Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish, DVM
If you’re a first-time pet owner, you may be wondering how many DA2PP shots your puppy needs. The whole vaccination schedule can be a bit overwhelming, but your veterinarian can help you sort it out.
Pet owners hear all kinds of opinions on the topic, both good and bad. The reality is that vaccinations protect our beloved pets from serious illness and expensive treatments. If you’re wondering whether to get your puppy vaccinated, the answer is yes. The purpose of puppy vaccines is to protect him or her from viruses and fatal diseases.
Some vaccines are directed by state law, and others depend on your geographical location and risk to the dog. Don’t worry! We explain everything, including how many DA2PP shots your puppy needs, in this post.
It can be a little complicated, which is why we recommend speaking with a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible.
Why do puppies start getting vaccinated so young?
Newborn puppies don’t require vaccinations because they receive immunity from their mother’s milk. These are called maternal antibodies, and they provide enough protection until the puppies are able to start building their own immune system function.
This occurs at 8 weeks for puppies whose mothers had vaccines, 6 weeks for orphaned puppies or for puppies whose mothers aren’t vaccinated. right around the time a puppy begins to wean from the mother. After that, it’s time to start the puppy vaccination protocol.
What is the DA2PP Vaccination?
One of the most important vaccines for your puppy is the DA2PP shot. It’s a combination vaccine that protects against four diseases including distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza virus, and parvovirus.
DA2PP is considered a “core” vaccination, meaning it is highly recommended for all dogs and puppies. The rabies vaccination is required by law, for good reason. There’s no test to detect whether an animal is infected with rabies, and once signs begin to show, it’s too late. Rabies is 100% fatal and can be transmitted to humans as well as other animals. There is no known cure for rabies.
What other vaccinations does my puppy need and when?
The full vaccination schedule for puppies includes core vaccines (required) and non-core vaccines (lifestyle vaccines). Non-core vaccinations are considered optional and vary depending on your geographical location and risk in that area.
Speak with your veterinarian about the best non-core vaccines for your dog.
The following vaccination schedule has been outlined by the American Kennel Club.
|Puppy’s Age||Core Vaccines (Recommended)||Non-Core Vaccines (Optional)|
|6-8 weeks||DA2PP (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza)||Bordetella|
|10-12 weeks||DA2PP Booster||Influenza, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|16- 18 weeks||DA2PP Booster, Rabies||Influenza, Lyme Disease, Leptospirosis, Bordetella|
|12-16 months||DA2PP, Rabies||Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella Lyme Disease|
|Every 1 – 2 years||DA2PP||Influenza, Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease|
|Every 1 – 3 years||Rabies (as required by law)||None|
Another rule of thumb, like the AAHA schedule, is start DAPP at 8 weeks, then repeat every 3-4 weeks until a pet is 16 weeks of age. After that, it’s every 1 to 3 years, depending on which vaccine your vet carries.
What would happen if my dog didn’t get the DA2PP vaccine?
Without the DA2PP vaccination, your dog will be left vulnerable to many infectious diseases. These include the following:
Canine Distemper Virus
This highly contagious disease can be fatal and is preventable through vaccination. Symptoms of distemper include:
- Eye and nose discharge
- Neurological problems (i.e. seizures)
Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Infectious canine hepatitis is a viral disease caused by Canine Adenovirus Type 1 (CAV-1). This highly contagious virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily fluids including saliva, urine, and feces.
Mild symptoms range from a decreased appetite to a mild fever. Puppies are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms which include:
- Edema (fluid swelling),
- Abdominal pain
- Jaundice (in some cases)
In severe cases, this virus can lead to liver and kidney failure or even death. Puppies are very vulnerable because of their immature immune systems and must be vaccinated.
Canine Adenovirus Type 2 (CAV-2)
This virus is closely related to the Canine Adenovirus Type 1. It can cause a range of symptoms in dogs including:
- Nasal Discharge
- Pneumonia (severe cases)
This highly contagious virus affects puppies and young dogs. It can be fatal if left untreated and causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Dehydration can happen very quickly in puppies. Signs of dehydration include:
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Dry nose and gums
- Dry, sticky mucous membranes
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of energy and lethargy
- Lack of appetite
This virus causes respiratory infections in dogs. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, and difficulty breathing.
