Puppy Vaccination Schedule and Costs

Little puppy vaccine
It's my first vaccination.

Table of Contents

Complete puppy vaccination schedule and costs of all sorts that are due to the subject of this article. We decided to take a closer look at this topic, as many reviews at different dog fanciers’ forums give different figures as well as advice. We decided to make sort of a guide to all-things-vaccination in order to help you understand why vaccination is important and the amount of money you are likely to pay for it. Before we proceed with certain info, let us remind you once again that vaccination is the best preventive measure against 99% of all troubles concerning the health of your puppy. It is better at all times to prevent than trying to save an already threatened life.


Puppy vaccine schedule is practically a set of shots performed according to recommendations during the first year of puppy’s life. In order to determine this “set of shots” you should always perform a check at your vet’s. But BEFORE that let’s learn how the puppy is protected from the first weeks of its life.

Maternal antibodies

Happy puppy
Who said that the doctor scared?

Any mammal that is fed with mother’s milk by default forms its immune system with the help of parents antibodies transferred with the milk. Such milk called “colostrum” contains tons of antibodies but the antibodies can only be transferred within the first 12-24 hours after birth. After that any milk is merely a nutrient helping to increase growth hormone release in order to maintain steady growth and development of the body and its functions. It must be noted that puppy will receive antibodies against diseases that its mother had been previously vaccinated against! For instance, if the mother was not vaccinated against or never was infected with parvo, it means that the puppy is likely to have no natural immunity against the disease unless it is vaccinated properly on time.

Susceptibility window

Science says: this window is the age at which the puppy can be immunized effectively against possible diseases. This age is proportional to the amount of antibodies the puppy inherited from his mother. This amount may be so elevated that the vaccination, even dully performed will be blocked by the antibodies present in puppy’s bloodstream. This is why all vaccines are performed when the amount of antibodies is low. Newborn puppies show tremendous “saturation” with antibodies for several weeks. Veterinarian will perform vaccination when the susceptibility window is open (more about Peteducation.com).

When Should I Begin Vaccinating My Puppy?

Every puppy shows different length of this susceptibility window, despite even being from the same litter as other puppies. According to statistics, 25% of puppies can be immunized at 6 weeks of age; 40% of puppies – at the age of 9 weeks; at the age of 16 weeks and by 18 weeks, the percentage goes from 60% up to 90%. Thus, the complete vaccination schedule must be performed within the very first year of life with several other periodical vaccines attributed as preventive measure once per year.

Smiling puppy
Live the healthy life

Veterinarians vaccinate puppies with combination vaccines at 6 weeks of age, starting the long term of periodic vaccinations. Every 3 weeks, special boosters are usually given until the puppy reaches 16 weeks of age. Using high quality vaccines and an aggressive vaccination protocol, it is possible to shorten the susceptibility window, but it won’t be right to generalize to all puppies. Despite being vaccinated, some puppies (when vaccinated in a litter altogether) still remain vulnerable to diseases. This is why every puppy before being vaccinated undergoes a test to determine the exact time when its immune system will be responding.


Now it’s the time to speak exactly about what your puppy may be exposed to if NOT vaccinated.

The AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agent’s Report on vaccines recommends the following gradation:

  • Core vaccines: used against distemper, canine adenovirus-2 that causes respiratory disease and hepatitis, parvovirus (CPV2) and rabies (more about Avma.org).
  • Non-core vaccines: used against coronavirus, leptospirosis, bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza that cause “kennel cough”, Lyme disease (provoked by borrelia burgdorferi).

These vaccines are used in different combinations according to the schedule that the veterinarian developed for your puppy!

Puppy vet visiting
Am I OK, doc?

Now let’s look through the recommendations defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association (MLV in the following list stands for “modified live vaccine”):

  • Distemper: core vaccine, high efficacy, length of immunity is 1 year with low risk of adverse effects.
  • Parvovirus (MLV): core vaccine, high efficacy, length of immunity is 1 year with low risk of adverse effects.
  • Canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2): core vaccine, high efficacy, length of immunity is 1 years with low risk of adverse effects. Only CAV-2 vaccines must be used, but not CAV-1. This vaccine is also effective against respiratory disease.
  • Rabies: core vaccine, high efficacy, length of immunity depends upon type of vaccine, with low to moderate risk of adverse effects.
  • Parainfluenza: non-core vaccine, low efficacy (injectable)/moderate efficacy (intranasal MLV), length of immunity is moderate with low risk of adverse effects. Recommended for use on dogs in kennels, shows, and shelters – those exposed to large numbers of other dogs.
  • Bordetella: non-core vaccine, low efficacy (injectable)/moderate efficacy (intranasal MLV), length of immunity is short with low risk of adverse effects. Vaccination is performed before exposure to large numbers of dogs.
  • Leptospirosis: non-core vaccine, variable efficacy, short length of immunity with high risk of adverse effects. 3 dogs out of 10 do not respond to the vaccine.
  • Lyme: non-core vaccine, efficacy is limited to previously unexposed dogs only, length of immunity is 1 year with moderate risk of adverse effects. Vaccinating is done once every year prior to tick season.
  • Coronavirus: non-core vaccine, low efficacy, unknown length of immunity with low risk of adverse effects. Not recommended!
  • Giardia: non-core vaccine, low efficacy, unknown length of immunity with low risk of adverse effects. May reduce the risk of transmission to others only – does not prevent infection (see also Aaha.org).

