Vet Reviewed

By The Farmer's Dog | June 25, 2023

Parvo is a serious illness caused by canine parvovirus type 2. Dogs afflicted with parvo can suffer from severe gastrointestinal problems, and the disease can be fatal. As such, it’s important to do everything you can to protect them. One important tool for shielding dogs from parvo is vaccination.

Most puppies need three or four parvo shots

Veterinarians consider parvo a “core” vaccine, meaning that every dog should get it. Most puppies will receive three or four shots against parvo, and a typical schedule might see them receiving their injections of a combination parvo/distemper vaccine at 6, 8, and 12 weeks. They might get another booster at 14 or 16 weeks. Talk to your veterinary healthcare team to figure out which schedule is best for your puppy, and what precautions you should take before they have full immunity.

Puppies get other vaccinations, too

Parvo and distemper are not the only illnesses that dogs need to be vaccinated against. Every puppy should be vaccinated against rabies to protect themselves and the community from that fatal illness. Your vet should be able to guide you toward an appropriate schedule, and you can also check what your state’s laws require. Dogs should be vaccinated against hepatitis, too. 

Depending on your veterinarian’s advice and your dog’s lifestyle, a vet may recommend that they be vaccinated against Bordetella—a bacteria that causes kennel cough—leptospirosis, or canine influenza. Consult with your veterinary healthcare team to make sure your dog gets the protection they need.

Vaccines help protect puppies from dangerous diseases—but pay attention and communicate with your vet

Vaccines are among the most important tools humans can use to keep their pets alive and healthy for longer, helping them dodge illnesses that are much easier to prevent than to treat.

But, just like humans, dogs can sometimes experience side effects from vaccines. Most of these are not serious, and the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the small risks for the vast majority of dogs. But it’s still wise to follow your veterinary healthcare team’s instructions and watch closely for any signs that your pup isn’t feeling well after shots; this way, they can receive treatment if they need it. Also be sure to communicate clearly with the vet about your pup’s medical history so that they can give them the best care possible.

For example, if a dog has an allergic reaction to one shot, they may be able to avoid future incidents with an appropriate dose of Benadryl before a booster.