Vaccinations for Dogs and Puppies
Vaccinations are an important part of your dog’s ongoing health. For this reason, your dog will certainly need vaccinations if they are going to a boarding kennel or on holiday. Most reputable boarding kennels will insist on seeing proof that your dog is up-to-date with their jabs and, if you’re planning to take your dog abroad, you’ll also be expected to provide evidence of their vaccination status.
Forgetting to book your dog in for main or booster vaccinations can result in reduced resistance to disease, as well as causing problems for you should you want to travel with your dog. Make a note on your calendar each year so you don’t forget to keep their vaccines up to date!
When do puppy vaccinations begin?
Your vet will be able to tell you about all the vaccinations available for your dog and how often they need to be administered. Vaccinations can begin when your puppy is between six and twelve weeks of age. You need to keep your puppy away from other dogs until they’re fully covered.
Puppy vaccinations take the form of two injections spaced out over two weeks. Make sure you ask your breeder or rescue centre which vaccines have been given, and when, so you can schedule an appointment with your vet to complete the course. Although your puppy shouldn’t mix with other dogs until your vet says it’s okay, they can play safely with other dogs in your household so long as they too are fully vaccinated.
As well as their initial puppy injections your pet may need additional booster jabs. Your vet will be able to tell you what they need, and when, and you should also ask for a puppy vaccination schedule so you can pop those important dates in your diary.
What types of dog vaccinations are available?
Dog vaccines can be divided into two different types: ‘core’ and ‘non-core’. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs while non-core are recommended on a dog-by-dog basis depending on their levels of risk. Your vet will be able to advise you on their recommendations for your dog.
So what are the diseases you’re trying to avoid and what vaccines are available?
Core vaccinations for your dog
Canine Parvovirus is a potentially fatal viral disease, spread through contact with infected faeces. It’s both widespread and contagious. Symptoms often include vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood), fever and loss of appetite. Affected dogs usually require intensive veterinary treatment. Vaccination is critical to prevent infection and to control the spread of the disease.
This is a highly contagious viral disease that is also often fatal. It generally affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems and begins with a fever. It’s spread as an airborne infection and vaccination is the only effective means of control. Thankfully this condition is much less common in recent times, but reported cases have increased in areas where vaccinations have fallen. Vaccinating dogs against it is therefore still important.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Canine Adenovirus-1)
This contagious viral disease can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from fever, thirst and loss of appetite to bleeding problems and liver damage. Infection is spread through the ingestion of infected urine, faeces or saliva. The good news is that it can be prevented by vaccination.
Non-core vaccinations for your dog
Non-core vaccinations are less important than core vaccinations, but your dog may still need them under certain circumstances, such as if they are going on holiday or staying in a boarding kennel. Your vet will be able to tell you if your dog could benefit from them.
This is a potentially fatal bacterial disease generally transmitted through direct contact with infected urine or contaminated water. Rats are the main carriers of disease. Thankfully it’s less common in the UK than in other countries but, if contracted, it can cause rapid and fatal kidney and liver damage. This is one of the diseases that can be contracted by humans too in the form of Weil’s Disease.
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)
This is a highly contagious, but generally mild disease that can be caused by a range of infectious agents, including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus-2 and bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. It starts with an inflammation of the throat but it can progress to the lungs and can be more serious in young or old dogs. The main symptom is a dry, harsh, non-productive cough, which can be followed by retching or gagging. This dog vaccine is given directly into the nose and most reputable kennels insist on this vaccine before they’ll accept your dog.
Rabies is a very serious and fatal disease that, thankfully, isn’t currently seen in the UK. To keep it that way, it’s compulsory to have this vaccination if you want to travel with your dog outside the UK.
Coronavirus causes diarrhoea in dogs, particularly puppies and young dogs. You may find that this vaccine is included in combination vaccinations. Your vet will be able to tell you more.
Non-UK dog vaccines
Other dog vaccinations are given in other countries to protect against Giardia spp, periodontal disease and even Rattlesnake venom. However, these are not licenced in the UK.
Speak to your vet about which vaccines your dog could have and remember, if your dog needs to stay in kennels, or you’re considering taking your dog abroad, make sure you do your homework well in advance so you’ve taken care of any necessary requirements.