Typical Vaccination Schedule

Health pf pup
Come up and let’s go to vet

Now let’s get acquainted with a vaccination schedule for an average dog. Raw facts, supported by the AVMA and the AAHA are:

  • 5 weeks: vaccination against parvo (CPV2) of puppies with high risk of exposure to parvo. Check with your veterinarian before vaccinating (more about Parvo in puppies).
  • 6 and 9 weeks: combination vaccine without leptospirosis. Otherwise known as the “5-way vaccine”, this unique mix works best against distemper, parvo, parainfluenza, hepatitis and adenovirus cough.
  • 12 weeks +: according to local law, your puppy must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • 12 and 15 weeks: combination vaccine including leptospirosis and anti-Lyme agent. The latters are used when traveling to an area where these diseases occur only. Also, some puppies may need additional vaccinations against parvo. Consult with your veterinarian.
  • A puppy at the age of 12 + weeks or an adult dog: combination vaccine including agents against Lyme, rabies and leptospirosis. According to the AVMA and the AAHA, puppies and adult dogs with low risk of contact with infected areas do not need yearly boostering against diseases.
  • For complete canine cough protection (against parainfluenza and bordetella) you may get your puppy vaccinated with Nobivac Intra-Trac3 ADT, especially if you aim at dog shows where many other dogs will be present.


There is a myth circulating around vaccination theme stating that, small breeds need a smaller vaccine dose than larger breeds. It is not true, as all puppies regardless of their breed, age and weight are given the same dose. A lesser amount of vaccine means lesser immune response, which results in insufficient immunity.


Vaccines do not work immediately after administration. The immune system will spend some time in order to recognize the antigens, respond to them and remember them. 14 days after the initial administration, the whole protection process is finished – the immunity is altered to respond to future possible infections. Sometimes, additional vaccination is prescribed in order to achieve protection.

Proper Vaccination: 8 Simple Steps to Consider

Proper vaccination may appear to be some serious science. However, it is so for the vet personnel only. As for puppy owners, all this vaccination things shrinks into 8 simple steps:

  1. Puppy can be vaccinated when being completely healthy. Until the sick puppy is completely recovered from illness, it is strictly forbidden to vaccinate it.
  2. Puppy doesn’t need vaccination against all diseases existing. Only veterinarian can tell exactly, the appropriate vaccines.
  3. Smaller breeds are more likely to have unnecessary reactions to vaccines. This is why such breeds as Chihuahua, Toy Poodles, and Shih Tzu for instance, need fewer vaccines or may be attributed lesser doses.
  4. If a puppy shows severe reaction to vaccine, he is likely to never be vaccinated again or at least with the same vaccine.
  5. Thuja and Lymphomyosot or other similar homeopathic remedies may be prescribed in order to reduce the possible reaction to vaccine.
  6. Antioxidants influence the immune response positively. They may be used only after your veterinarian prescribes them!
  7. One or two vaccines can be given per visit. The full immunization is done within several weeks not immediately.
  8. Overvaccination is a real problem. But should you perform the vaccine antibody titer test as you will learn to know for sure, whether your dog really needs  additional vaccines.

    Puppy first vaccine
    Be brave, honey!

If your puppy has undergone all necessary vaccinations and is already an adult dog, the test mentioned in the last step above may save you much time, and funds, as the possible overuse of vaccines is the point of heavy discussion in the vet community.


In this article, we are not trying to occupy one side only and say that this way is right and that way is wrong. We are presenting you vital information and it is up to the readers to make firm decision to act according to own judgments and experience. This is why before we speak about cost of vaccination. However, we are going to reveal the dark side of the vaccination.

Combo-Shots or Combo-Over-Vaccination?

A vaccine against rabies contains a single virus, while combination vaccines contain several viruses and various bacteria. When your vet asks you to come for an update on shots, think about the necessity of it.

Probably, you have already seen vet bills with mysterious “DHLPP”, “DA2LPPC” or “5/6/7-way”s. These combo vaccines are the part of job that vets may be ordered to do despite their attitude towards them. In 2007, World Small Animal Veterinary Association Vaccine Guidelines reports said that there is “gross under-reporting of vaccine-associated adverse events which impedes knowledge of the ongoing safety of these products”. Your vet may not be reading veterinary journals and won’t know that shots may not be safe as well as their quantity may threaten life of animal instead of saving it.

Why avoid combination shots?

Reception at the vet
So scary, but I have to.

