What do dog vaccinations protect against?

August 7, 2022

Share this Post

This month is immunisation month, so a great time to learn more about vaccinations and why they are so important for your dog …

Book a dog vaccination

Vaccinations are key to preventing the spread of disease in your pet as well the wider canine population. They improve the immune response of your pet if exposed to a specific disease, decrease the severity of any symptoms and in some instances drastically increase the likelihood of survival.

Core dog vaccines

The core canine vaccinations protects dogs against four harmful diseases. These can persist in the environment for months and spread between healthy dogs. The diseases are:

  • Canine distemper virus – this attacks the brain, lungs & intestines
  • Infectious canine hepatitis – this causes severe liver disease, including jaundice, vomiting & diarrhoea
  • Canine parvovirus – this attacks the bone marrow and the lining of the digestive system, weakens the immune system, and causes bloody vomiting & diarrhea. Puppies can die from dehydration and sepsis (blood poisoning)
  • Leptospirosis – this is transmitted by rat’s urine, and is usually picked up from farms, puddles, or watercourses (so particularly important to vaccinate if your dog is a keen river swimmer.) Leptospirosis causes kidney & liver failure and can be hard to diagnose

Vaccinations for these diseases are usually given once a puppy reaches 8 weeks old. The primary course of vaccination includes 2-3 doses given several weeks apart. If you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder or a rescue centre, always check their vaccination status. Most of the time, your puppy will have received their primary injections before you take them home.

In some circumstances, puppies may need to restart their initial vaccination course. If your puppy’s first vaccine is not compatible with the vaccines stocked at your vet practice, or if the second vaccine is not given in time, the initial course may need to be restarted.

Being immunised gives your pet a high level of protection whilst preventing the spread of infection from animal to animal. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations are highly recommended for optimal ongoing protection. If your dog is more than 3 months late with their annual booster they will need to re-start the primary course of vaccinations for full protection.

Additional dog vaccines

Some other ‘non-core’ vaccines may be available for your dog if they are at risk of being exposed to other diseases. These include:

• Rabies (if travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme)

• Leishmaniasis (if frequently travelling to the EU)

• Borrelia burgdorferi – for Lyme disease (if you live near to or frequently visit tick-infested areas)

Kennel cough

Kennel Cough vaccine is not considered to be a core vaccine, but is recommended if your dog is spending time in kennels and may also be advised if there is a local break out of kennel cough where you exercise your dog. It is a single dose, given annually, and is administered via a spray up the nostrils, protecting dogs against this highly contagious disease. It is best given two weeks before your dog goes into kennels as takes a little while to become fully effective.

Kennel cough doesn’t typically cause serious illness in healthy dogs, but is very contagious, can make your dog feel very uncomfortable, and may expose some dogs to secondary infections.

Book a dog vaccination

It is important to remember that all vaccines on the UK market are meticulously checked for safety, efficacy, and quality; serious adverse reactions to vaccines are rare and the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh this small risk.

If you have any questions or want to book a dog vaccination in Cambridge, get in touch with our team.

Strictly Necessary

These cookies are required for our website to operate and include items such as whether or not to display this pop-up box or your session when logging in to the website. These cookies cannot be disabled.


We use 3rd party services such as Google Analytics to measure the performance of our website. This helps us tailor the site content to our visitors needs.


From time to time, we may use cookies to store key pieces of information to make our site easier for you to use. Examples of this are remembering selected form options to speed up future uses of them. These cookies are not necessary for the site to work, but may enhance the browsing experience.


We may use advertising services that include tracking beacons to allow us to target our visitors with specific adverts on other platforms such as search or social media. These cookies are not required but may improve the services we offer and promote.

Change Settings

Welcome. You can control how we use cookies and 3rd party services below

Change Settings Accept
Learn how we use cookies