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Pet Deworming and Vaccine Schedule for Dogs

Large dog sitting on a front porch with dog toys and food bowl.

Here are some general guidelines for vaccinating and deworming your new puppy or dog.

Vaccine and Deworming Schedule for Puppies up to 16 Weeks Old

When Your Puppy is 8 Weeks Old

At the age of 8 weeks, your puppy should get its first distemper / parvo combination vaccine, or 5-in-1 vaccine. It is also time to give the puppy the first dewormer to eliminate intestinal parasites such as roundworm or hookworm. Tractor Supply Co. carries a wide selection of pet meds for pet owners who are comfortable administering vaccines using needles without the help of a veterinarian. If you are unsure how to administer a vaccine, consult with your veterinarian.

When your Puppy is 12 Weeks Old

12-week-old puppies that have had their first distemper / parvo vaccination usually need a booster vaccine for the same thing. It is usually a good idea to administer booster parvo vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Depending on the dog breed and risk factors, your puppy could need a vaccine for bordatella, or kennel cough. Similarly, it is a good idea to administer a follow-up dewormer to kill parasite-carrying fleas, roundworms, brown ticks, or skin mites your dog may have ingested.

When your Puppy is 16 Weeks Old

Administer the third distemper / parvo vaccine and the second bordatella vaccine (if needed). At 16 weeks, your puppy is old enough to also have its first 1-year rabies vaccine. In addition, it is a good idea to examine your puppy's feces for intestinal parasites to make sure a third-round dewormer is not needed.

Why Do Puppies Need Distemper / Parvo Vaccines?

Parvo is a gastrointestinal virus that attacks the small intestines. The parvo virus is spread through infected dog feces or via particles of feces carried by people's shoes or hands. If left untreated, the puppy will no longer be able to absorb nutrients or water due to the intestinal scarring that is caused by the virus. Puppies can die from dehydration and malnutrition as a result of parvo.

Symptoms of parvo include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or fever.

Why do Puppies Need Deworming?

Intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and whipworms are common among young puppies and kittens. All puppies should be given a dewormer for easily-prevented illness caused by these parasites. Read more about how to prevent parasites in your dog or cat here.

Why do Puppies Need a Bordatella Vaccine?

Bordatella, or infectious tracheobronchitis, is commonly called "kennel cough" in dogs because it spreads so easily in a kennel environment when dogs are living in close proximity to one another. However, a dog or puppy does not need to live in a kennel to contract kennel cough and only needs to be exposed to another dog with the infection. It is recommended that all dogs get vaccinated for kennel cough as a puppy and then once per year each year. If you are planning to board your dog or place your dog in a kennel, it is recommended that you get a booster vaccine every 6 months.

Why do Puppies Need a Rabies Vaccine?

When you think of rabies, you may think of wild animals such as opossums or raccoons; however domestic pets are just as susceptible to rabies as any other animal. Most state laws require that all dogs and cats be vaccinated for rabies. Rabies shots should be administered in the first year of your puppy's life, and then every 3 years thereafter. If you are traveling with your pet across state or international lines, you may need proof that your dog has an up-to-date rabies vaccination.