How many DTAP shots do puppies need?

Puppies require a series of vaccinations called puppy shots in order to protect them from dangerous, potentially deadly infectious diseases. One of the core vaccines included in puppy shots is the DA2PP vaccine, which protects against four different diseases: distemper, adenovirus type 1 and 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. The DA2PP vaccine is often called the “5-in-1” or “7-in-1” vaccine because it protects against multiple diseases in a single injection. Most puppies receive a series of three DA2PP vaccinations spaced 3-4 weeks apart, starting at 6-8 weeks of age. These initial DA2PP shots are followed by annual booster vaccinations to maintain your dog’s immunity.

What is included in the DA2PP vaccine?

Let’s take a closer look at what each letter in “DA2PP” stands for:

  • D = Distemper: A highly contagious and life-threatening viral disease that impacts the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems.
  • A = Adenovirus type 1: A virus that causes infectious hepatitis, which affects the liver.
  • A = Adenovirus type 2: A virus that causes respiratory illness, including coughing, sneezing, and pneumonia.
  • P = Parainfluenza: A respiratory virus that causes coughing, nasal discharge, and fever.
  • P = Parvovirus: A gastrointestinal virus that causes vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and rapid dehydration.

The DA2PP vaccine contains killed or inactivated versions of these viruses so that exposure stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies without actually causing illness in the puppy.

When should puppies get their first DA2PP vaccination?

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Guidelines recommend starting DA2PP vaccinations for puppies at 6-8 weeks of age. Puppies should then receive a second vaccination 3-4 weeks later and a third vaccination at 14-16 weeks of age. Some veterinarians may recommend starting the DA2PP series as early as 5-6 weeks of age and administering the boosters every 2-3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Talk to your vet about the best DA2PP schedule for your specific puppy.

How many DA2PP shots do puppies need total?

Puppies need a series of three DA2PP shots, spaced 3-4 weeks apart, as their initial puppy shots. The first DA2PP shot is administered at 6-8 weeks of age, with boosters at 9-12 weeks and 14-16 weeks. Some veterinary clinics may administer a fourth DA2PP booster at one year of age. After completing this puppy series, adult dogs require just a single DA2PP booster shot every 1-3 years to maintain immunity, depending on risk factors and lifestyle.

What are the side effects of DA2PP shots?

DA2PP vaccinations are extremely safe, but mild side effects can occasionally occur. The most common side effects are:

  • Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy or tiredness

These effects are usually temporary, lasting just 1-2 days. More severe allergic reactions are possible but very rare. Contact your vet if your puppy experiences hives, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, vomiting or diarrhea after vaccination.

Are there any risks to vaccinating puppies?

There are a few potential risks to DA2PP vaccination that dog owners should be aware of:

  • Vaccine reaction: As with any medication, allergic reactions or hypersensitivities can occur but are extremely uncommon.
  • Incomplete immunity: In some cases, a puppy’s immune system may not fully respond to a vaccine, leaving the puppy susceptible.
  • Interference from maternal antibodies: Puppies acquire passive immunity from their mother’s colostrum. If maternal antibody levels are still high, they can interfere with vaccination.

For these reasons, it’s important to follow the complete DA2PP vaccination schedule and confirm that vaccination provides immunity through titer testing. The benefit of protection against deadly diseases far outweighs the negligible risks of vaccination.

What if I adopt an older puppy or miss a DA2PP shot?

If you adopt an older puppy that has missed one or more DA2PP shots, your vet will design a catch-up vaccination schedule. This typically involves administering a DA2PP booster shot right away, followed by another booster 2-4 weeks later. Puppies adoptd after 16 weeks of age may only need a single DA2PP booster. Titer testing can confirm if vaccination produces a protective immune response. As long as the puppy recieves at least one DA2PP shot by 16 weeks of age, they will be adequately protected.

Can DA2PP be combined with other vaccines?

Yes, DA2PP is often administered in combination with other recommended puppy vaccines including:

  • Leptospirosis: Bacterial disease that affects the kidneys and liver.
  • Bordetella: Bacterial bronchitis (“kennel cough”).
  • Lyme: Bacterial disease transmitted by ticks.
  • Canine influenza: Emerging flu virus.
  • Rabies: Required by law starting at 12-16 weeks of age.

Combination vaccines like the 7-in-1 or 8-in-1 provide multiple vaccines in one injection. This reduces stress on the puppy compared to administering each individually. Be sure to discuss combination vaccine options with your veterinarian.

Should puppies get other vaccines in addition to the DA2PP series?

