You want your pet to be as healthy as possible and remain that way throughout their lives. Part of basic health care for your dog or puppy is getting their vaccinations. Many new owners want to know the costs ahead of time to plan and budget accordingly. The cost will vary depending on whether you have an adult dog or a puppy, as well as by your location.
Why do puppies and dogs need vaccinations?
Vaccinations are given to prevent your pet from contracting contagious diseases. Some areas will give vaccinations for specific diseases that are prevalent or that your pup is at high risk for. There are a core set of vaccinations, however, that are given to puppies beginning at six to eight weeks of age.
Puppies are particularly susceptible to diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis. They are immunized against these illnesses through a series of vaccinations given in their first three months of life. Additionally, rabies is a core vaccination that all dogs need to get by law.
Regardless of whether you are adopting a puppy or an adult dog, consult with your veterinarian to find out what vaccinations your pet needs and the schedule that’s appropriate. If you’re unsure of the animal’s previous vaccination history, your vet may advise that you give a series of booster shots to make sure they are up to date.
If you live in an area that is prone to ticks, we recommend asking your veterinarian for medication/vaccinations to prevent tick-borne diseases. They can give you the information you need for any illnesses present in your region or state.
What vaccinations are included in the puppy schedule?
Some vaccinations in the puppy schedule are only recommended, such as Lyme disease, while others, like rabies vaccinations, are required by law.
The guide below gives you a general list of core vaccinations, as well as non-core, recommended ones. For specific recommendations for your dog, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian as the law might change in your state, but this will give you a general idea of what to expect.
|Dog’s age||Core vaccinations||Recommended vaccinations|
|Leptospirosis (required in California)|
|Leptospirosis (California only)|
|Dogs over 16 weeks with unknown vaccination history||Core puppy shots listed above are given 2x, four weeks apart|
|26–52 weeks||Booster shots||Lyme disease|
|Every six months||Bordatella (Kennel cough)|
|Every three years||Revaccination||Influenza|
It’s important to note that the age and frequency of rabies vaccinations and boosters varies by state. Most give this vaccination every three years but check with your veterinarian to confirm the requirements in your location.
How much do dog and puppy vaccinations cost?
The specific price of your pet’s vaccinations will depend on whether you choose to give both core and non-core vaccines, as well as if you require any additional vaccinations for locations your dog will be traveling to.
If you are adopting your pet from a shelter or rescue organization, there are usually some vaccinations included in your adoption fee. Particularly for young puppies, they are often not adopted to families until they have had a full vet check and their first vaccinations in order to ensure a healthy start.
Below is an estimated average cost you can expect for your dog or puppy’s vaccinations:
The cost of these vaccinations does add up, but you can potentially save your dog from much more expensive health issues down the line.
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Guidelines for vaccinating your dog or puppy
While the benefits of vaccinating your dog outweigh the risks, the risk factors should be assessed for each individual animal. This risk assessment should be undertaken with your veterinarian.
Vaccination risks are a hot topic, and it is not a legal requirement in most places to get your pet vaccinated, with the exception of rabies vaccinations. However, most studies show compelling reasons to get your dog vaccinated regularly.
Pros of vaccinating your dog
The biggest argument for vaccination your dog or puppy is the prevention of life-threatening illnesses. While most pet owners today have never experienced a pet who has contracted parvovirus or distemper, these illnesses are devastating. They not only endanger your dog’s life but can cause extreme suffering.
Young puppies are the perfect targets for viruses and bacteria. They lick, bite, chew on everything, and have a weak defense system against disease because they’re so young. This is why veterinarians place such high importance on puppy vaccinations.
Vaccines, however, are becoming the victims of their success. Many of the diseases dogs are vaccinated against are now virtually non-existent. It’s not likely that your dog will come into contact with a dog with distemper in the dog park because the domestic dog population has herd immunity against it. The majority of dogs are vaccinated, which gives non-vaccinated dogs protection. This is the same concept as the human Poliovirus. The virus has been virtually eradicated due to vaccination, so even unvaccinated individuals are unlikely to contract it.
The concept of herd immunity can give pet owners a false sense of security. Diseases, like canine distemper, for example, still exist in wild animals. The reason you don’t know dogs with distemper is that they’re vaccinated. It does not mean that your unvaccinated pet can’t get sick.
Risks of vaccinating your dog
There is risk involved in almost anything, including vaccinating your dog. Vaccines do have some side effects, most of which are mild and short-lived. Common vaccine reactions include a small lump at the injection site, which disappears spontaneously in about two weeks. This is relatively common as it occurs in about one in 10 dogs.
Uncommon side effects affecting one in 1,000 dogs may include a temporary, self-resolving lack of appetite and energy. One in 10,000 dogs (which means this is considered very rare) may experience an immune or allergic reaction to ingredients in the vaccines
Serious side effects of vaccines are very rare. While they tend to cause a vaccine backlash in the media, it’s important to put it in perspective.
It is a certainty that vaccinations protect your dog from potentially life-threatening diseases. These diseases have a very high mortality rate, and your dog is at risk if he is unvaccinated. The vaccines themselves have a very low risk of causing a serious reaction in your dog.
It’s also important to be aware that allergic reactions are treatable when caught early. For this reason, your veterinarian will often ask you to stay at the clinic for a period of time following vaccine administration so that any reaction can be reversed.
We have given you the average costs of dog and puppy vaccinations to help you include this in your budget for your pet. Vaccinations that are recommended for your pet should be discussed with your veterinarian based on your lifestyle and the laws and region in which you live. Vaccines are an important part of your dog’s health care, as they prevent your dog or puppy from contracting life-threatening illnesses.
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