The First Few Puppy Vaccines

“I just got a new puppy! When does she need to come in for her 1st set of vaccines, and what does she need to be vaccinated against?”

Puppies should receive 3 sets of vaccines during the first 4 months of their life, ideally starting at 8 weeks of age. During the first 4 months, a puppy typically receives a DAP, Rabies, Bordetella and/or Lyme vaccination.

Her 1st vaccine – DAP or DA2P (also referred to as a “distemper combo” or “core vaccine”), typically contains a combination of Distemper, Parvovirus, and Adenovirus.

Canine Distemper is a highly contagious, hard to treat disease which can often be fatal. It is spread by discharges from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, fever, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting and convulsions. Distemper can also attack the nervous system, leaving behind permanent damage in fully recovered dogs.

Parvovirus is extremely debilitating, widespread and very contagious among puppies. Mostly affecting the very young or immune compromised, parvovirus is spread through infected feces and can remain in the environment for many years. This disease also comes with a high fatality rate and treatment can be long and difficult. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, vomiting and severe diarrhea.

Adenovirus or Canine Hepatitis is spread through saliva, infected urine or feces. Symptoms are similar to distemper and this disease causes liver failure and damage to the eyes.

This vaccine is not administered before 7 to 8 weeks of age due to the natural antibodies your pup received from her mother at birth. If given too early, those antibodies will fight off the vaccine rendering it useless. Your puppy’s natural immunity begins to diminish between 6 to 12 weeks of age. We suggest a series of 3 DAP vaccines to be administered by your veterinarian at 8 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Your puppy will require a DAP booster 1 year later when she is around 16 months of age and then every 3 years after that but re-vaccination will vary depending on her age, lifestyle and risk of exposure.


Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital