Ensuring the health and wellness of your pup goes beyond buying them nutritious dog food and making sure they get their daily exercise. To help them stay their best, they also need to stay up to date on their vaccinations. Contact your neighborhood Vetco Vaccination Clinic to find out what your pup needs and how much it will cost, and to make your appointment.

This article focuses on vaccinations, but it’s important to remember when budgeting for vet care costs, that your dog’s preventive care needs don’t stop with vaccinations. Heartworm tests, prescription medication for heartworm and other internal parasites, flea and tick prevention, and vitamins and supplements also need to be factored in.

A meeting with the vet

What Vaccines does my dog need?

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) splits vaccines into two categories: core and non-core. Core vaccines are those that every dog needs and includes the rabies vaccine and the combination DHPP vaccine that protects against distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus. Non-core dog vaccinations are determined by where you live and your lifestyle. A dog who has regular grooming appointments, goes to doggy day care, plays with friends at the dog park and sometimes boards in a kennel may need non-core dog vaccinations that a dog who does none or only some of those things will need. Consult your Petco veterinarian about what vaccines are suitable for your dog.

Most Common Dog Vaccinations

The following vaccinations can help the broadest range of canines and often protect against the most severe illnesses.

Rabies is spread to unvaccinated animals through the saliva of infected animals, most commonly skunks, raccoons, coyotes and foxes. In unvaccinated animals, rabies causes muscle spasms, paralysis and death—and once symptoms appear, there is no viable treatment. Its lethality and ease of transmission are why most states require a rabies vaccine for dogs by law. Even if your state doesn’t legally require it, every dog should be vaccinated for rabies unless your veterinarian recommends against vaccination for medical reasons.

Rabies is often a routine part of puppy vaccinations and can be given as early as 12 weeks or any time after. Your dog will need a booster one year later and then boosters every three years after that.

The DHPP vaccine for dogs is a combined vaccination for distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and parvovirus. Distemper affects dogs’ respiratory and nervous systems and can cause coughing, sneezing and neurological problems. This disease is often fatal. The adenovirus vaccine protects dogs against both CAV-2—which can cause kennel cough—and liver infections caused by CAV-1.

The parainfluenza vaccine protects against another strain of kennel cough.

Parvovirus is a deadly disease that commonly affects puppies. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea and often death, even with aggressive treatment. It’s also highly contagious, so pet parents should keep young dogs out of communal areas until two weeks after they’ve had all puppy vaccinations and boosters.

The Bordetella vaccine protects dogs from two strains of kennel cough but not all of them. It’s commonly referred to as the “kennel cough vaccination.”

Bordetella isn’t always fatal, but it can be. This disease causes terrible coughing and vomiting and can be highly contagious. That’s why this vaccine is often required for dogs who are boarded or attend day care. It’s recommended for any dog who is frequently in communal areas with other dogs.

Canine influenza is another virus that can cause kennel cough, although it’s not as common as Bordetella, parainfluenza or CAV-2. It can be very contagious, however, and pet parents whose pups spend time in communal environments should consider this dog vaccination.

The leptospirosis vaccine for dogs—or “lepto vaccine” for short—became well known relatively recently. Leptospirosis is carried by rodents and other wildlife and is commonly transmitted through contaminated standing water or mud—typically puddles or ponds. It can cause vomiting, lethargy, increased thirst and fever. Luckily, it can be treated, and most dogs make a full recovery. Still, if you live in a high-risk area with stagnant water and lots of wildlife, the lepto vaccine may be recommended for your pup.

The Lyme vaccine for dogs is another vaccination whose need is typically determined by where you live.Lyme vaccinations are more common in the northeastern United States—where the disease is most common—and the upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Reported cases of Lyme disease are increasing across the country, so this may be worth getting if your pet spends lengthy amounts of time outdoors.

Lyme disease can cause inflammation of the joints, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, sensitivity to touch and labored breathing. It’s usually not fatal and can be treated on an outpatient basis, but in some cases, it can become a lifelong, recurring condition. Flea and tick prevention can be integral to preventing this disease, but the Lyme vaccine can provide an extra layer of protection.

How often does my dog need to be vaccinated?

Which vaccines your dog will need each year depends on their age, vaccine history and medical history. If you’re bringing home a new puppy, you should follow a set puppy vaccination schedule based on their age. For adopted adults, you’ll want to know which vaccinations they’ve already received and when so that you can plan future inoculations accordingly. Your Petco vaccination veterinarian can help make the appropriate plan for your dog.

A meeting with the vet

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

Puppy vaccinations are usually administered in multiple doses that might be anywhere from two to four weeks apart. It can be crucial to your dog’s future health to stay current with their puppy vaccination schedule.

Age Recommended Vaccine
6–9 weeks Combination Vaccine/DHPP** without leptospirosis
9–12 weeks Second Combination Vaccine/DHPP**
12–16 weeks Rabies (based on local and state laws) Third Combination Vaccine/DHPP** with leptospirosis where this is a concern
Variable: timing determined by your veterinarian and local laws Additional vaccinations to ask about:
Canine Influenza

Boosters if given and where there is concern:
Lyme Disease

**Based on risk, puppies should receive the DHPP vaccine every two to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old (a minimum of three doses).

Adult Dog Vaccination Schedule

Adult vaccinations often depend more on when your dog was last vaccinated than their age.

Vaccination Timeline
Rabies Second vaccination one year after the first Boosters every three years after that
DHPP Booster vaccination one year after last dose Boosters every three years after that
Bordetella Annual or 6-onth boosters, or as needed
Lyme Disease Annually for dogs in high-risk areas
Leptospirosis Annually for dogs in high-risk areas
Canine influenza Annually if recommended by your veterinarian

If you have any questions about puppy vaccination schedules or dog vaccinations in general, consult your Petco veterinarian. When you’re ready to bring your dog in for a booster or a round of puppy shots, Petco is here to help. Find a vaccine clinic at a neighborhood Petco Pet Care Center near you.