Core Vaccines That Your Puppy Needs

Ensuring your puppy receives the appropriate vaccinations is crucial for their health and well-being. Core vaccines are essential as they protect against highly contagious and potentially deadly diseases. Here are the core vaccines that every puppy needs:

1. Distemper

Canine distemper is a serious viral illness that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, distemper can cause seizures and paralysis. The distemper vaccine is typically administered as part of a combination vaccine known as DHPP or DAPP, which also includes protection against other core diseases.

2. Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is an extremely contagious virus that affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs. Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), loss of appetite, and dehydration. Parvovirus is especially dangerous for puppies and can be fatal without prompt treatment. The parvovirus vaccine is included in the DHPP or DAPP combination vaccine.

3. Adenovirus (Canine Hepatitis)

Canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) causes infectious canine hepatitis, a severe liver infection. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and jaundice. The adenovirus vaccine also protects against canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), which causes respiratory illness. This vaccine is included in the DHPP or DAPP combination vaccine.

4. Parainfluenza

Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV) is one of the causes of kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. While parainfluenza is typically not life-threatening, it can lead to more severe complications, especially in puppies and older dogs. The parainfluenza vaccine is often included in the DHPP or DAPP combination vaccine.

5. Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that affects the nervous system of mammals, including humans. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Symptoms include fever, behavioral changes, paralysis, and death. Rabies vaccination is not only essential for your puppy’s health but is also required by law in many areas. The first rabies vaccine is usually given at around 12 to 16 weeks of age, with a booster one year later and then every one to three years, depending on local regulations and the type of vaccine used.

Vaccination Schedule

Puppies typically start their vaccination series at six to eight weeks of age, with boosters every three to four weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. The standard schedule usually includes:

  • 6-8 weeks: First DHPP/DAPP vaccine
  • 10-12 weeks: Second DHPP/DAPP vaccine
  • 14-16 weeks: Third DHPP/DAPP vaccine and first rabies vaccine
  • 1 year: Booster shots for DHPP/DAPP and rabies

Importance of Vaccination

Vaccinations are crucial for preventing deadly diseases and protecting your puppy’s health. Core vaccines provide immunity against diseases that are widespread and have severe health implications. Ensuring your puppy receives these vaccines on schedule is a responsible and essential part of pet ownership.


Core vaccines are vital for your puppy’s health and longevity. Distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and rabies vaccines form the foundation of a strong immunization program. By adhering to the recommended vaccination schedule and consulting with your veterinarian, you can ensure your puppy is well-protected against these serious diseases. Early vaccination not only safeguards your puppy but also contributes to the overall health of the canine community. Remember, a vaccinated puppy is a healthy and happy puppy.

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