How Often Does a Dog Need To Be Vaccinated?

There are also diseases in dogs for which there is no cure. Vaccination is the only way to prevent infection and thus save lives.

What people have taken for granted for a long time is just as important for our dogs. In the fight against diseases, vaccinations are therefore of great importance.

For vaccination to be effective, it must be carried out in good time. Even puppies have to endure this procedure.

What vaccinations are required for dogs?

Which and how many vaccinations your puppy needs is not that easy to answer.

In general, dogs in Germany do not have to be vaccinated. Instead, there are recommended vaccinations and vaccinations given as needed.

You should have your dog vaccinated against the following diseases as a puppy:

  • rabies
  • distemper
  • parvovirus
  • leptospirosis
  • canine contagious hepatitis

These diseases are often transmitted by wild animals and are highly contagious. In many cases, they lead to the death of the dog.

The vaccine ensures that the dog’s immune system comes into contact with a weakened pathogen. The immune system remembers the pathogen. After that, your dog is protected against the disease.

When and how often should a puppy be vaccinated?

Your vet will usually start with the vaccinations from the eighth week of life. Before that, the puppies are still protected by the mother’s antibodies. Vaccination would be ineffective.

After that, puppies absorb fewer and fewer antibodies from their mother’s milk. Because it is almost impossible to get the right vaccination time, puppies are vaccinated several times.

Your puppy must be healthy and active at the time of vaccination. Therefore, your vet will examine the puppy before vaccination.

A booster vaccination against leptospirosis and rabies follows in the 15th month.

  • You should then have your vaccination against leptospirosis and leishmaniasis refreshed annually.
  • The Friedrich Loeffler Institute recommends vaccination every three years against parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis contagiosa canis (HCC).
  • And against rabies, your dog should be vaccinated every two to three years.

In the case of rabies, the so-called antibody titer of 0.5 IU/ml is particularly important. This unit indicates how many antibodies can be detected in one milliliter of blood.

To later determine the exact need for vaccination, your veterinarian could have the antibody titer determined via a blood count.


Germany has been officially free of fox rabies since autumn 2008.

Nevertheless, the rabies vaccination is one of the most important immunizations for the dog. Anger disease or rabies has always been one of the most feared viral infections.

Rabies has four stages.

  1. It starts with symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.
  2. Later, the animal becomes aggressive for no reason, shows signs of paralysis, is restless, and is afflicted with convulsions. The reason for this is the virus, which works its way into the central nervous system via the spinal cord.
  3. The unmistakable sign of a rabies infection is hypersensitivity to light and noise as well as atypical reactions to water.
  4. The final stage is coma and respiratory paralysis, leading to death.

Any infected animal must be killed immediately, even without the owner’s consent. This is true even if the dog has even had contact with an infected animal.

However, if the dog can be shown to have been vaccinated against rabies, there is no danger. Therefore, a correct entry in the vaccination card is particularly important.

The puppy should receive its first vaccination from the age of twelve weeks. This is followed by another vaccination after a month. With the third vaccination, which takes place after 15 months, the basic immunization is complete.


Distemper is one of the oldest known canine diseases that are very dangerous. Thanks to the vaccine, dogs are now very rarely infected.

Distemper is transmitted through contact with infected animals or their excrements.

The virus can attack different parts of the body. Depending on this, different signs of illness develop. It can lead to problems in the gastrointestinal tract as well as respiratory problems such as coughing.

However, epileptic seizures or paralysis are just as possible as keratinization of the skin on the nose or footpad.

Distemper also causes general weakness and usually ends fatally. If a dog survives the distemper infection, the animals usually retain the so-called distemper tick, lifelong damage to health.

Since puppies are particularly at risk, vaccination begins at the age of eight weeks. Thereafter, the immunization is repeated once more at four weeks and then at 16 weeks of age.


Parvovirus, or canine disease, is primarily transmitted through the feces of infected animals. It does not cause symptoms in every dog.

Once a dog has become infected, it can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, as well as a high fever. If the disease is recognized quickly, the prognosis is quite good.

However, there are always severe courses or complications such as heart problems. Puppies are particularly affected.

Puppy myocarditis mainly affects animals between the ages of three and twelve weeks. They often die without any typical symptoms.

This problem is now avoided by immunizing breeding dogs. The puppies are vaccinated for the first time in the eighth week of life. Then again after four weeks and at the age of 16 weeks.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. This disease is zoonosis. This means it can be transmitted from dogs to humans. For this reason, it is notifiable.

Dogs are infected via wild animals and their urine. The course of the disease varies depending on the type of pathogen. In most cases, however, general fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite can be observed.

Leptospirosis can severely damage the kidneys when it is severe. Bloody urine occurs, leading to kidney failure. Leptospirosis is also very dangerous, especially for puppies.

