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How Much Do Dog & Puppy Vaccinations Cost? (2023 Price Guide)

veterinarian vaccinating German Shepherd dog

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.

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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 rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis. They are immunized against these illnesses through a series of vaccinations given in their first three months of life.

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.

golden retriever dog with puppies
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

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 required vaccinations, as well as non-core, recommended ones. For specific recommendations for your dog, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian, but this will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Dog’s age Core vaccinations Recommended vaccinations
6–8 weeks Parvovirus
Adenovirus/Hepatitis
Distemper
10–12 weeks Parvovirus Distemper/measles combination
Adenovirus/Hepatitis Giardia
Distemper
Rabies
Leptospirosis (required in California)
12–16 weeks Parvovirus
Adenovirus/Hepatitis
Distemper
Leptospirosis (California only)
Dogs over 16 weeks with unknown vaccination history Core puppy shots listed above are given 2x, four weeks apart
Rabies
26–52 weeks Booster shots Lyme disease
Rabies
Every six months Bordatella (Kennel cough)
Parainfluenza
Every three years Revaccination Influenza
Rabies

It’s important to note that the frequency of rabies vaccinations varies by state. Most give this vaccination every three years but check with your veterinarian to confirm the requirements in your location.

dog vaccination
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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:

  • Routine vaccinations: 1st year – $100–$350, Annual cost – $80–$250
  • Heartworm prevention: $24–$132 annually
  • Flea and tick prevention: $40–$200 annually
  • Distemper vaccination: 1st year – $20–$30, Annual cost – $40–$60
  • Rabies vaccination: 1st year – $15–$25
  • Deworming: 1st year – $20–$50, Annual cost: $80–$200

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.

dog at vet_ESB Professional, Shutterstock
Image Credit: ESB Professional, Shutterstock

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 occurs in about one in 10 dogs.

Rare side effects affecting one in 1,000 dogs include a temporary, self-resolving lack of appetite and energy.

One in 10,000 dogs may experience an immune or allergic reaction to ingredients in the vaccines.

dog and vet._LightField Studios_Shutterstock
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Risk Assessment

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.

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Summary

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 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.


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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