Why Your Puppy’s Vaccine Schedule Matters

Dr Amelia Bunker, Resident Veterinarian - Knose Pet Insurance

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Dr. Amelia Bunker

Dr. Amelia Bunker (BVSc), our resident veterinarian at Knose, blends her passion for animal care with her expertise in veterinary science. Her journey from mixed practice clinics to insurance expert motivates her dedication to animal welfare, both in her professional role and as a pet owner.

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Vaccines are an important part of helping puppies stay healthy. With vaccinations, puppies have a lower risk of catching certain diseases, some of which could be fatal. If you’re raising a new puppy, find out more about different kinds of puppy vaccines that are available and when your puppy should receive them. Keep in mind that initial vaccines and booster vaccines are given on a recommended schedule.

Types of Puppy Vaccines

Which vaccine does your puppy need? Puppies typically receive vaccinations that protect against the following diseases. Note that before they reach their 12th week, puppies need to be dewormed every 2 weeks.

  • Distemper: This disease can cause severe and fatal damage to your puppy’s nervous and respiratory system.
  • Canine adenovirus: This disease can cause serious damage to the liver, kidneys, and eyes.
  • Parvovirus: This disease, which can cause dehydration and other severe problems, can be fatal for puppies and adult dogs.
  • Parainfluenza virus: This respiratory virus is usually mild, but some puppies could develop more serious problems from it.
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica: Also known as kennel cough, this respiratory illness is very contagious.
  • Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection can lead to severe damage to the kidney and liver.

Core vs. Non-Core Vaccines

Depending on the type of disease they prevent, vaccines can either be considered core vaccines or non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are a must for puppies and are crucial to helping them ward off deadly diseases in the first few years of their life. Non-core vaccines are optional for puppies and are often recommended according to certain factors such as your dog’s environment or breed history. After careful examination of your puppy, your veterinarian usually lets you know if your puppy should have any of the non-core vaccines.

Core vaccines:

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus

Non-core vaccines:

  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Leptospirosis

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

Puppies have a vaccination schedule and are given according to different time intervals. These include initial vaccines, first boosters, second boosters, and annual boosters. These boosters help ensure your puppies receive their full protection from certain diseases that may impact their quality of life.

Type of VaccineAge & Range Given
Initial Vaccines Between 6–8 weeks old
First Booster VaccinesBetween 10–12 weeks old
Second Booster VaccinesBetween 14–16 weeks old
Annual Booster VaccinesApproximately 12 months after the last puppy second booster vaccine, then every 3 years

Second Booster Vaccines

Puppies need to wait three to four weeks before getting their second round of booster vaccines. Keep in mind that some of these vaccines should be given after puppies are 12 weeks old. At this time, puppies start losing the natural immunity they had from their mother. Second booster vaccines are generally done between 14 and 16 weeks of age.

Annual Booster Vaccines

Most vaccines require an annual booster to help dogs stay protected from certain disease. The first subsequent ‘adult’ booster vaccine is traditionally administered approximately 12 months after the last puppy or kitten vaccine (the second booster vaccine). After this first adult booster, some vaccines can be given every three years instead of every year. Your veterinarian can tell you when your dog should get regular booster vaccines throughout their adult life.

Puppy Vaccines and Public Areas

Is it safe to take your puppy to the local park or to another public area with a lot of dogs around? You should wait to do so until at least two weeks after your puppy receives their second booster vaccinations. This helps ensure that these vaccines are providing your puppy with as much protection as possible from parvovirus and other serious diseases. ‘Keep in mind that puppies without full protection can not only catch these illnesses from other infected and unvaccinated dogs, but in some cases can acquire disease from the environment.

If you are thinking about bringing your puppy to a dog daycare facility, a boarding kennel, or a grooming facility, you should note that these places typically require dogs to have up-to-date vaccinations. Your puppy might not be allowed to go to these types of places until after receiving all puppy vaccines. These rules help keep puppies safe from diseases that can easily spread in these public places, such as kennel cough.

Puppy Vaccine Safety

Is it safe for puppies to be vaccinated? Vaccines are generally considered safe for puppies. In fact, serious reactions to these vaccinations are rare. Puppies that do have some reaction to vaccines typically experience mild skin irritation or other mild problems that clear up in a short period of time. Some of the problems that can occur include a low fever, low energy, reduced appetite, and local swelling at the injection site. More serious reactions include trouble breathing, swelling in the face and persistent diarrhoea or vomiting.

If you are worried about the possible effects of puppy vaccines, your veterinarian can provide you with more detailed information about adverse reactions. Keep in mind that protecting your puppy from potentially serious diseases outweighs the very low risk of a reaction.

Your pet’s health is important. At Knose, we know how important it is for you to make the right decisions for your pet’s safety and wellbeing. That’s why we work with Vets to create your pets custom subscription plan design to make pet care easy and affordable.


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