How do vaccinations impact the health and well-being of my dog?

Just like with people, we vaccinate dogs for the same reason we vaccinate children. There are so many different diseases that are contagious and communicable, and unfortunately, they can be potentially life-threatening. The fact that we have vaccines to protect your dogs against some of these diseases means they can be life-saving.

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

Are vaccinations required by law?

Only the rabies vaccine is required by law. Every state requires that rabies be given. The other ones are not required by law, but are recommended as we're much more likely to see the diseases we're protecting against with the other vaccines than with rabies.

Does my dog's lifestyle factor into what vaccinations my veterinarian will recommend?

Definitely. Not every dog needs every vaccine, it really does depend on your dog's lifestyle. Is your dog more of a social dog, going around the neighborhood? Or is he going to be a stay-at-home dog? All of those dogs are going to have different needs when it comes to vaccines.

How soon should I get my dog vaccinated?

The first stage, we generally start to vaccinate puppies at six weeks of age. But six weeks would be the youngest we'd ever start.

Do I really need to avoid allowing my puppy to socialize with other dogs until they are fully vaccinated?

If your dogs are vaccinated and in a protected area, you don't have to be as concerned about issues involving your household. But absolutely under no circumstances would I ever even think about taking a puppy to a dog park, for example, or walking down the sidewalk where you may encounter other dogs until it's been completely vaccinated.

Why is it important to avoid missing a dog vaccination?

Some of the vaccines have to be given in a certain sequence, especially when we're first getting them. If you go beyond a certain time frame for the booster, then we have to start over, which becomes basically a waste of money for you.

What is the typical puppy vaccination schedule?

Puppies start with what we call Distemper-Parvo at as young as six weeks of age. Another core vaccine would be what we call parainfluenza and Bordetella, which we start at maybe eight weeks of age. Rabies has to be given at least by 12 weeks old. There are also a couple of other vaccines for Lyme disease and canine flu, which are very much lifestyle diseases.

What diseases are prevented with vaccinations?

When discussing essential vaccinations for dogs, the core vaccine is rabies, as it's legally required. The Bordetella and parainfluenza vaccines, which include two forms of kennel cough, are also important. Additionally, the Distemper-Parvo vaccine covers distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvo in a single shot. In many cases, this vaccine may also include protection against leptospirosis. It's important to note that the initial series for the Leptospirosis vaccine requires two shots and is given alongside the Distemper-Parvo vaccine in subsequent doses.

Furthermore, the Lyme vaccine, necessary for some dogs depending on their exposure risk, also starts with a two-shot series. Similarly, the Canine Flu vaccine initially requires two shots. These vaccination series are crucial for maintaining your dog's health and preventing the spread of these diseases.

Dog Vaccination - FAQs

Dr. Bob Parrish
Carolina Value Pet Care

How many times a year does my dog need vaccinations?

There are around four or five different vaccines, including three core vaccines for dogs. The frequency of vaccination is based on your dog's lifestyle and varies depending on the vaccine, as each has a different schedule. Once your dog has received its initial vaccines, it's typically about a year before it needs any more. The type of vaccines administered will determine how often they are needed.

Is it safe to get multiple vaccines at the same time?

Yes, it is safe. Vaccines stimulate the body's immune system. There is no evidence that administering vaccines individually for dogs is any more beneficial than giving them simultaneously.

What is titer testing and is it effective?

Titer testing measures the body's response to vaccines. For instance, if a dog is given a rabies vaccine and is going to be traveling overseas, they would have to get a vaccine titer. The titer tests the body's response. However, there is a limitation with titers. They only indicate that your body has responded to the vaccine, not if your body remains protected against the disease you vaccinated against.

Does my puppy need to restart boosters if they miss a vaccine?

It depends on what age the vaccines are started for your puppy. Ideally, puppies should start getting vaccines at six weeks of age, but often we see them at different ages. They need to get vaccines up to the point where they're 16 weeks of age. If a puppy is older than 16 weeks, they just need one vaccine, depending on what we're vaccinating against. If we see them before they're 16 weeks of age, then for the distemper parvo, yes, they will need to get a booster. And for leptospirosis, they need a booster regardless of any age. It really depends on the vaccine and the age at which we start.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (704) 288-8620, or you can email us at But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram