A dog receiving vaccinations

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. 

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

Before travelling abroad, your dog will need a pet passport. To obtain a pet passport, 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 passports: 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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