Puppy Vaccinations


Your new puppy or dog should be examined by a veterinarian within the first week after you bring him or her home. Puppies should be examined for disease and body condition, checked for parasites, and given a wellness examination to be sure they are in good health and receiving appropriate nutrition. You should bring along a fecal sample so that we can make sure your new little friend is not infested with parasites. (The sample should be as fresh as possible and no more than 24 hours old; refrigerate if it cannot be brought to us right away.)

At your puppy’s s first visit, the veterinarian will thoroughly check body systems and condition. S/he will discuss with you core vaccinations required to keep your pet in good health, and she may recommend additional vaccines and explain why they are important in the central Pennsylvania region.

New puppies will require two additional visits to our hospital, ideally spaced four weeks apart, so that they can receive additional vaccinations in each series. When you complete your first appointment, we strongly urge you to schedule the next two. Waiting longer than 4 weeks means the immune response provoked by the first vaccine is no longer effective, and you will need to start the vaccine series over.

Puppy and Dog Vaccines

*Talk with your veterinarian about which vaccinations your puppy or dog should receive. Adjustments may be made for your puppy's age, size and breed.

  • DHPP (Distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus)

    Core vaccine; 12, and 16 weeks, repeat annually until 2 years of age, and every 3 years thereafter

  • Rabies

    Core vaccine: Can be given between 12 and 16 weeks. Give a one-year booster after the initial vaccine, and then every 3 years thereafter.

  • Bordetella (kennel cough)

    Can start at 8 weeks (no booster is needed) and then either annually or every 6 months if needed

  • Lyme CR

    Can start between 8 and 16 weeks with one booster 2-4 weeks later (no more than 6 weeks or puppy must start series over) and then annually

  • Ultra Lyme

    Can start between 9 and 16 weeks with one booster 2-4 weeks later (no more than 6 weeks or puppy must start series over and then annually

  • Canine Influenza

    Can start at 8 weeks with one booster 3 weeks later and then annually if needed

  • Leptospirosis

    Can start at 8 weeks with one booster 3 weeks later and then annually

  • Lyme/Leptospirosis Combo

    Can start between 9 and 16 weeks with one booster 2-4 weeks later (no more than 6 weeks or must start series over) then annually

  • Rattlesnake

    Can start at 16 weeks with a booster in 1 month then annually 1 month before potential exposure

Read more below about the diseases we seek to prevent with properly administered puppy vaccinations.


    Canine distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. puppies younger than four months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against canine distemper are at increased risk of acquiring the disease. It is a “core” vaccination because all dogs need to be protected from it, along with vaccinations for hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza given in a single modified vaccine called the DHPP.

    Puppies and dogs most often become infected with the virus through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) from an infected dog or wild animal. Canine distemper also can be transmitted by sharing food and water bowls and equipment. Infected dogs can shed the virus for months, and mother dogs can pass the virus through the placenta to their puppies.

    Infected animals will develop watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes. They then develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation (“chewing gum fits”), seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, Distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive often have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage.


    Canine hepatitis is a highly infectious viral disease marked by inflammation of the liver. The virus is present in discharge from eyes and nose as well as urine and is transmitted to other dogs by direct contact. Symptoms may or may not be present, but include lethargy, inappetance, mild fever, respiratory discharge, coughing, and possible cloudy eyes after a period of days, Puppies and young dogs are at highest risk of contracting this virus and signs of disease usually occur within two to five days after exposure.

    Young puppies are likely to suffer from fever, depression, and loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, fluid swelling of the head and neck, and possibly jaundice. Such cases are often fatal. It is the “H” in the DHPP vaccine and is considered a core vaccination for dogs.


    Parainfluenza is a virus that has similar symptoms to influenza, but it is a distinct disease. It is related to canine distemper. Parainfluenza is a part of a respiratory complex that is highly transmissible. Dogs with a recent parainfluenza infection can also have additional problems like kennel cough. Symptoms may include fever, coughing, coughing blood, lethargy, not wanting to eat, nasal discharge. It is highly contagious and spreads through droplets from coughing or sneezing as well as on towels and bedding. Parainfluenza is another of the diseases prevented with the DHPP.


    Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are most at risk. Dogs that are ill from canine parvovirus infection are often said to have "parvo." The virus affects dogs' gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. The virus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects. This is why we tell owners of young puppies not to set them down anywhere but inside your yard and never to take them to a dog park.

    Symptoms include lethargy; loss of appetite; abdominal pain and bloating; fever or low body temperature (hypothermia); vomiting; and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock. Puppies often die within 2-3 days. If you see any of these signs, get your puppy to a veterinarian immediately. “Parvo” is another of the diseases prevented with the DHPP.


    There is a high incidence of Lyme disease in our area. Puppies may receive Lyme vaccines beginning as soon as 8 weeks. We recommend that all dogs are vaccinated as soon as possible for Lyme disease and that they receive booster vaccines every year.

    We also recommend routine flea and tick prevention to try and prevent the ticks from transmitting Lyme disease, even through the winter months. Ticks may go dormant in deep snow, but they don't die. If the winter is mild, dogs may still pick up ticks from grasses, bushes and leaves.

    Additionally, we recommend annual screening in case our patients become positive because we want to proactively prevent some of the chronic side effects of Lyme disease. Lyme disease, if left untreated, can cause chronic joint inflammation and arthritis as well as chronic kidney disease and other health issues in dogs.


    Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection which dogs acquire by drinking water in which wildlife or farm animals have urinated. Leptospirosis can be fatal and can be "zoonotic," meaning that it can be spread to humans. Standing water and puddles can be especially hazardous.

    For many years, we've recommended this vaccination for our hunting dogs and dogs who run or hike in the game lands in our area because of all the seasonal wet areas with puddles and free-standing water. However...! Recent research has shown that very small breed dogs are the most likely to be ill with leptospirosis. Based on this research, small breed dogs also should be receiving this vaccine.


    Canine influenza, also known as "dog flu," is a relatively new disease that is extremely contagious. There is no treatment other than supportive care, and the virus can lead to pneumonia. More and more dog owners are choosing to get this vaccination for their pet.

    For more information about canine influenza, visit Dog Flu.

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