We are reader supported, we earn a small commission when you buy something using our retail links.

Dog Vaccine Guide: Common Dog Vaccinations

At A Glance

Taking care of your dog requires taking into account their good health and well-being. There are many dog vaccines available in today's times.

Go through this article to familiarize yourself with all the core and non-core vaccinations for your dog.

Last Updated on: Mar 10, 2022

When you bring home that cute little canine for the first time, you instantly know that it relies on you for practically everything. You must care for your canine companion. It needs the best nutrition, training, exercise, attention, and perfect veterinary care. A dog vaccine guide is crucial to understand your dog’s healthcare needs.

Good veterinary care includes vaccinations your dog will get during its first year. Therefore, go through this dog vaccine guideline to answer the frequently asked question “what vaccines do dogs need”.

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

Core Vaccinations

Some vaccinations are essential for your dog. They are marked as vital based on the intensity of the disease, risk of being affected, and the risk of transmitting that disease to other dogs or animals. You can also take a look at the benefits of vaccination to better understand why vaccines are essential for dogs.

Here is a list of core vaccines for dogs that will help avoid the following diseases.


What Is It?

This is one of the most severe and highly transmittable diseases that attacks the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems of dogs, skunks, raccoons, and various other animals.

Distemper is an airborne disease and can be transmitted through the cough or sneeze of an infected dog or animal. It can also be transmitted by sharing water bowls or food, and other similar items.


The primary symptoms of Distemper include fever, coughing, discharge from the nose and eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, paralysis, and twitching. In severe cases, it can lead to death.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for this disease. Most treatments consist of intense efforts of preventing other infections like controlling symptoms of seizures, vomiting, and other such symptoms.

If the dog fights off the symptoms, then it is desired that its immune system will fight off the entire disease.

Dog Vaccine Guide - Hepatitis


What Is It?

In this dog vaccine list, Hepatitis is deemed highly important because of how contagious the infection is. Hepatitis attacks the kidneys, livers, spleen, eyes, and lungs of the dog. Interestingly, this liver disease is caused by a virus that is completely unrelated to the human variant of the infection.


Common symptoms of this infection are congestion in mucous membranes, fevers, vomiting, bloated stomachs, pain in and around the liver, and jaundice.


Fortunately, most dogs can fight off mild Hepatitis. However, severe Hepatitis is known to be fatal. Again, there is no cure for this infection, but doctors work and cure the symptoms.


What Is It?

If you have searched “which dog vaccines are absolutely necessary” online, then you must have come across the vaccine for Parvovirus. This disease, also known as Parvo, is extremely contagious and plagues all dogs. However, the virus affects puppies under four months and unvaccinated dogs more.


Parvovirus damages the gastrointestinal system. Other common symptoms are vomiting, fever, bloody diarrhea, and a loss of appetite. Another prominent symptom is dehydration. This symptom can be contracted fast and can prove to be fatal within 48-72 hours. Therefore, immediate veterinary attention is crucial.


Unfortunately, there is no direct cure for this disease either. Therefore, you must keep your dog hydrated, and treating the secondary symptoms can help beat the illness entirely.


What Is It?

In any dog vaccinations list, a vaccine for Rabies is highly recommended. Most states have made it mandatory for dogs to have a rabies vaccination. It is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. It is transmitted when an infected animal bites a non-infected one.


Common symptoms of rabies are anxiety, hallucinations, headaches, profuse drooling, paralysis, phobia of water, and ultimately death. This disease is most commonly transmitted through a rabid mammal.


If your dog is showing signs of rabies, then treatment within a few hours is highly important. Otherwise, there is a high chance of fatality.

Non-Core Vaccinations

There are a few vaccines that are not deemed essential. Here is the list of non-core vaccinations.


What Is It?

Bordetella is a bacterium that attacks the respiratory system in dogs. It is also known as Kennel cough and is one of the factors of the “canine infectious respiratory complex”.

Bordetella is an easily transmittable disease and your dog can contract it by coming in contact with other dogs. For example, at the groomers, dog park, or daycares for dogs.


The most common symptoms of Bordetella are nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, congestion, etc. If you think your dog is showing any of these symptoms, then you need to isolate your pet and take it to the vet immediately.


Fortunately, there are Bordetella vaccines available that can lessen the intensity of the infection and sometimes even prevent it entirely. Also, Bordetella vaccines aren’t considered to be core vaccines. Your vet can help you decide if this vaccine is necessary for your dog.

Dog Vaccine Guide - Coronavirus


What Is It?

Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is entirely different from the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. COVID-19 is not considered to be a threat to dogs. And there is no evidence yet that proves it harms dogs.

CCoV, on the other hand, is a short-lived virus that attacks the dog’s gastrointestinal system. It is mostly transmitted through oral contact by infected feces.

A dog can also get CCoV from eating out of infected food bowls or by contact with an infected dog.


Most cases of canine coronavirus are “sub-clinical” and produce little signs of symptoms in dogs. However, a prominent sign of coronavirus in dogs is diarrhea. It is mostly accompanied by a loss of appetite and lethargy. Sometimes your dog’s excrement can contain blood or mucus. There is also a possibility of your dog contracting CCoV and Parvovirus at the same time. This leads to an increase in the severity of the infection.


