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Vaccinations for your dog

As a loving dog owner you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your beloved pet protected from potentially life-threatening diseases. That’s why it’s so important you keep your dog vaccinations up-to-date. Not only will you protect your own dog, but you’ll stop them passing on nasty bugs to their friends.

Most reputable boarding kennels will insist on seeing proof that you’re up-to-date with your jabs and, if you’re planning to take your dog abroad, you’ll also be expected to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

Make a note on your calendar each year and help keep your dog as healthy as possible!

How often do I need to vaccinate my dog?

Your vet will be able to tell you about all the vaccinations available for your dog and how often they need to be administered. Vaccinations can begin when your puppy is between six and twelve weeks of age and you need to keep your pup away from other dogs until they’re fully covered.

Puppy vaccinations take the form of two injections spaced out over two weeks. Make sure you ask your breeder or rescue centre which vaccines have been given, and when, so you can schedule an appointment with your vet to complete the course. Although your puppy shouldn’t mix with other dogs until your vet says it’s OK, they can play safely with other dogs in your household so long as they too are fully vaccinated.

As well as their initial puppy injections your pet may need additional booster jabs. Your vet will be able to tell you what they need, and when, and you should also ask for a puppy vaccination schedule so you can pop those important dates in your diary.

What types of vaccinations are available?

Labrador retriever in park at the sunrise

Dog vaccines can be divided into two different types: ‘core’ and ‘non-core’. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs while non-core are recommended on a dog-by-dog basis depending on their levels of risk. Your vet will be able to advise you on their recommendations for your dog.

So what are the diseases you’re trying to avoid and what vaccines are available?

Core vaccines for your dog

Blue health iconCanine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is a potentially fatal viral disease, spread through contact with infected faeces. It’s both widespread and contagious. Symptoms often include vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood), fever and loss of appetite and affected dogs usually require intensive veterinary treatment. Vaccination is critical to prevent infection and to control the spread of the disease.

Canine Distemper

Again, this is a highly contagious viral disease that is also often fatal. It generally affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems and begins with a fever. It’s spread as an airborne infection and vaccination is the only effective means of control. Thankfully this condition is much less common in recent times, but reported cases have increased in areas where vaccinations have fallen.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus-1)

This contagious viral disease can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from fever, thirst and loss of appetite to bleeding problems and liver damage. Infection is spread through the ingestion of infected urine, faeces or saliva. The good news is that it can be prevented by vaccination.

Non-core vaccines for your dog

Little dachshund at the veterinarian

Your vet will also have a good look at your dog's teeth to decide whether or not they need cleaning and, if so, when. Dental care is particularly important in older dogs as dental disease can not only cause pain but could also lead to problems with their internal organs thanks to the nasty bacteria the diseases can create. This dental check is also a good time to discuss your home teeth cleaning routine with your vet. Yet another example of prevention being better than cure! For more detailed information on looking after your pet’s pearly whites, read our page on caring for your dog’s teeth.

Blue health iconLeptospirosis

This is a potentially fatal bacterial disease generally transmitted through direct contact with infected urine or contaminated water. Rats are the main carriers of disease. Thankfully it’s less common in the UK than in other countries but, if contracted, it can cause rapid and fatal kidney and liver damage. This is one of the diseases that can be contracted by humans too in the form of Weil’s Disease.

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)

This is a highly contagious, but generally mild disease that can be caused by a range of infectious agents, including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus-2 and bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. It starts with an inflammation of the throat but it can progress to the lungs and can be more serious in young or old dogs. The main symptom is a dry, harsh, non-productive cough, which can be followed by retching or gagging. The vaccine is given directly into the nose and most reputable kennels insist on this vaccine before they’ll accept your dog.

Rabies Virus

Rabies is a very serious and fatal disease that, thankfully, isn’t currently seen in the UK. To keep it that way, it’s compulsory to have this vaccination if you want to travel with your dog outside the UK.

Canine Coronavirus

Coronavirus causes diarrhoea in dogs, particularly puppies and young dogs. You may find that this vaccine is included in combination vaccinations. Your vet will be able to tell you more.

Non-UK dog vaccines

Other dog vaccines exist in other countries to protect against Giardia spp, periodontal disease and even Rattlesnake venom. However, these are not licenced in the UK.

Speak to your vet about which vaccines your dog could have and remember, if your dog needs to stay in kennels, or you’re considering taking your dog abroad, make sure you do your homework well in advance so you’ve taken care of any necessary vaccine requirements.

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If you’d like more information on dog vaccinations or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM

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