Some vaccines can work years to come, even a lifetime, while mainly combination shots grant immunity for a year or even less and you know what – combo ingredients are packed together. Think of it as of a package of ice cream with beef jerky. Nice! Right? Math here works simply: to keep the immunity strong with short-duration vaccines, the long-duration ones must be given again and again. Thus, you expose your dog for no reason to a bunch of adverse reactions including allergies and skin diseases, the least of the possible problems. Vets who switched to giving vaccines once per 3 years don’t use short-duration vaccines often enough. It means that either they are putting your dog at risk due to total negligence or they don’t believe at all that short-duration vaccines are necessary (which is true).

Remember, we told you to perform vaccinations gradually. Why? Because it takes some time for the immune system to respond correctly by elaborating own defense mechanism against the disease that your dog was vaccinated against. But should you deliver several infectious agents in one shot, the puppy’s immune system will experience sheer onslaught of many agents at the same time. This is how side effects can develop in no time and damage the organism severely.

The author of “Mark of the Beast”, Dr. Patricia Jordan says “mumbo-jumbo” combination shots kill not only “whole bacterins of Leptospirosis” but also, “killed corona virus (the vaccine looking for a disease), lots of adjuvant, mercury, aluminum, antibacterial like gentocin, antifungal and fungi stats, proprietary ingredients of whose true identity makes me shudder to even speculate.”

Vets and puppy
Make me healthy

Catherine J.M. Diodati in her turn wrote in “Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats” “The number of pathogens plus toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that the animals are exposed to all at once generate an enormous toll on the immune system. The results can be devastating.”

What can be concluded from everything written above?

  • No combo shots for dogs!
  • Never give any other shot, especially anti-rabies, within 3 weeks of a combo!
  • No nasal Bordetella! Giving rabies and Bordetella with a combo means like 9 shots given in one day, which some dogs don’t survive…
  • If a dog shows reaction to the combo shot, there is no way to tell which antigen caused the reaction and must be avoided in the future.

Sometimes it’s better not to vaccinate at all than vaccinate with the thing that even the vet can’t tell whether it is safe or not.

What’s Inside the Combo Shot Anyway?

Well, ingredients differ but they are met very often in various vaccines. As vaccines are more called as some sophisticated abbreviations, we’ll tell you what word stands behind every letter:

  • D – distemper and P – parvo. If your dog was vaccinated once after 4 months of age, it is likely to have lifetime immunity. Not bad, huh? These shots are important but they don’t need to be given again and again. Run the titer test and show it to your vet!
  • H for hepatitis which virtually doesn’t exist in North America. Otherwise H can be expressed as adenovirus 2. According to the AAHA, it gives a 7-year-long immunity. A renowned expert Dr. Ron Schultz suggests vaccinating with adenovirus 2 once after the dog is 16 weeks old.
  • L or leptospirosis. A non-core shot that should be given in special case and not even to every dog. Many vets don’t recommend vaccinating small dogs with lepto because, they simply don’t need it. The only reason for vaccination to take place is, if you are travelling with your dog to the infected area.

    Scary puppy
    I wanna home, mooom!
  • P is for parainfluenza. Works 3 years at least, another non-core shot that actually doesn’t protect against the canine flu.
  • C for coronavirus. Not recommended. Diodati says that the reaction from it may overpower the danger of the disease itself!

What else? Oh yeah – the alternatives… If the combination is not a way out, then take on an alternative!

Alternatives to Combos

You may avoid combination shots if you are decisive enough to say no to your vet offering them. Here are what you can do instead:

  • Perform titer tests for parvo and distemper. If the titer is strong, no revaccination is needed! Unless your puppy has a proven urgent need, no revaccination must be performed.
  • If your vet says that “one size fits all” when speaking about vaccination protocol, it’s better to avoid him. All vet schools and organizations recommend doing otherwise.
  • When vaccinating a puppy or a young dog with low antibody titers, ask the vet to administer a vaccine containing only one antigen (simply say “please, use the monovalent, doc!”). There are 3 readily available vaccines: Galaxy Pv with parvo working incredible 7 years, Galaxy D with distemper lasting 5 years and Intervet Progard Puppy DPV coming with both parvo and distemper only.

    Puppy vaccination shot
    I can do it!
  • If your vet says no to monovalent vaccine, find another or bring your own. Store in fridge before bringing it to the clinic.
  • The last resort – find a holistic vet who knows exactly how to vaccinate. They are rare but are true professionals going after result, not lucrative goals.

Now that we have provided you with enough mental pabulum, let’s speak briefly about the cost.

The Cost of Vaccination

The initial shot for parvo and distemper costs 15-30 dollars per round with 3-4 rounds required starting at 6-8 weeks of age. The total cost may be somewhere between 60 and 120 dollars. Rabies shots are given annually at typical cost of 15-35$. Shots for bordetella are usually given twice resulting in 2x$20 – 40 dollars per two shots, in average. Don’t forget about the office visit fee which is somewhere between $30 and $60 depending on the physician. If you are lucky enough you may find a low-cost clinic that won’t charge you any fee for an office visit or you may purchase a package of several rounds at Vetco which is part of PetCo locations (more about Vetcoclinics.com).

The above mentioned costs are average. If you want to know the exact cost of every shot, contact your local veterinary clinic.