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Dog vaccinations – everything you need to know

Dog vaccinations – everything you need to know

Vaccinating your dog against harmful and infectious diseases should be top of your pet priority list. Here’s everything you need to know about vaccinating your canine companion. 

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 8 OCTOBER 2019

When should I vaccinate my dog?

Puppies need to be vaccinated against harmful diseases at six to nine weeks old. They need a second set of vaccinations two to four weeks later.

Your dog will likely need boosters every 12 months to keep them infection free – or every three years, depending on the vaccine.

However, not all dogs will need boosters. It depends on the general health of your dog and how prevalent certain diseases are where you live. Speak to your vet for specific details.

Vaccinations aren’t normally covered by pet insurance, so you’ll need to pay £30-£60 for your puppy’s initial set of vaccines. Regular booster vaccines will cost less than this.

What vaccinations does my dog need?

There are four main diseases that dogs in the UK are vaccinated against:

  • Canine parvovirus – Passed on through infected dog poo, symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea containing lots of blood, as well as severe dehydration. Sadly, there’s no specific treatment, and puppies that contract this disease are particularly vulnerable.
  • Canine distemper – Usually spreads through direct or close contact with an infected dog via bodily fluid – such as saliva from a bite. Symptoms vary but can include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and coughing. It can be fatal, but even if a dog survives there can be long-term neurological and mobility problems, such as seizures, or difficulty in walking.
  • Leptospirosis – Severe cases of this cause liver and kidney failure, and can be fatal in both dogs and humans. It’s contracted through infected urine or contaminated water (usually stagnant). It’s more common in areas with a high concentration of rats.
  • Infectious canine hepatitis – There are two strains of this virus: one results in a cough and the other causes hepatitis. Symptoms include tiredness, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. While it can be fatal in some dogs, the majority do recover.

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How do dog vaccines work?

All vaccines work on the principle of injecting harmless viruses into the body in order to develop antibodies, which then fight off specific diseases. Just as with humans, vaccines are given to dogs to prevent potentially fatal illnesses, as well as to stop them spreading.


Will vaccines hurt my dog?

As with any medication, there may be some side effects. As well as some swelling at the injection site, look out for:

  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Most side effects will pass within one to two days, If you’re concerned, please speak to your vet.

What dog vaccinations are needed to travel?

To receive a pet passport for travel abroad (and to allow your pet re-entry to the UK), dogs should be vaccinated against rabies. Some countries also require proof that dogs have been treated for ticks and tapeworm.

Does pet insurance cover the cost of vaccines?

Pet insurance doesn’t usually cover routine care, such as:

  • Vaccinations
  • Neutering
  • Microchipping

The cost of vaccines will vary from vet to vet, so it’s worth comparing.


  • If you’re on a low income or receiving certain benefits you may be eligible to low-cost vet care from some animal charities that could help with the cost of vaccinations.
  • The RSPCA offers help to some pet owners – You might be able to take your dog along to one of its hospitals or mobile clinics, depending on where you live.

How much do dog vaccinations cost?

While prices may vary depending on your dog and your vet, here are some average dog vaccination costs to bear in mind:

Dog vaccination Cost
First set of puppy jabs - covering conditions such as kennel cough £30-£60
Booster vaccination with worming treatment £35
Microchipping £10-15 from a vet. Free from charities such as Blue Cross and Battersea Dogs Home 
Pet Passport - including the record of vaccinations needed to travel abroad £150-£250

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