Any trip to the vet with your dog can be expensive and that includes basic vaccines. One way you can save on your dog budget is by turning to vet approved low cost dog vaccines. This means the vaccines are safe, your dog is safe, yet the bill is more affordable. Yes, these options do exist. Today, let’s dig into options for cutting the cost of your dog vaccines while not compromising the quality.
Budget tip: You may think the best way to reduce your dog’s vaccine bill is to simply eliminate them all together. That is actually a horrible idea! First, your dog needs a rabies vaccine by law. Besides rabies, there are other vaccines you’ll want to get for your dog. These vaccines will protect your dog’s own health and provide preventive care. It’s part of being a good dog parent. However, you can get each of these vaccinations at a reduced cost while not compromising quality either through your vet or through other low cost options. That’s a winning recipe for your dog's health and your dog budget!
Why should I vaccinate my dog?
There are many vaccines available for dogs and puppies. Once you adopt your dog, you will want to talk with your vet about which vaccinations your dog or puppy will need or which are advisable for your dog. If you’ve adopted a puppy, then you’ll need to get a series of shots over a period of about 16 weeks.
However, if you’ve adopted a dog, then the vaccines will be a bit different. Additionally, what you plan to do with your dog will often dictate what your vet will recommend for your dog or puppy. For instance, while a Bordatella vaccine isn’t required, it is highly recommended for any dog that is in contact with other dogs such as at the park, daycare, vet’s office, groomer, or even with a dog walker. What does Bordatella do for your dog? It can prevent what’s known as kennel cough, which is highly contagious and can be fatal.
What vaccines am I required to get for my dog?
Honestly, the only vaccine that is required is a rabies vaccination. You will absolutely want your dog to receive a rabies shot.
If you don’t vaccinate your dog for rabies, you’re basically playing roulette with your dog’s life. Keep in mind that rabies has less than a 14% survival rate if contracted by a dog. So, if you skip a rabies vaccine for your dog, you’re gambling your dog won’t contract rabies. But also without a rabies vaccination, you’re rolling the dice that your dog will never bite someone, even in if he or she is protecting you.
Unfortunately, if your dog is not vaccinated against rabies and bites someone, the county or city may order your dog to be euthanized.
Thus, being able to prove your dog is at least vaccinated for rabies will prevent a euthanization order strictly for the sake of rabies.
Additionally, it’s highly recommended that puppies over 10 weeks and then on a yearly basis receive a DHPP vaccine. This vaccine protects your dog against canine distemper, hepatitis, kennel cough, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. You definitely do not want your dog to get any of these easily preventable dangerous diseases, which are often fatal.
What vaccines do my puppy or dog need?
If you adopt a puppy you will need to get him or her a series of vaccines, often called “puppy vaccinations”. Some are considered core vaccines (highly recommended or required) while others are non-core vaccines (not essential but can prevent dangerous diseases).
6-8 weeks of age
Hopefully, your puppy will come to you with these shots, but if not be prepared to get these shots immediately.
- Distemper (highly recommended)
- Measles (highly recommended)
- Parainfluenza (highly recommended)
- Bordatella (optional, but most vets recommended)
10-12 weeks of age
- DHPP (highly recommended)
This is not considered essential. It protects against a bacterial infection generally contracted from water sources. So, if you hike a lot or you are near contaminated water, this may be a vaccine to consider.
- Lyme Disease (Your activity with your dog will dictate if this is a good option for your dog. Your vet can best guide you.)
12-24 weeks of age
This is required by law. But how often it is required depends on your particular location. Additionally, there are rabies vaccines that are valid for 3 years. So, when you get your dog’s vaccine make sure you know if it’s a 1-year or 3-year vaccine.
NOTE: In many locations, a rabies vaccine will also trigger the city or county notifying you of the need for a dog license.
14-16 weeks of age
- Lyme Disease
- Rattle Snake
If you live in rattlesnake country and hike a lot or are very active with your dog, you may want to consider a rattlesnake vaccine. It can save your dog’s life if he or she is bitten. If you decide that you want to get your dog vaccinated against a rattlesnake bit, keep in mind that there is a booster shot about one month after the first injection. Again, your vet will be able to guide you for what’s best for your dog.