Puppies are vaccinated for the first time at eight weeks. This is followed by vaccination in the twelfth week and again after 15 months.

Canine contagious hepatitis

Hepatitis is a contagious inflammation of the liver that is transmitted through the body secretions or feces of infected dogs.

It can go very differently. And not every dog ​​shows symptoms.

If symptoms occur, they express themselves in fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and apathy. Water retention in the body can occur. The liver and spleen are enlarged and bleeding from the skin or mucous membranes is possible.

A diagnosis is often very difficult to make. In young dogs, the disease is usually fatal within a few hours. In adult dogs, liver inflammation can become chronic and severely damage the organ.

Hepatitis is vaccinated for the first time in the eighth week of life. Then again after four weeks and then at the age of 16 weeks.

Vaccinations given as needed

In contrast to these life-threatening diseases, which are very easily transmitted, vaccinations against Lyme disease and kennel cough are considered optional vaccinations.

This means that the vet will only vaccinate them if necessary.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. For the pathogen to be successfully transmitted, the tick must remain on the dog for several hours. Therefore, on the Tick Prevention page, I recommend that you remove ticks within 24 hours.

Diagnosing Lyme disease is not easy. The reason for this is a very long incubation period and symptoms that can also be observed in many other diseases.

The signs of the disease are often not associated with a tick bite because it was a long time ago.

Vaccination against Lyme disease is not necessary because dogs cannot spread the disease further. In addition, tick repellents such as collars and spot-on preparations offer good prevention.

Kennel cough

Vaccination against kennel cough is only recommended if many dogs live together in a small space. This is the case in kennels or animal shelters.

Does your dog regularly meet many other dogs at shows and events? Then you should seriously consider vaccination against kennel cough.

Kennel cough is spread by droplet infection. Normally, however, it heals completely on its own after a few days. Kennel cough can be dangerous for young animals and puppies.

What vaccinations does a dog need?

If you want to travel abroad with your dog, many vaccinations are mandatory. Make sure that all vaccinations are entered correctly into the vaccination card.

There is a great deal of debate about the point of vaccinations.

That is why dog ​​owners keep discussing whether vaccinations are necessary at all. Some dog owners even see it as a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical industry and veterinarians. After all, both parties earn a lot from recommended vaccinations.

As you can see, I don’t get much out of this argument. Hepatitis contagiosa canis is now considered extremely rare because many dogs are vaccinated against it.

Rabies has not been eradicated for no reason. If we dog owners become as weary of vaccinations as many parents are, then this deadly disease will come back.

Some animals tolerate vaccination much worse than others. Intolerance or immune deficiencies can occur. Therefore, the vaccine against Lyme disease is currently still controversial.

Just ask your vet. Find out about the individual diseases in good time and at your leisure. Weigh the benefits and risks for you and your dog.

Always bear in mind that serious and easily transmitted diseases such as rabies or distemper can mean great suffering for your dog.

Personally, if in doubt, I would prefer to have one too many vaccinations. With leptospirosis, you even accept having your disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often does a dog need to be vaccinated and dewormed?

The basic immunization is completed with vaccination in the 15th month of life. From then on, a refresher is usually recommended every one to three years.

How long can you delay the next dog vaccination?

In general, it is advised not to delay the most important vaccinations by more than 4 weeks to 3 months to ensure optimal protection for your dog. However, even if you are a few months late, your vet can still easily boost the vaccination.

Should I have my dog vaccinated every year?

Is annual dog vaccination really necessary? No, you do not have to vaccinate your dog against every disease every year. Studies and investigations have made it possible to find out how long which vaccine is effective against which pathogen.

How long does the rabies vaccination last in a dog?

In the vaccination rhythm, the dog should get the third rabies vaccination one year after the second vaccination. To maintain protection, revaccination is scheduled every two to three years. This booster of the rabies vaccination for dogs is recorded in the rabies ordinance.

How much does the annual dog vaccination cost?

How much do dog vaccinations cost? A combination vaccination against the common vaccinable dog infectious diseases costs about 50 to 70 euros. However, since a basic immunization has to be vaccinated several times at intervals of a few weeks, the costs are correspondingly higher in the first year.

What happens if I don’t vaccinate my dog?

Exposure to pathogens can quickly lead to death if unvaccinated. When breastfeeding ends, the protection provided by the antibodies present in breast milk also ends, so it is advisable to start the first vaccination with a puppy around 8 weeks old.

Are unvaccinated dogs dangerous?

Unvaccinated dogs, therefore, have a real risk of contracting the infections mentioned. For the sick animal, this means pain, suffering, and possibly death. Withholding vaccinations against dangerous infectious diseases is therefore relevant to animal welfare.

Can a dog die after vaccination?

Symptoms such as itching, vomiting and diarrhea, swelling, inflammation, and pain at the vaccination site, and anaphylactic shock, which can sometimes lead to the death of the dog, are less common.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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