Moosh - puppy vaccinations

Taking care of your furry friend can be a challenge if you don’t know all the requirements. From first shots to ongoing vaccinations, it’s of the utmost importance to know not only what jabs your dog needs, but also when and how often they need them.

There’s a good chunk of vaccinations that all dogs require as they age, but does your emotional support animal require the same vaccinations as an everyday pet? And if not, what vaccinations does your ESA dog require?

Are ESA dogs required to be vaccinated?

For the most part, yes, your ESA will have to get all the regulated shots and medications so that they remain healthy. But are some of the common shots optional?

The illnesses that dogs can get vaccinated for include:

  • Canine Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • DHHP
  • Rabies
  • Bordetella 
  • Canine hepatitis
  • Canine parainfluenza
  • Coronavirus
  • Heartworm
  • Kennel cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease

Not all these vaccinations are required by law, but the core vaccines (rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo) are a must when it comes to keeping your animal healthy and safe. The other vaccines can be left up to your discretion. For example, the Lyme disease vaccination might be a good idea if you live in a heavily wooded area or are often hiking with your dog. This will help lower the chances that your ESA will become infected if they do happen to be bitten by an infected tick.

What vaccines does my ESA need?

As mentioned above, not all vaccinations are required, but some are essential. The core four listed below protect against harmful infections that could cause serious health repercussions in your pup.

Moosh - husky dogs
Image by Daniel Lincoln on Unsplash: Does my emotional support animal require vaccinations? Yes! Having a healthy ESA ensures that your health is protected, too.

Rabies (required by law)

Rabies is a type of virus that, when contracted, wreaks havoc on your dog’s central nervous system. The type of symptoms that come with a rabies infection include headaches, anxiety, fear of water, paralysis, excessive drooling, hallucinations, and in serious cases, death.


Another virus that affects dogs is distemper. It affects the animal’s gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, and nervous system. Distemper is easily spread through animal populations because the virus is airborne. An infection can cause your dog to experience seizures, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, vomiting and/or diarrhea, paralysis, and even death.


Canine hepatitis is a liver disease. In dogs, it can lead to jaundice, vomiting, congestion, and pain. There is no cure for the virus, although many dogs can get over a mild case.


The canine parvovirus attacks the stomach and small intestines. It is highly contagious and can be spread easily if your dog comes into contact with any trace of the virus.

Although non-core vaccines are optional, that doesn’t mean that they’re any less important for your emotional support dog. For example, the non-core vaccines protect against many illnesses and afflictions that can cause thousands of dollars to treat, such as:

  • Fleas and ticks
  • Lyme disease
  • Coronavirus
  • Bordetella
  • Giardia
  • Leptospirosis

Many pet owners believe that because these vaccinations are optional, they’re not needed. But they should at least be looked at as environmental assistants. If you live in a high-risk area, it’s better to get the vaccine than risk the illness.

Vaccination schedule for ESA dogs

Vaccines start as early as six to eight weeks in puppies. The first round of vaccines your ESA will be given include the distemper and parvovirus vaccines, with the optional round of Bordetella if you choose.

The schedule than continues at 10–12 weeks. By this time, your emotional support animal will have some level of immunity due to the first round of shots, but their immune system is still highly vulnerable. They’ll get their second round of distemper and parvovirus, but other vaccines will also be included in the shot, including adenovirus (hepatitis) and parainfluenza.

When your emotional support animal matures, rabies vaccinations will begin. There are two rounds of rabies vaccines at 16–18 weeks and then again at 12–16 months. At this time, other vaccines can be introduced such as the influenza vaccine, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease. The second and third rounds of Bordetella will also be done at this time.

The final rounds of DHPP and optional vaccinations will occur every one to two years, and rabies will have to be done every one to three years as recommended by your veterinarian.

How much are vaccinations for my ESA?

The cost for vaccines will depend on which ones you choose to get out of the optional vaccines, and where you live. For example, if you live in a rural area and only get the core vaccines, the cost will be significantly less than if you were to live in the city. However, in rural areas, more vaccines are recommended due to the environment, which will bring up the cost.

On average, the core vaccines tend to cost anywhere from $75 to $100 per round of vaccination. Each additional vaccine will cost anywhere between $15 to $50 dollars, depending on your location, vet, and what round of vaccine it is (i.e. first, second, etc.).

Protecting your emotional support animal from typical viruses and illnesses is a very important part in keeping them healthy. And when your ESA is healthy, they are able to do their job properly so that you are healthy, too.

Moosh - puppy in city
Image by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash: Where you live will play a role in how much vaccinations are going to cost.

Knowing what your emotional support dog needs and when they need it is the first step to a long and healthy life together.

Featured image by Katie Bernotsky on Unsplash