Vaccines are extremely important - here’s why
Vaccines protect puppies from diseases that would otherwise kill them.
Diseases such a parvovirus are common in unvaccinated puppies.
Parvovirus is often fatal. It is very expensive to treat and treatment is often unsuccessful.
It is much cheaper to prevent these puppy diseases by vaccination.
Vaccines are very safe. Side effects are rare and tend to be minor.
Why should I vaccinate my dog?
Dogs need vaccinations to protect them from deadly diseases like leptospirosis and parvovirus. Whilst puppy vaccinations are essential, booster vaccinations are also required to boost immunity.
All dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper, and leptospirosis. Vaccination against rabies and kennel cough may also be required.
Puppies should receive their first course of vaccinations between 8 and 12 weeks of age. They are not considered fully protected until 3 weeks after their second vaccination.
Different vaccinations need ‘boosting’ at different intervals, with some requiring yearly re-vaccination.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccination provides the body with a safe sample of a disease so that it can learn the best way to fight it before it meets the real thing.
What diseases do vaccines protect against?
Vets recommend that dogs in the UK are vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and leptospirosis.
Distemper is a serious, often fatal viral disease that attacks the gut, lungs, brain, and nervous system. Thanks to vaccines, it’s rare in the UK, but continued vaccination is essential to prevent a resurgence.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis causes multiple organ disease that can be fatal. It is caught directly from an infected dog or from the environment where an infected dog has been.
Parvovirus remains common in the UK, especially in young dogs. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea that can quickly become fatal.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that attacks the liver and kidneys. Whilst it can be treated with antibiotics in some cases, it’s regularly fatal to dogs. It can also be transmitted to people.
Dogs may also be vaccinated against canine parainfluenza and Bordatella, both of which cause symptoms of ‘kennel cough’. Dogs that travel to other countries may need a rabies vaccine or other vaccines depending on area.
When should puppies get their vaccinations?
Depending on when and what vaccines your puppy has been given by his breeder, he may need vaccinating in the first few days of you owning him. Your vet will be able to recommend a vaccine schedule, but a common schedule in the UK is:
8 weeks – first leptospirosis, distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus vaccine
10-12 weeks – second distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus vaccine
12 weeks – Second leptospirosis vaccine
The best thing to do is to take any information you received from the breeder to your vet, who will be able to work out a schedule for you.
Your puppy isn’t fully protected until three weeks after his second vaccination.
Why does a puppy need several vaccinations?
Antibodies from mum’s milk provide protection to very young pups, but they stop vaccinations from working. The mother’s antibodies wear off at different times in different pups, and there’s no way to tell whether a pup still has them. It is essential that puppies have two vaccines to ensure they are fully protected, as immunity wanes at different times in different puppies. Even if the first vaccine worked, there is no harm in giving a second vaccination.
Why are annual boosters required?
Your dog will then need re-vaccinating yearly. The immunity from a leptospirosis vaccine lasts around a year, so vets recommend that this is repeated annually. Distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus immunity lasts longer, and is usually boosted every third year.
Are there other options instead of vaccination?
Currently, there are no scientifically proven methods of providing immunity other than vaccination. In adult dogs, antibody levels (called ‘titres’) can be tested for some diseases to see or whether the vaccine needs to be repeated yet. However, leptospirosis titre tests are not accurate, so your dog will still need an annual booster.
If you would like to know more about vaccinating your puppy, or your older dog, you can speak to one of our friendly vet team who will be happy to help.