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Dog Vaccinations

Dog Vaccinations

Why Vaccinate?

When puppies and dogs encounter infection for the first time, their immune system will try to protect them. Unfortunately, your dog may become ill while its immune system is trying to learn how to do this. Vaccines contain weakened or dead forms of the relevant viruses and bacteria and, following vaccination, your dog’s immune system will generate a protective response. This teaches the system, in advance, how to recognise and defend against the infection. This is particularly valuable as some infections can cause incurable disease. Vaccination does not guarantee one hundred percent protection.

All pets benefit from regular vaccination as this decreases the risk of your pet contracting a disease that is vaccinated against. Please also bear in mind that if we vaccinate our pets, this also helps contribute to so called ‘herd immunity’, leading to a decrease in the potential of these diseases occurring in the dog population as a whole.

When to Vaccinate

Puppies need a primary vaccination course. The first injection is given at 8-10 weeks of age and a second injection is given 2-4 weeks later. Some practices do a three part initial vaccination course. This protection needs to be maintained by an annual booster vaccination to ensure your pet remains protected throughout its life. We will issue you with a vaccination record card which may be required by boarding kennels and some training classes. We aim to send you a reminder when it is time for an annual booster. At this appointment your dog will also receive a thorough health examination and you can discuss any health concerns with the vet. To keep immunity at its optimum level we recommend annual re-vaccination. If your pet’s vaccination has lapsed, restarting the program with two injections may be required.

What can we protect against?

  • Canine Distemper (Hard Pad)
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Kennel Cough
  • Rabies

Canine Distemper (Hard Pad)

There are still outbreaks of this disease, although it is not seen with the same frequency that it was before vaccines became available. The distemper virus targets a number of systems giving a spectrum of symptoms – pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhoea, and, eventually, brain damage leading to fits. In some circumstances the footpads and nose become cracked. This disease is often fatal.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

This is caused by a virus which attacks the liver, kidneys, eyes, and lungs of dogs. The disease can be rapid, causing death in 24-36 hours; alternatively, the dog may recover but have ongoing liver problems and shed the virus for many months, posing a threat to other unvaccinated dogs.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus was first seen in the late ‘70s, killing thousands of dogs. The disease is still seen but less frequently. The virus is very persistent in the environment, is unaffected by many household disinfectants and can be brought home on footwear and clothing. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea with blood, with very rapid dehydration. Dogs of all ages can become infected and, without treatment, dogs die within days. Even with treatment many dogs and puppies die or take weeks to recover, some sustaining permanent damage. Some are lucky and survive with treatment.


The bacterium Leptospira causes this disease and is carried by a number of both domestic and wild animals, particularly rats. The infection can be caught directly from infected animals, via urine or bites, or through contaminated water, soil or food. The bacterium can enter the body through the membranes (mouth, nose, eyes) or through damaged skin (abraded, scratched, or water-softened skin). This bacterium attacks the liver and kidneys (although other organs may also be a target); dogs can die within days or, more commonly, from long-term infection causing chronic liver or kidney failure. This disease can also be transmitted to humans with fatal consequences.

The disease is always present in the environment for your dog to pick up, especially in contaminated rivers, streams and water courses, both flowing and standing. More cases occur after heavy rainfall.

Up to four types of Leptospira are now recognised as a risk to UK dogs and are covered by annual vaccination.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease of the dog’s respiratory tract. Dogs affected develop a harsh dry cough, much like whooping cough in humans. The disease is caused by bacterial and viral agents including Bordetella and Canine Parainfluenza.

Symptoms are a harsh hacking cough with gagging/retching, sometimes giving the appearance of something stuck in the throat.

The coughing can last for a few weeks and, during this time, more serious complications can develop, including bronchopneumonia. Vaccination is intended to reduce the severity of disease and decrease virus shedding.

Kennel cough is passed from dog to dog via airborne droplets and, therefore, dogs are at risk of infection whenever they share the same airspace as other dogs; most especially kennels, dog shows, training classes and general socialising. However, dogs may become infected even when out walking in the park. Many boarding kennels insist on this vaccine but please ensure you check with your Kennel as they may stipulate vaccination at least 3 weeks before a stay.

This vaccine can be given with your dog’s annual vaccination.


Although this is not routinely needed in the UK, dogs need to be vaccinated against rabies prior to travelling abroad. Vaccination can be carried out from 3 months of age.

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