What Shots Are Required for Dogs?

Vaccinations help prevent many diseases.
i Vet preparing an injection image by Sophia Winters from Fotolia.com

Vaccines have contributed greatly to the health and longevity of our canine friends, and it’s important to make sure they get the right ones when they need them. While it’s best to start giving shots when your dog is a puppy, dogs of any age can benefit from vaccines.


The rabies vaccine is required for dogs throughout the United States, because the disease is such a serious health problem. Animals that are not vaccinated can contract the disease, and may then transmit it to the people around them. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reports that at least 50,000 people around the world die of rabies each year, along with millions of animals. The age at which your dog must be vaccinated depends on where you live, but typically pups must get their first rabies shot at 3 to 4 months of age.


The DA2PP is a combination shot that protects your dog against distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus and parainfluenza. This shot is required for dogs starting at 6 to 8 weeks old, and requires boosters every two weeks until the pup is 14 to 16 weeks of age. He needs another booster a year later, with repeated boosters to be given for the rest of his life. Traditionally dogs have been given boosters every year, but studies have shown that in many situations dogs can safely go three years between shots, according to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Check with your vet to find out the best schedule for your dog.


The hepatitis vaccine is recommended for dogs in many areas, and protects your dog against this highly contagious illness. Vets may use a single vaccine that combines hepatitis protection with other essentials, so your dog doesn’t have to get an extra needle stick. Talk to your vet about this one, since if you travel with your dog it’s probably a good idea to give the hepatitis shot even if it isn’t necessary where you live.

Other Vaccines

It is common for vets in different areas to suggest shots appropriate for the location, and if you live in or travel to places where your dog might be at risk for certain diseases, he’ll need to be protected. Some other vaccines that your dog might be required to get include coronavirus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and bordetella. The age at which these are given will vary, as will the number of boosters your dog will need. Your vet is always your best source of information regarding your specific circumstances, so be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with him.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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