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Dog vaccinations: keeping your puppy happy and healthy reading-time-icon 2 min read

There’s no better way of keeping your dog healthy and happy than protecting them against illness.

A full vaccination course will get them off to the best start in life, and regular booster jabs will maintain their level of protection.

Which vaccinations does my dog/puppy need?

Generally, your vet will recommend routine injections against:

Canine distemper

A highly infectious virus that can attack your dog’s lymph nodes and respiratory, urinary, digestive and nervous systems. It’s relatively rare in the UK, but its contagious nature and lack of cure mean that protection is vital. Find out more about Canine distemper

Canine parvovirus (Parvo)

A common, highly contagious illness that attacks the lining of the intestines. Vets can treat the symptoms of parvo in your dog, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, but there is no known cure for the condition itself. Find out more about Canine parvovirus

Leptospirosis (Lepto)

A bacterial infection, spread through infected rat urine and contaminated water. It can be treated and managed with antibiotics, but severe cases can be fatal. Find out more about bacterial infections in dogs

Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH)

An incurable viral disease, spread through the bodily fluids of infected dogs. In severe cases, ICH can cause jaundice, liver failure, seizures or coma, and can even be fatal.

Kennel Cough vaccinations 

Vets also vaccinate against Kennel Cough – also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. All dogs should be vaccinated against Kennel Cough and it’s vital to keep your dog up to date with boosters.

Most boarding kennels will insist your dog is up to date with their Kennel Cough booster, so do plan ahead if you’re organising a trip without them.

Read more: Kennel Cough: spotting the signs and symptoms.

Protecting your new puppy

Puppies and younger dogs are particularly vulnerable because of their immature immune system, so it’s vital to get them vaccinated early.

First vaccinations will start when they're 8 weeks old, or earlier in some cases. Reputable breeders and rehoming centres will arrange for their puppies to be vaccinated at this age. 

The puppy will then need a second course 2-4 weeks later. As their owner, you may need to arrange this. 

It’s important to keep your new puppy indoors and away from unvaccinated dogs until they’re fully protected. Your vet will advise further once they've administered the vaccinations.

And after that, how often will my dog need a booster?

Your dog will need a booster vaccination every year. Certain conditions such as Parvovirus will only be needed every 3 years, but the likes of Leptospirosis will need to be given annually. 

The frequency will also depend on your dog's general health and the prevalence of particular conditions in your area. Your vet will be able to advise more closely on these matters. 

How much do puppy vaccinations cost? 

Like most things, the price will vary depending on where you and your dog or puppy live. Certain areas of the country are more expensive than others, and different veterinary practices may charge different prices. 

At My Family Vets, we recommend The Pet Health Club. You’ll get your puppy’s primary vaccine course, plus all their booster vaccinations for just £16.60 per month. 

Membership also includes all your dog’s flea and worm treatment, a health check every 6 months, great discounts such as 20% off neutering, 25% off food, and much more.

black puppy on grass

When can my puppy go outside?

Taking your new puppy outside can seem like a big step for pet owners.

By keeping your dog safe and secure, you can break down the process of introducing them to the outside world into easy to manage steps, based on what stage of their vaccination schedule they are at. 

If your garden is secure and safely closed off from other dogs, your puppy can go outside straight away.

Introducing your puppy to the garden is a great way to build your pups confidence and familiarize them with their new environment. Taking them outside is also a great way to start their toilet training.

When can I take my puppy for a walk?

It’s always best to ask your vet and take their advice, but generally speaking, you will be able to take your puppy out for a walk 2 weeks after their second jab.  

Unvaccinated puppies are susceptible to picking up viruses and infectious diseases, such as parvo and distemper, because they will spend lots of time sniffing and licking as they explore their surroundings. 

When you have waited the length of time that your vet has advised, your fully vaccinated puppy can go outside and start socialising with other dogs. It's best to start with short trips, gradually building up to long walks.

I’m travelling abroad. Will my dog need injections? 

Before travelling abroad, your dog will need a pet passport or in some cases an Animal Health Certificate. To obtain a pet passport or an AHC, they'll need certain vaccinations.

Vaccinations required will depend on the country you plan to visit but in many cases, your dog will need a vaccination against Rabies. Always allow plenty of time for preparation before you travel, and speak to your vet well in advance.

Read more:  Pet travel after Brexit: all you need to know

Need more info?

If you’ve any questions about protecting your puppy or dog, just call or visit your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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