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Health & Wellness

Everything you need to know about dog vaccinations

Vaccinations are an essential part of your dog’s care.

When bringing a new dog or puppy home, scheduling your first vet visit should be on the top of your to-do list — just above snuggles and selfies. It’s this first visit that kicks off your relationship with your chosen veterinarian. You’ll go over which vaccines are recommended for your dog and why they're important, plus the other million questions about your pup’s care you’re sure to have. 

To help you prepare for your first vet visit, we’ve put together a handy guide on what to expect when it comes to routine and optional dog vaccinations. 

Are dog vaccinations important?

Agreeing to vaccinate your dog is the first step in helping them live a happy, healthy and long life. According to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD, a veterinarian in Los Angeles, puppies are born with some immunity to bacterial and viral infections passed from their moms — this is called maternal immunity. But that immunity quickly fades, and your new best friend becomes vulnerable to getting sick. Without vaccines, potential infections can be life-threatening and costly. 

Which dog vaccines are absolutely necessary?

Vaccinations that veterinarians consider absolutely necessary are called core vaccinations. In some states, the rabies vaccine for dogs is even required by law. 

Core dog vaccinations typically include:

Your vet will recommend non-core, or optional, dog vaccinations depending on your dog’s lifestyle, family history and common diseases found where you live. Let your vet know if you and your pal plan to go on lots of hikes, travel or foster other animals. 

Non-core dog vaccinations typically include:

  • Bordetella (kennel cough)
  • Canine influenza virus (dog flu)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Parainfluenza
  • Rattlesnake
  • Coronavirus

 RELATED: Can dogs get COVID-19?

What is the DA2PP vaccine?

The DA2PP vaccination is one shot that protects against four diseases in dogs: canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus and canine parainfluenza virus. Because it protects against so many diseases, this is one of the most important vaccines to give to a puppy. 

How much are dog vaccinations?

The cost of vaccinations can vary. Ask your vet about puppy packages and look for vaccination clinics offering low-cost routine care and vaccinations. 

“Considering the level of immunity that most vaccines reliably create, vaccinations aren’t expensive compared to the cost of diagnosing and treating the diseases for which they prevent,” Dr. Mahaney says. 

The average dog vaccination schedule

Vaccinations will begin in puppyhood, around 6 months of age. You’ll want to return to the vet 6 to 12 months later for boosters. Adult and senior pups also usually need boosters throughout their lives. Your vet will tailor the pup’s booster schedule based on the vaccine, state mandates and your dog’s lifestyle. 

“It's generally a safer health plan to give one or two vaccinations at a time instead of vaccinating a particular dog for many diseases in one appointment,” Dr. Mahaney explains. “Although having multiple vaccination appointments is less convenient, it's a better strategy to stimulate the immune system to produce a protective antibody response and reduce the potential for adverse vaccine responses.” 

What to expect after your dog gets their vaccinations

Some dogs show no side effects after being vaccinated, while others can have mild to severe side effects. This is because vaccines trigger the immune system, jumpstarting the production of antibodies to the specific infection.

“There are risks to dogs getting vaccinations, but generally, risks are low, and immunizations for our pets should be considered safe and beneficial,” Dr. Mahaney says.

Common side effects of dog vaccinations include lethargy, soreness around the vaccination site or whole-body aches, a reduced appetite and water consumption and behavior changes. 

Side effects should improve within 24 to 48 hours, but if any persist or you notice vomiting, diarrhea, hives, stumbling, collapse or low blood pressure, you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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