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Vaccination Countdown: Your Puppy's First 8 Weeks


Bringing a new puppy into your home is a delightful experience, but it comes with significant responsibilities, including safeguarding your pup's health. One of the key aspects of early puppy care is ensuring they receive the appropriate vaccinations.

In this guide, we will provide you with a detailed overview of puppy vaccinations at the crucial 6-8 weeks stage.

The Importance of Puppy Vaccinations

Puppies are born with undeveloped immune systems, leaving them highly susceptible to infections. That is why vaccinations are an important part of your puppy's healthcare because they offer essential protection against potentially life-threatening diseases.

Vaccines work by stimulating your puppy's immune system to produce antibodies against specific diseases, providing immunity without exposing them to the actual illness.

Vaccination Guidelines in Canada

Canada's vaccination guidelines for dogs and puppies differ from province to province. In the majority of provinces, core vaccinations are advisable for all dogs, regardless of their age or lifestyle. Core vaccinations usually encompass rabies and DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus).

There are also non-core vaccines, like Bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme disease, and leptospirosis, that are also recommended.

To ensure the exact vaccination requirements for your dog, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian.

Common Vaccines for Puppies at 6-8 Weeks

  1. Distemper: Canine distemper is a highly contagious and often fatal viral disease that affects a puppy's respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Distemper vaccinations are typically administered as part of a combination vaccine.

  2. Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus is another severe disease that primarily targets a puppy's gastrointestinal tract, causing severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and dehydration. Timely vaccination is crucial to protect against parvovirus.

  3. Adenovirus (Hepatitis): Adenovirus can lead to liver and kidney damage in puppies. Vaccination against adenovirus is commonly included in combination vaccines.

  4. Parainfluenza: Parainfluenza is a respiratory virus that can result in severe coughing and pneumonia in puppies. It is usually included in combination vaccines.

  5. Bordetella (Kennel Cough): If your puppy will be in close contact with other dogs, such as in a boarding facility or dog park, consider vaccinating against Bordetella. It helps prevent kennel cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease.

  6. Canine Coronavirus: This virus primarily affects the gastrointestinal tract. Some combination vaccines include protection against canine coronavirus.

  7. Rabies: While not typically administered at 6-8 weeks, the rabies vaccine is an important one. Depending on local regulations and your puppy's lifestyle, the vaccination schedule for rabies should be discussed with your veterinarian.

The Vaccination Schedule

Puppies require a series of vaccinations to ensure proper immunity. The initial series typically begins at 6-8 weeks and continues at regular intervals until they are around 16-20 weeks old. Here's a typical vaccination schedule:

6-8 Weeks

The first set of vaccinations, often referred to as "puppy shots," includes distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus, and sometimes parainfluenza.

10-12 Weeks

The second round of shots, which may include the same vaccines as the first round, serves to boost the puppy's immunity.

14-16 Weeks

The final set of puppy shots provides further reinforcement of immunity. This round typically includes the rabies vaccine, which is often required by law.

Annually or as advised by your vet

After the initial puppy shots, dogs should receive booster shots annually or as recommended by your veterinarian. This ongoing vaccination schedule helps maintain their immunity throughout their lives.

When it comes to the health and well-being of your puppy, understanding the cost of vaccinations is an important aspect of responsible pet ownership. The cost of puppy vaccinations in Canada can vary depending on several factors.

To give you an idea, here is the average cost you can expect for puppy and dog vaccinations in different Canadian provinces. Keep in mind that these costs usually cover both the vet's checkup before giving the shots.

Possible Side Effects

Most puppies tolerate vaccinations well, experiencing only mild side effects like slight lethargy, soreness at the injection site, or a temporary decrease in appetite. These side effects are usually short-lived and resolve within a day or two.

However, if you observe severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, swelling, or significant lethargy, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Puppy During Puppyhood

While it's essential to understand the vaccination schedule and options available, it's equally important to grasp the risks associated with not vaccinating your puppy during the critical 6-8 week period.

Here are the potential consequences of delaying or forgoing vaccinations:

  1. Increased Susceptibility to Diseases: Puppies are highly vulnerable to diseases during their first weeks of life due to their immature immune systems. Delaying vaccinations leaves them susceptible to potentially deadly diseases like distemper and parvovirus. These diseases can spread rapidly and have severe consequences for your puppy's health.

  2. Spread of Disease to Other Pets: Unvaccinated puppies can become carriers of contagious diseases, putting not only their health at risk but also the health of other pets in your household or those they come into contact with. Diseases like parvovirus and kennel cough can easily spread to other dogs.

  3. Financial Burden: Treating a puppy with a preventable disease can be financially draining. The cost of veterinary care, medications, hospitalization, and the potential for long-term health issues can be significant. Preventing diseases through timely vaccinations is a more cost-effective approach.

  4. Emotional Distress: Watching your puppy suffer from a preventable disease is emotionally distressing. It can lead to feelings of helplessness and sadness, not to mention the stress and discomfort your puppy will endure.

  5. Quarantine: Some diseases, like rabies, can lead to quarantine orders if your puppy bites or scratches someone. This can be a traumatic experience for both you and your puppy, and it can often be avoided through proper vaccination.

  6. Potential Zoonotic Risk: Some canine diseases, such as rabies, can be transmitted to humans, posing a public health risk. Ensuring your puppy is vaccinated against rabies not only protects them but also reduces the risk of transmission to humans.

  7. Inability to Board or Travel: If you plan to board your puppy, travel with them, or participate in dog-related activities, vaccination requirements may prevent you from doing so if your puppy is not up-to-date on vaccinations.


Ensuring your puppy receives the right vaccinations at the appropriate times is important for their long-term health and well-being. Collaborate closely with your veterinarian to create a personalized vaccination plan tailored to your puppy's specific needs, lifestyle, and local disease prevalence.

By following this guide and working hand in hand with your vet, you'll provide your furry companion with the best start in life, allowing them to grow into a healthy and happy adult dog.

If you are unsure about the vaccination requirements for your puppy or need more guidance on the cost and scheduling, contact us today.

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