From the time that dogs are puppies, they need to be on a strict vaccination schedule to ensure that they are healthy. Having a veterinarian is a must to ensure that a complete record of vaccinations is kept and that all vaccinations are completed within the appropriate time. Although vaccinations help puppies fight toxins and are recommended by most veterinarians, neither vaccinations nor yearly boosters are required. A veterinarian will keep a vaccination record for you and counsel you on a plan for your puppy.
Contact several veterinarians in your area and interview them about their practices and procedures. Also consider payment options and prices for services. Choose a veterinarian for your new puppy that you agree with on office procedure, pricing and services. Ask the veterinarian what types of vaccinations they give to puppies. The American Animal Hospital Association has guidelines that indicate core and non-core shots. Some veterinarians may give all, some may only give the core shots, while others may require you to agree to all in order to place your puppy in their care. These guidelines vary between veterinarians --- choose one with whose policies you agree.
Take your puppy to the veterinarian at about 8 weeks of age to start vaccinations. The first shot will most likely be a combination of distemper and influenza. This shot is a combination shot because young puppies do not always handle the distemper vaccine well on its own due to maternal antibodies that neutralise the distemper antigen. The vet will also vaccinate for canine parvovirus during this first set and will continue to do so every three to four weeks until the puppy is approximately 16 weeks old.
Take your puppy to the veterinarian at about 12 weeks for a second round of vaccinations, including a DHPP shot. The DHPP is a combination of four vaccines in one shot: distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus. The veterinarian will also vaccinate your puppy for kennel cough at this visit.
Complete your puppy's vaccinations at the 16-week visit by having the veterinarian administer the final round of canine parvovirus and a rabies shot. Each one of these vaccines will be re-administered on a three year interval after the initial round of puppy vaccinations.