12-16 months of age
- Lyme Disease
- Rattle Snake
Every 1-2 years
- Lyme Disease
Every 1-3 years
Are there high-quality low-cost dog vaccines available?
You may be surprised but there are several options you can consider for vaccinating your dog that will reduce your dog’s medical costs. Yet your vet will approve of each option.
1. Multiple dogs or pet discount
If you have more than one pet and you’re getting vaccines for all of them at one time, then ask your vet for a multiple-pet discount. Often they will accommodate this request. Moreover, if your vet doesn’t offer a multiple pet discount, the worse they will say is no. But unless you ask, you will likely never know.
2. Combining vaccines
This is something to discuss with your vet if combining vaccinations is a good idea for your dog. While it may not provide huge savings, it will definitely help. Although keep in mind a rabies vaccine cannot be combined with any other vaccination.
3. Low-cost clinic
These are run by local vets. Additionally, the vaccines are the exact same as what you receive at the vet’s office. The only differences are the price and often the location. I helped my vet with several local low-cost vaccination clinics when I was in college. They were great for reaching people and pets who either wouldn’t normally vaccinate their pets or people who simply wanted to save a bit on their pet budgets.
You can generally find a list of low-cost vet clinics through your local SPCA or shelter.
4. Vet school
If you live near a vet school, call them and ask if they offer dog vaccines at a reduced rate. Often they do because the students need to practice giving shots. These are our future vets and they are supervised by vets and/or professors. Additionally, the vaccines are the same as your dog will receive in your vet’s office.
5. VIP Pet Care
This is a low-cost vet service offered throughout most of the United States. The vaccines are offered at a much lower rate, yet they are administered by a board-certified vet. VIP Pet Care generally offers services through a local Tractor Supply store. You can find one of these pop-up clinics near you on their website. They will even list the vaccines and prices they can offer your dog in your area.
6. VetCo Pet Vaccination Clinics
This low-cost vet service is offered through PetCo. The vaccines are the same as what your dog will receive at your vet’s office and the vaccines are given by a board-certified vet. You can find one of these clinics near you on their website. Not every PetCo offers these vaccination clinics, so definitely check their site first for one near you.
7. Ask your vet
You might be surprised if you ask your vet for a low-cost option for vaccines. My dog, Henry’s vet is actually the local vet for the pets of the homeless in town. As such, he’s a wealth of information about low-cost resources. Your vet may be more of a resource than you even realize.
NOTE: These low cost vaccination options also work well for cats. Keep in mind that cats are also required by law to have a rabies vaccination.
What do I do if I use a low-cost dog vaccine option?
You really don’t need to do anything. When I take Henry into VIP Pet Care, I simply make a copy of the vaccines he was given and then give it to his vet at his next appointment.
How much can I save by using a low-cost option for my dog’s vaccines?
Honestly, it will vary depending on the vaccines, your location, and the option you select. In general, you can save anywhere from 25-50%.
The key to selecting a low-cost vaccination option is to make sure they are administered by a board-certified vet and the vaccines are the same as your vet provides. To do this, simply ask. You can even call your state veterinary board to verify that the vet is certified (or look online).
Can I give my dog his vaccines?
Yes, it’s possible. You would need to get the vaccines which you can ask your vet about. However, I wouldn’t recommend this option unless you are comfortable (and very good) at giving shots. I’m horrible at giving shots. Actually, my technique could be used as a torture method. Yep, I’m a bit dangerous. So, I’d never subject Henry to my shot abilities.
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Summary of how to find vet approved low cost dog vaccines
- multiple pet discounts
- combination shots
- low-cost clinics
- vet schools
- VIP Pet Care
- VetCo Pet Vaccination Clinics
- vet advice
Never give up on your dog and let him or her go without being vaccinated. The vaccines your vet will recommend for your dog you will want to consider. They will be tailored to your dog and your area. However, you may be able to get more affordable vaccine prices other than at the vet’s office. Simply take that list with you. I rest easy knowing Henry’s vaccines are up-to-date. But I’m also happy when I get them at a more cost-effective price.