The rabies vaccine is separate from DA2PP but is considered a core-vaccine required by law. The reason for this is because, as mentioned above, rabies is 100% fatal and can be transmitted to humans and other animals.
Rabies is a highly contagious viral infection that attacks the nervous system. It is transmitted when one animal bites another.
What would happen if my dog didn’t get the non-core vaccines?
Non-core vaccines are not considered essential for dogs, but are highly recommended for some dogs based on their risk factors.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be found in a variety of sources, including contaminated water, contaminated soil, contact with infected animals, and contaminated food. The bacteria that causes the infection, Leptospira, is found in the urine of infected animals.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted to humans. Sadly, it can cause severe illness or death if left untreated.
The Bordetella vaccine protects against the highly contagious respiratory disease known as “kennel cough”. Kennel cough can affect dogs of all ages, especially those that are housed in close quarters, such as in kennels, shelters, boarding facilities, and sometimes groomers.
Transmission occurs via droplets released in the air when a dog sneezes or coughs. It can also be transmitted through direct contact and through contaminated items like toys and food/water bowls.
The vaccine doesn’t strictly prevent kennel cough, but it lessens the severity of the virus should your dog contract the illness. That means your dog is less likely to develop a secondary bacterial infection like pneumonia.
Symptoms of kennel cough include a dry, hacking cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever.
Lyme is a tick-borne disease that can cause severe illness in dogs. In addition to the vaccine, it’s important to maintain regular tick prevention with products like Simparica, Bravecto, and NexGard. There are a variety of products on the market. Some require prescriptions and some do not.
When purchasing tick and flea prevention medication, make sure to read the instructions and any warnings on the label. Some medications, like K9 Advantix II, are toxic to cats and shouldn’t be used on dogs in contact with cats.
How do vaccines work?
The American Veterinary Medical Association describes vaccines as “products designed to trigger protective immune responses and prepare the immune system to fight future infections from disease-causing agents”.
In other words, vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect your dog from a number of potentially life-threatening diseases. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s recommended vaccine schedule. That includes keeping appointments for booster vaccinations in adult dogs.
What are the side effects of vaccines?
Pets commonly have mild side effects after receiving a vaccine. You may notice a small, firm swelling under the skin near the injection site. That should disappear with a couple of weeks. This is a very rare side-effect that can last months, but is generally harmless.
It’s normal for your dog to be a little drowsy or show decreased activity levels for a day or two. Some dogs might experience loss of appetite or even a low-grade fever. Pets who’ve received an intranasal vaccine (up the nose), might have some nasal discharge, sneezing and mild coughing.
If your dog is going to experience a more serious reaction to the vaccine, it’s going to happen within minutes to hours after the vaccination. Collapsing, fainting, difficulty breathing, severe cough, and facial swelling are medical emergencies.
If you have any concerns that your dog may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, it may be a good idea to hang around the clinic for 30 to 60 minutes after the vaccine. Be sure to talk to the veterinarian about your concerns.
Sometimes, injectable Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be given 10 to 15 minutes before a vaccine to help decrease the chances of a reaction. Always call your local ER if your dog has a serious reaction to a vaccine if your regular veterinarian isn’t available.
Hand-Picked Posts For You
Vaccines are important to protect your dog against contagious diseases. They prevent serious and potentially deadly diseases in dogs and puppies. They also help to control the spread of illnesses to other animals and humans.
Vaccines are important for young puppies who haven’t developed a strong immune system yet. Boosters are what maintain your dog’s immunity as he or she ages.
As dog owners, we owe it to our beloved pets to protect them in every way possible. If you haven’t already, take a moment now to book your puppy’s first vaccine appointment.
If you’re interested in reading more about vaccine guidelines, please read the 2022 American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccination Guidelines.
Types of Pet Vaccinations | Veterinarians in Durham, NC. (n.d.). Types of Pet Vaccinations | Veterinarians in Durham, NC. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.nhah.com/types-of-pet-vaccinations
Rabies in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital. (n.d.). Vca. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/rabies-in-dogs
What to expect after your pet’s vaccination. (n.d.). American Veterinary Medical Association. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/what-expect-after-your-pets-vaccination
Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus) in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital. (n.d.). Vca. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hepatitis-adenovirus-infection-in-dogs