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Health & Care


Why Vaccinate My Puppy?

Because vaccinations are so important to a dog's long-term health and well being. They protect your puppy from contracting deadly and debilitating diseases.

Puppies do get some protection against diseases from their mother, but this only lasts a very short time. Vaccinations help your puppy develop his or her own immunity to disease.

What Diseases Should My Puppy Be Vaccinated Against?

  • The severe and life-threatening core diseases that all dogs should be vaccinated against are:
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Canine infectious hepatitis
  • Canine distemper
  • Rabies

Depending on your puppy's environment and lifestyle, your veterinarian might also recommend vaccinations for other diseases, such as canine cough, which is caused primarily by canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.

How Do Puppies Get These Diseases?

Through contact with other dogs and from environments where other dogs have visited. That's why it's so important that your puppy is protected early, before you ever take them to the park.

How Early Should I Vaccinate My Puppy?

Your puppy will need a course of vaccinations: Your veterinarian will talk to you and together you will decide on the most appropriate vaccination protocol for your puppy. In general your puppy will have the first vaccination at 6-8 weeks of age. Your puppy will then have another 1 or 2 vaccinations finishing anywhere between 10-12 weeks of age and 16 weeks of age.

Once your puppy has finished this “puppy course” of vaccinations, your puppy is regarded as fully vaccinated. Wait about 7 days following the last vaccination before taking your puppy out to the park.

Following these puppy vaccines, your puppy may need boosters at intervals determined by your veterinarian.

Remember, even if your puppy was already vaccinated when you brought him or her home, they may still need more shots. Your veterinarians should be able to advise you on this.

How Are Vaccines Administered?

Vaccinations may be administered to your puppy as:

  • an injection under the skin
  • liquid into their nostrils

What Are The Side Effects Of Vaccinations?

Vaccinations are fairly straightforward and side effects are not common. If your puppy does experience anything, it will usually be mild and short lived:

  • pain when the vaccine is administered
  • pain and or lump formation at the site of injection
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy.

Very rarely, more serious side effects may occur including allergic and/or anaphylactic reactions. This could present as severe vomiting or facial swelling. If you suspect your dog is having a reaction please contact your veterinarian right away.

Additional Information

To download a fact sheet about your dog’s health check, click here.

More information on vaccination can be found here:

American Animal Hospital Association

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association

Merck Veterinary Manual


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