it’s time to give your furry friend their shots—we’ve created this easy guide. 

What vaccines do dogs need?

When it comes to vaccines for your canine companion, there are two main categories: core and non-core. 

Put simply, core vaccines for dogs are those that are mandatory, while non-core vaccines are those that your veterinarian might recommend based on your pooch’s needs, such as the level of risk that your pet will be exposed to a particular disease. 

Core vaccines include:

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

Non-core vaccines include:

  • Canine Parainfluenza
  • Canine Influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Bordetella

Did you know?

Sometimes, your dog will receive one vaccine that covers several diseases at once. For example, the DHLPP vaccine can help protect against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. 

Do dogs need to be vaccinated every year?

Your dog may need to receive booster shots for certain vaccines, and your veterinarian will advise you on the timing of those boosters so your pet will continue to be protected. Some vaccines may require annual boosters, while others might be effective for longer or shorter stretches of time. 

Just follow your vet’s instructions to achieve the proper level of immunity that can help keep your canine as safe as possible. And remember that various factors, such as your dog’s breed, medical history, and allergies, might influence what vaccines and boosters are most appropriate for them. Even reactions to previous vaccines might play a role in whether or not your pooch can receive boosters safely. 

What does a dog vaccination schedule look like?

Again, your vet will guide you through the vaccination process for your puppy or adult dog. But, here’s a general schedule to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • From 6 to 8 weeks of age, your veterinarian might recommend giving your puppy a DAP or DHP shot, which helps protect against distemper, adenovirus (hepatitis), and parvovirus. Or, your vet might prefer using a vaccine that includes protection against parainfluenza as well (in that case, it would be referred to as DHPP). This is considered a core vaccine. If your vet also recommends non-core vaccines at this point in time, your puppy might receive shots that help protect against bordetella and parainfluenza (if not already included in the core vaccine).

  • From 10 to 12 weeks of age, your puppy might receive another shot of the DAP vaccine. And non-core vaccines that might also be administered at this time include leptospirosis, canine influenza, and lyme. 

  • From 14 to 16 weeks of age, your puppy might receive a rabies vaccine. This vaccine might be given earlier, however, depending on local regulations. At this point in time, or when your puppy is at least 16 weeks old, your vet might also give the final shot of the DAP vaccine as well. If non-core vaccines for leptospirosis, lyme, and canine influenza are to be administered, they might also be given at this time.

  • Adult dogs might receive boosters annually or every three years, depending on the vaccine. For example, depending on which rabies vaccine for dogs is used, and what local laws require, your dog might need to receive a yearly booster shot or a booster every three years. The DAP vaccine might also need to be given again every three years after an initial booster a year after the first series of shots is given. And if your dog has received non-core vaccines, they might need boosters annually for those as well.

As you can see, there are several vaccines that your dog may need, so be sure to discuss the best plan with your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with the booster shot schedule and talk about any possible side effects of vaccines. 

Did you know?

Your veterinarian might recommend checking titers to see if your adult dog truly needs a booster or if previous shots are continuing to provide enough immunity. That way, you might avoid over-vaccination and its potential side effects. Work closely with your vet to weigh the pros and cons of boosters and titers, and to make the right decisions for your dog. Just keep in mind that this likely won’t be possible in cases when a vaccine booster is required by law. 

How much do dog vaccinations cost?

How much are dog vaccinations going to cost? Well, it depends on what your veterinarian decides to charge. Prices can also vary from one location to another. 

For instance, core vaccines that are given to puppies might cost $75 to $100, on average. On the other hand, a non-core vaccine, such as the bordetella vaccine, might cost $19 to $45, on average. And a rabies vaccine might cost, on average, $15 to $20. 

What about low cost dog vaccinations?

To save money, you might be tempted to head to a vaccination clinic that provides low-cost options. While this might be helpful because you may not need to spend as much, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. 

For example, at a regular veterinary office, you might pay more for a vaccine, but you might also end up getting a more thorough exam to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to receive a vaccine in the first place. Also, it’s a good idea to do your research into low-cost options, and ask plenty of questions about the vaccines’ quality, before opting to take this route with your pet. That way, you’ll know the types of vaccines that are given at a clinic, and whether or not they’re the latest formulations that can provide the highest level of protection. 

Can pet insurance help you save money on dog vaccination costs?

Enrolling in high-quality pet insurance can be a smart way to save money when it comes to providing your pooch with the veterinary care they’ll need throughout their life. But what does pet insurance cover and are vaccinations included? Well, it depends on the provider and plan that you go with. You might find that you need to add a wellness rider to your policy in order to receive support when it comes to routine check-ups and vaccinations. 

If you’d like to start shopping for affordable pet insurance plans that include coverage for vaccinations, check out the Direct Benefits Marketplace, where you can browse the many options that are available in your area.