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What Vaccines Do Dogs Need?

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Clovis is a Veterinary Assistant and Safety Certified Groomer.

Did you get a new puppy? Have you adopted a new dog? Well, congratulations on opening your home to a loyal, loving, four-legged new family member! In the same way that we have annual visits to the doctor, your dog will need to regularly see the veterinarian for their yearly vaccines.

There are four core vaccines that your pup will need in order to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. So, which vaccines do dogs need?


Well, these are the vaccines most recommended by vets!


The Distemper Vaccine

This vaccine is also referred to as DAPP or DHPP; it protects an aggressive and often deadly disease called parvovirus. When contracted, parvo attacks the GI system, causing an array of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Distemper has been known to kill puppies with undeveloped immune systems, sometimes within 5 to 7 days.

The vaccine is typically administered at 8 weeks of age, and requires a booster every 3 to 4 weeks until the animal has reached 16 weeks of age. Once the last shot has been given, your pet should be up to date on this vaccine for at least 1 year.


If you think your puppy has contracted parvovirus, take them to your local pet ER for treatment. They will likely need antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids, but consult your veterinarian before administering any medications!

The Leptospirosis Vaccine

Leptospirosis is frequently seen in wildlife urine, so if you live in a heavily wooded area with deer, skunks, raccoons, and other outdoor critters, you’ll definitely want to be sure your pup gets this vaccine! Lepto is a zoonotic bacterial infection, which means that it is transmittable to both humans and animals.

Left untreated, leptospirosis can advance into a secondary condition called Weil’s disease. At this stage, your pet will experience yellowing of the gums and the whites of the eyes. They might be more thirsty, appear lethargic, and are likely to exhibit a fever. If left untreated, this infection can lead to liver disease and renal failure.


Treatment for leptospirosis can vary from intravenous fluids to hospitalization depending on the severity of symptoms. The lepto vaccine is safe to give puppies over 12 weeks of age and requires a 3-week booster.

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The Bordetella Vaccine

Bordetella is also referred to as “kennel cough,” and is typically seen at boarding facilities and occasionally grooming salons when healthy pets come into contact with sick pets, or from bodily fluids. Since it is airborne, kennel cough causes a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that must be treated with prescribed medications from a veterinarian.


If your pet appears to be coughing or hacking excessively and a runny nose accompanied with discharge, they may have contracted Bordetella. Should your pet exhibit any issues with breathing or purple gums, this is an emergency and you should go to your nearest ER vet clinic.


The bordetella vaccine can be administered starting at 8 weeks of age.


The Rabies Vaccine

This vaccine is not only highly recommended, but it is also required by law! Rabies is often seen in wildlife such as bats, squirrels, and raccoons. Since these critters tend to be prevalent in both wildlife and in the city (depending on your region) it's crucial to vaccinate your dog against the rabies virus. It is incurable, and can be spread to humans.


When contracted, rabies causes difficulty swallowing which may result in excess salivation. There may be a fever present, and eventually neurological symptoms as the virus inflicts severe damage to the brain. Unfortunately, rabies is fatal. So, take this vaccine seriously!

Much like in humans, vaccines can occasionally cause allergic reactions. It is normal for your pet to experience some tenderness around the injection site, so keep an eye on it for a few days to be sure there isn’t any swelling. If you notice any vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, contact your care provider immediately.


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.

© 2022 Clovis

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