Unfortunately, there is no treatment for canine coronavirus. Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, but they are useful to control secondary bacterial infections. The most common treatment given to dogs is reducing the amount of food for a day after diarrhea. After which the dog is gradually reintroduced to normal quantities of food.

Catching canine coronavirus early is the key to treating the infection successfully.


What Is It?

Leptospira or Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Leptospira bacteria. This bacteria can be found all over the globe in water and soil. Leptospirosis is called a zoonotic disease. This is because it can be spread from animals to humans. This disease is prominent in areas with warm climates and high levels of rainfall.


Unlike the other diseases mentioned in this list, some cases of Leptospira in dogs show no symptoms. However, the most common ones are vomiting, fever, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, jaundice, muscle pain, kidney failure, infertility, and extreme weakness.


Fortunately, there are treatments available to cure this disease. The most common treatment is supportive care and antibiotics. If treated early, curing the disease becomes easier. However, there is a risk of permanent liver or kidney damage.

There are vaccines available for Leptospira that protect dogs from this infection for at least 12 months. Therefore, annual vaccinations are recommended for dogs that are at risk of this infection.

Dog Vaccine Guide - Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease

What Is It?

Lyme Disease or borreliosis is a tick-borne and infectious disease that is caused by a spirochete, a kind of bacteria. Lyme disease is most often caused by ticks and is one of the most popular diseases transmitted by these insects.

According to popular belief, Lyme Disease is considered to be a “summertime” threat. However, that is not true. The infection can be caused during any month.


A dog infected with Lyme Disease can show a variety of symptoms. Some of which are swelling, fever, swollen joints, decreased appetite, kidney issues, depression, and lethargy.

Some dogs may not show any signs of symptoms weeks after being infected. Moreover, a lot of dogs that have been infected don’t show any signs of illness.


One of the most common treatments for Lyme Disease is a dose of antibiotics for close to 30 days. They are extremely helpful and are known to fight off the illness. However, a relapse can occur after a few months or years. In cases of severe infection, prolonged medication may be necessary.


What Is It?

Parainfluenza is an extremely contagious lung infection that is said to be a component in the contagious kennel cough or tracheobronchitis. Parainfluenza often presents itself in dogs that come in contact with other infected dogs, their beds, or bowls. Sneezing and coughing are also transmitters of this infection.

The most common breeding grounds for this infection are at shelters, pet shops, kennels, daycares, breeders, and dog shows.


The most common symptoms of parainfluenza are fever, dry cough, runny rose, lethargy, depression, decreased appetite, inflammation around the eye, and sneezing.


Hospitalization is usually not recommended for dogs suffering from this infection unless they are severe. The most common treatment given by vets is some nursing care, healthy nutrition, and improved hygiene.

Fortunately, most canine respiratory contagious infections, like the Parainfluenza virus, run their courses within two weeks. And that is the case with most viruses. However, if the infection is severe, then immediate medical attention is a necessity.

Letters Found in Combination Vaccinations

Have you ever found yourself searching “what is DHPP dog vaccine” on the Internet? The DHPP or “Distemper shot” is a combination vaccine and probably the most important vaccine in this dog vaccine guide that protects your dog from several diseases.

DHPP is an acronym for these diseases, the full form for which is Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvovirus. This is an essential vaccine for your dog. Another essential vaccine that is not included in the Distemper shot is the rabies vaccine.

Then there is DHLPP. It is the same as DHPP except that it also includes the vaccine for Leptospirosis.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the rabies virus is fatal. Therefore, it is crucial to get your dog vaccinated for it as well.

How Does the DHPP Vaccine Work?

The Distemper shot has concentrated components of the modified distemper virus, Parvovirus, CAV-2, and Parainfluenza virus. The viruses have been modified to not trigger the actual infection. Rather, they create an immune response.

After your dog or puppy is vaccinated with these viruses, the immune system of your dog gradually recognizes these infections. This readies its immune system to fight off these viruses if they enter the dog through organic infections.

How Often Does My Dog Need DHLPP/DHPP Vaccine?

Dogs should preferably receive the Distemper shot as puppies. The DHPP vaccine is initially administered during the very first visit to the vet.

The puppies’ minimum age requirement to get it is 6 weeks. The vaccine is then repeated every 3-4 weeks till the puppy is 16-20 weeks old. However, the time limit can fluctuate depending on the breed and risk of the infection to the dog.

Your puppy must receive the entire dose of the vaccine. You don’t want to stop the dose too early as this increases the risk of infection for your dog. After completing the entire duration of the “puppy shots”, your pup is protected from these viruses for an entire year.

After which a DHPP booster will be given a year after the last vaccine shot. Following the “one-year booster”, your dog will receive booster vaccinations every three years.

Therefore, you must keep the puppy vaccination record card pdf handy so that your vet knows where your pup has reached in its dog vaccine schedule.

Yes, this may seem like a lot of work at first. But these vaccines will ensure that your dog lives a long, lavish, and safe life. The first year of the dog’s life is an exciting, fun, and critical year for you and your dog.

This is where you lay the foundation of your relationship with them and their good health. Therefore, go through this dog vaccine guide and familiarize yourself with these essential vaccines for your canine companion!


Health dog health dog vaccinations dog vaccine guide

Previous Article

Dog Bleeding From The Nose: Should You Be Worried?


Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.