In addition to the core DA2PP shots, the AAHA also recommends:

  • Bordetella: Administered every 6 months to 1 year. Protects against highly contagious kennel cough.
  • Leptospirosis: Given annually. Protects against bacteria that impact kidneys and liver.
  • Lyme: Given annually in at-risk areas to prevent Lyme disease from tick bites.
  • Canine Influenza: Recommended for puppies at boarding, grooming, daycare or dog parks to prevent canine flu.

Discuss your puppy’s lifestyle with your vet to determine which additional vaccines may be appropriate.

Should I give my puppy vaccine boosters every year?

Whether adult dogs need DA2PP vaccine boosters every year is controversial. Traditionally, annual boosters have been the norm. However, research shows immunity lasts at least 5 years for most major diseases like parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus. The AAHA now recommends boosters every 3 years for core vaccines. More frequent boosters may be warranted based on risk factors like boarding, communal housing, outdoor access in wild areas, or a community with disease outbreaks.

Can I titer test instead of doing DA2PP boosters?

Titer tests measure antibody levels in the bloodstream to determine if an adequate immune response exists. Many veterinarians now recommend titer testing dogs for DHPP every 3 years instead of automatic revaccination. Dogs with protective antibody titers don’t need booster shots. Titer testing helps prevent overvaccination for dogs at low risk of disease. However, some boarding facilities still require proof of current vaccination instead of titer results.

At what age can DA2PP vaccination begin?

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Guidelines recommend starting DA2PP vaccinations in puppies as early as 5-6 weeks of age and no later than 8 weeks of age. Starting earlier maximizes protection during the susceptible window before maternal immunity wears off. However, immune response may be inadequate prior to 8 weeks of age. Most puppies receive their first DA2PP shot between 6-8 weeks old.

When does DA2PP immunity develop?

It takes about 7-14 days after vaccination for immunity to begin developing. Full protection requires 2-3 weeks for adequate antibodies to circulate in the puppy’s bloodstream at effective levels. Immunity becomes maximized 2 weeks after the third and final DA2PP puppy shot, around 18 weeks of age. Annual or triannual adult DA2PP booster shots renew this immunity.

Can DA2PP be given at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes, the DA2PP vaccine is safe to administer simultaneously with most other recommended puppy shots including:

  • Bordetella
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme
  • Canine influenza
  • Rabies

Combination vaccines like the 5-in-1, 7-in-1 and 8-in-1 combine DA2PP with certain other vaccines for convenience and less stress on the puppy. Discuss combination vaccine options with your vet.

Should DA2PP be given before or after surgery or illness?

The AAHA recommends delaying DA2PP vaccination in puppies that are showing signs of illness or have just recovered from surgery or a medical condition. This is because the puppy’s immune response may be diminished, rendering vaccination ineffective. Generally, vaccination should be postponed until the puppy has fully recovered.

Is DA2PP safe for pregnant dogs or young puppies?

DA2PP is not recommended for pregnant dogs, newborn puppies, or puppies less than 5 weeks old. The killed viruses and adjuvants stimulate a strong immune response that could be dangerous during pregnancy or while the puppy’s immune system is still underdeveloped. Maternal antibodies passively protect newborns until puppy shots can safely begin between 5-8 weeks of age.

Key Points

  • Puppies receive a series of three DA2PP vaccinations spaced 3-4 weeks apart starting as early as 5-6 weeks of age.
  • The DA2PP vaccine protects against distemper, adenovirus 1 and 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
  • After the initial series, adult dogs require DA2PP boosters every 1-3 years to maintain immunity.
  • Mild side effects like soreness, fever, and lethargy are common but resolve quickly.
  • Additional puppy vaccines like bordetella, leptospirosis, and Lyme are often recommended based on lifestyle.
  • Annual boosters were once standard but the trend is now towards less frequent revaccination.
Age Recommended Vaccination
5-6 weeks Optional early DA2PP (some vets)
6-8 weeks DA2PP #1
9-11 weeks DA2PP #2
12-16 weeks DA2PP #3
12-16 weeks Rabies
1 year DA2PP and Rabies boosters
Every 1-3 years DA2PP and Rabies boosters


Protecting puppies with a complete series of core DA2PP vaccinations is crucially important to defend against deadly contagious diseases. Puppies should receive three consecutive DA2PP shots starting as early as 6 weeks old and completing by 16 weeks old. Additional vaccines may also be recommended based on lifestyle and risk factors. After finishing their puppy series, adult dogs require DA2PP boosters every 1-3 years. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal DA2PP schedule for your new puppy as well as any optional vaccines recommended.

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