Do Animal Shelters Give Vaccinations? (2023)

Adopting your new pet at a shelter is an exciting experience, but it’s important to know what you get when you adopt, like vaccinations.

Do animal shelters give vaccinations?

Yes, if you adopt, your dog will be up-to-date on their shots in most cases. If your dog isn’t vaccinated, you’ll need to find a vet to give them their vaccines.

We will be covering what vaccines shelters will give to pets in their care, along with how much it might cost to get your new dog vaccinated elsewhere.

Do Animal Shelters Give Vaccinations?

Shelters Give Vaccinations
Animal shelters across the United States are required to vaccinate the dogs in their care to prevent illness.

Most animal shelters in the United States offer some form of vaccination for the animals in their care.

The types of vaccinations offered will vary from shelter to shelter, but the most common vaccines given are for rabies, distemper, and hepatitis.

Some shelters also offer other vaccines such as Bordetella (for kennel cough) and parvovirus.

The main reason that animal shelters give vaccinations is to protect the health of the animals in their care.

Animal shelters also usually require that all animals be vaccinated before they are adoptable.

This is to protect the health of both the animal and the new owner.

Read More: How Do Animal Shelters Make Money? Animal shelters are non-profits. Here’s how they stay afloat.

Do Shelters Vaccinate Senior Dogs?

Shelters Vaccinate Senior Dogs
Animal shelters vaccinate animals of all ages, from puppies to seniors.

The short answer to this question is yes, animal shelters do vaccinate senior dogs.

The reason why they do so is to help keep these animals healthy and prevent the spread of disease.

Also, senior dogs are more susceptible to illness and disease because their immune systems are not as strong as they once were.

By getting vaccinated, senior dogs can stay healthy and avoid becoming sick.

Vaccinations Administered By Shelters


Rabies vaccinations are necessary for all shelter animals.

This is because rabies is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause death in people.

The primary dose of the vaccine is administered as a single injection, followed by a booster shot 12 months later.

Booster shots against rabies must then be administered every 3 years.


The distemper vaccine offers protection against a wide range of viruses, including hepatitis, parvovirus, and adenovirus.

In most cases, it is administered as a series of 2 or 3 injections, with the first one beginning when the animal is approximately 8 weeks old (if applicable).

After then, the vaccinations are administered at intervals of 4 weeks.

After the initial series of vaccinations, annual distemper booster shots will be required for the dog’s protection against the disease.


The hepatitis virus can ultimately lead to liver damage.

The standard protocol is for a single dose of the hepatitis vaccination to be administered through injection, followed by annual booster injections.


Kennel cough is a respiratory ailment that frequently affects dogs.

The Bordetella vaccine, commonly administered as an intranasal spray or an injection, protects against this condition.

Booster injections are necessary anywhere from once every 6 months to once every year after the initial vaccination.


In dogs, a parvovirus infection can lead to a severe form of gastroenteritis.

The vaccination against parvovirus is normally administered as a series of 2 or 3 shots, the first of which is given when the animal is approximately 8 weeks old (if applicable).

After then, the vaccinations are administered at intervals of 4 weeks for the first series.

Once the initial round of vaccinations is complete, dogs will need to have a booster shot of the parvovirus vaccine once yearly thereafter.

Read More: Are All Shelter Dogs Neutered? Most shelters are required by law to spay and neuter dogs. Learn more.

Costs of Vaccines at Shelters

It costs less to get your dog vaccinated at the shelter.
Shelters will typically administer vaccines for a reduced cost compared to veterinary offices.

The cost of vaccinations at shelters can vary depending on the type of vaccine and the number of doses required.

  • Rabies: $15
  • Distemper: $30
  • Hepatitis: $15
  • Bordetella: $20-25
  • Parvovirus: $20-25

The vaccines help to protect the health of the animals and also help to prevent the spread of disease.

If you are considering adopting an animal from a shelter, be sure to ask about the vaccination requirements and if the cost of vaccinations is included in the adoption fee.

Read our related article, Do Animal Shelters Give Free Shots? for more information regarding vet services at shelters.

List of Other Vaccines

These are just some of the many additional vaccines that might be given to dogs.

  • Canine parainfluenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Coronavirus
  • Giardia

Watch this video for more information on what dog vaccines are recommended:


Before an animal may be adopted from a shelter, it must first have had all of the necessary vaccinations.

This is done to ensure that both the animal and its new owner have a healthy start to their relationship.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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