What Vaccinations Should I Give My New Puppy?

If you’re adding a new puppy to your household, you might be wondering if they’ll need any vaccinations and if so, what they’re for.

Vaccinating your dog is one of the best things you can do to protect them from contagious and potentially dangerous diseases. Puppies have immature immune systems and are more susceptible to diseases. Vaccinating them helps provide immunity to these diseases and safeguards their health during this vulnerable period.

By following the recommended vaccine schedule suggested by your vet, starting from when they’re a puppy, you can feel reassured that your dog is protected, and prevent the spread of contagious illnesses, which in turn supports the health of other dogs.

Core and Non-Core Vaccines

There are several vaccines available for your dog, divided into two categories: core and non-core. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs in Australia. Non-core vaccines are optional vaccinations that may be advised depending on your dog’s risk. Your vet will consider your puppy’s location, lifestyle, and other risk factors – such as whether they go outside, their exposure to other animals and presence of disease in the local area. 

During the vaccination appointment, your vet will also assess your puppy’s overall health. If a puppy is unwell or has a temperature, they should not be vaccinated until they’ve fully recovered.

Vaccination Schedule

Initially, puppies receive protection from diseases thanks to the antibodies found in their mother’s milk. However, it’s important to follow the advised vaccination schedule to strengthen and maintain this defence as it becomes weakened over time. A puppy’s vaccination schedule begins when they’re 6-8 weeks old and isn’t completed until they’re around three or four months old. They’ll also need regular boosters throughout their adult life to support immunity for the long term. 

At 6-8 weeks of age, the three core dog vaccinations are commonly combined into one injection called a C3 vaccine and cover:

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine hepatitis virus
  • Canine parvovirus

Your puppy will need their next vaccinations around four weeks after their first, which is when they’re 12-14 weeks of age. This will include a booster of the three core vaccines and two optional non-core vaccines. These may be administered as a C3 or C5. The Parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccines are considered non-core but are recommended for dogs that will encounter other dogs, whether this be at home, on walks or at the park. There also generally required if you plan on boarding your dog when on holidays. Your veterinarian will be able to advise which vaccinations best suit your puppy’s needs.

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine hepatitis virus
  • Canine parvovirus

Non-core:

  • Parainfluenza virus (canine cough)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (canine cough)

At 14-16 weeks of age, the final set of vaccinations is a booster and may be administered as a C3 or C5 injection. 

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Canine parvovirus

Non-core:

  • Parainfluenza virus (canine cough)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (canine cough)

Don’t Forget Their Boosters

The immunity that a puppy builds up from their early vaccinations will diminish over time, so dogs need regular booster vaccinations throughout their lives to maintain protection. These will cover the same diseases as their previous vaccinations and are usually administered every 12 months, but some vaccinations can be given at longer intervals. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best schedule for your dog. If you decide down the track that you need your dog to receive any of the non-core vaccinations, that can also be arranged with your vet.

Your vet will also always carry out a health check on your dog when they come in for their boosters, as only healthy dogs should be vaccinated. This check-up will include weighing them and a thorough medical examination.

Vaccination After-Care

Your puppy may appear a bit lethargic, have a reduced appetite or experience nasal discharge, sneezing and coughing in the 24-48 hours after receiving their vaccinations. This is normal, so keep them comfortable and this will generally pass in a day or two. If these symptoms continue for more than 48 hours, or you notice other symptoms, such as incoordination, trouble breathing, a puffy face, fainting, vomiting or diarrhoea, contact your vet immediately. 

Vaccinations are an effective way to help keep your dog healthy. Along with high quality nutrition, they’re an important aspect to being a responsible pet parent.