Dog Vaccination

Why Vaccinate my Dog?

Vaccination allows your dog to develop immunity to dangerous diseases. This means that if your dog comes into contact with a disease, it will be protected and will not get ill. If your dog is not protected by vaccination they are at risk of catching dangerous diseases.

How do I get my dog vaccinated?

Your vet will examine your dog to check that it is healthy prior to vaccination. This is important as vaccines are often less effective in an unhealthy dog. They will advise you on which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog depending on its age and lifestyle.

How Often Does my dog need vaccinating?

New Dog or Puppy

Your dog or puppy will first require a primary course of vaccinations, this is usually two vaccinations but may be three depending on the type of vaccine and the disease profile in your area.

Puppies will not be fully protected by their vaccinations until approximately 2 weeks after the second vaccine; ask your vet for the exact timings for the vaccination used. Until your puppy is fully protected by its vaccinations:

  • The puppy should not be taken for walks it in public areas.
  • Should not have contact with any dog that is not completely up to date with its vaccinations.
  • Should not have access to dirty or stagnant water.
  • Can go in the car for short journeys.
  • Can visit friends’ houses if they do not have a dog, or their dog is fully vaccinated.
  • Can be carried in public places as long as a good distance is kept from other dogs.


  • Your dog requires a health check by your vet every year. At this check the vet will give any booster vaccines that are required.
  • Some vaccines, such as Leptospirosis, need to be given every year to every dog, others can be left longer depending on the type of vaccine used and the age, breed and lifestyle of your dog.
  • It is vitally important to keep older dogs up to date with annual vaccinations and frequent health checks.

What should my dog be vaccinated against?

All dogs require certain routine vaccinations. The exact mix and frequency that your dog will need will depend on your dog’s lifestyle and background.

  • Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis are routine vaccinations that are recommended for all dogs.
  • Kennel cough is highly recommended for dogs going into kennels. Dogs can also pick up kennel cough from any contact with other dogs such as shows, obedience classes or just talking in the park.

A Note about Kennel Cough Vaccine

Most good kennels stipulate that dogs must be vaccinated against Kennel Cough. It is worth thinking very carefully before allowing your dog to go to a kennels that does not require Kennel Cough vaccine. Not only is your dog unprotected, it is also much more likely to pick up Kennel Cough from other dogs in the kennels who are also unprotected.

Below is a table of the diseases that it is possible to vaccinate against in the UK. Those marked with an asterisk are the ‘Core’ vaccines that all dogs should be given.

Distemper* Cause: Canine distemper virus – a measles like virus

Symptoms: can include fever, anorexia (loss of appetite), coughing, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, fitting, blindness, paresis, thickening of the skin on the nose and pads, abortion

How is it spread: Inhalation of the virus

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: All dogs

Parvovirus* Cause Canine Parvovirus

Symptoms: Severe diarrhoea and vomiting, highly infectious and often fatal.

How is it spread?: The virus is present in faeces from affected animals, once in the environment it can survive for long periods of time.

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: All dogs

Hepatitis* Cause: Canine Adenovirus
Symptoms: result from damage to the liver, kidneys and eyes and include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, depression, neurological problems. Often fatal, sometimes within hours.

How is it spread?: Ingesting or inhaling the virus. The virus can survive for long periods of time in the environment.

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: All

Leptospirosis* Cause: Leptospira bacteria

Symptoms: Signs of liver and kidney damage; jaundice, vomiting, anorexia, reluctance to move, blood clotting problems. Can also cause meningitis. Can spread to humans.

How is it spread?: Dogs pick up leptospirosis from dirty water.

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: All

Parainfluenza* Cause: Canine Parainfluenza Virus

Symptoms: A component of kennel cough, causes a hacking cough. Often sounds as though something is stuck in the dog’s throat. Frothy white fluid may be produced.

How is it spread?: Inhalation

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: All

Bordetella Cause: Bordetella bronchiseptica, Parainfluenza virus

Symptoms: Can cause kennel cough, a dry hacking cough which often sounds as if something is stuck in the dogs throat. Frothy white fluid may be produced.

How is it spread?: Inhalation

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: Those going into kennels, shows or having a lot of contact with other dogs.

Coronavirus Cause: Canine Coronavirus

Symptoms: Diarrhoea, worse in younger animals

How is it spread?: In faeces

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: Not essential

Rabies Cause: Rabies virus

Symptoms: This is a fatal disease causing brain damage and death. Once the virus had reached the nervous system it is always fatal.

How is it spread?: Often dogs suffering with Rabies become very aggressive, they bite other animals or humans and passing the virus on.

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: Rabies is not present in the UK. Dogs travelling on the PETs scheme, or those travelling to areas of the world where Rabies is present need to be vaccinated.

Herpes Cause: Canine Herpes Virus

Symptoms: Abortion, infertility, litters of still born pups, puppies that become ill after 2 – 3 weeks.

How is it spread?: From mother to puppy in the birth canal or across the placenta.

Which dogs should be vaccinated? Breeding bitches that are carrying Herpes virus only.

Babesia Cause: Babesia canis/ Babesia gibsoni

Symptoms: Destruction of the red blood cells causes anaemia, fever, weakness. Other complications can include kidney damage, neurological problems, liver and clotting problems

How is it spread: Babesiosis is carried by ticks

Which dogs should be vaccinated?: Those travelling to certain countries abroad, ask your vet.

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