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.  

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
3
minute read
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Posted 25 AUGUST 2021

When should I vaccinate my dog?

Puppies need to be vaccinated against harmful diseases when they’re between eight and 10 weeks old, although they can be vaccinated earlier. They’ll then need a second set of vaccinations two to four weeks later. 

How often do I need to vaccinate my dog?  

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 somewhere between £30 and £60 for your puppy’s initial set of vaccines. Regular booster vaccines will cost less than this. If you’re worried that this is expensive, it’s worth remembering that vaccines are a lot cheaper than treating a sick puppy. 

What vaccinations does my dog need? 

Dogs in the UK are generally vaccinated against four diseases:

  • 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 catch this disease are particularly vulnerable.
  • Canine distemper – Usually spreads through 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 they can have 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. Leptospirosis is contracted through infected urine or contaminated water (usually stagnant) water. It’s more common in areas with lots of rats.
  • Infectious canine hepatitis – There are two strains of this virus: one causes a cough and the other causes hepatitis. Symptoms include tiredness, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. While it can be fatal in some dogs, most do recover.

Do I have to get my dog vaccinated? 

No one’s going to force you to vaccinate your dog – it’s up to you. But if you’re planning on leaving your pet in kennels or doggy daycare, you’ll find that most of them will want to see proof that your dog is fully vaccinated, including for ‘kennel cough’. 

What is kennel cough? 

Kennel cough is a nasty infection that gives dogs a hacking cough – not unlike a human cold. It spreads easily in places where lots of dogs gather, which is why kennels and doggy daycare centres are so keen that animals are vaccinated.  

How do dog vaccines work? 

All vaccines work on the principle of injecting harmless viruses into the body. The body then develops antibodies, which 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. Look out for swelling at the injection site, along with: 

  • Mild fever 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing

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

What vaccinations does my dog need to travel? 

To get a pet passport for travel abroad (and to allow your pet re-entry to the UK), dogs must 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 calling a few and comparing. 

Alternatively: 

  • If you’re on a low income, or receiving certain benefits, you may be eligible for 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 in the UK?

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

Frequently asked questions

How long are dog vaccinations effective?

There’s evidence that most dogs are still immune to hepatitis, parvovirus, and viral distemper three years after they’re vaccinated. But leptospirosis vaccines only last a year. 
 
Your dog’s immunity will weaken over time, which is why it’s so important to have annual booster shots. Your vet will give you a vaccination card, or let you know over the phone when your dog was last vaccinated, so you can stay up to date more easily.  

Why you should vaccinate your puppy:

There are a few good reasons to have your dog vaccinated. These include:  

  • It’s good for the whole puppy community 
    If every owner vaccinates their animals, dogs will acquire herd immunity. If each dog is better protected, diseases are less likely to spread and all of our pooches benefit.  
  • Vaccinating your dog is cheaper than treating it 
    Even with pet insurance in place, you could still find yourself having to pay an excess charge if your dog gets sick. 
  • It could save your dog’s life 
    Some of the illnesses we’ve mentioned are fatal – and certainly very hard to treat.  

Can a vaccinated dog still catch disease?

Unfortunately vaccines are never 100% effective. But they will protect the vast majority of dogs, and if yours is unlucky enough to still catch one of the diseases, it’s likely to have fewer symptoms and recover quicker if it’s been vaccinated.  

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