Dog Vaccinations

Why vaccinate? 

There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect dogs. There is no treatment for many of these diseases and young puppies that catch them can become seriously ill and unfortunately the disease can prove fatal. Thankfully many of these diseases can be avoided with the simple protection provided by vaccination.

Ensuring that your dog completes an initial course of vaccinations and then receives annual booster jabs is important if you want to keep your dog fit and healthy.

Fortunately, vaccination has significantly reduced the incidence of disease outbreaks in recent years. However, a rise in the wild fox population means that there is an ever present reservoir of infection.

There are a group of diseases that all pets are at risk of catching and at Links Vet Group we recommend that all pets are vaccinated against these. Other vaccinations are only recommended for at-risk groups.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?

1st Vaccinations:  8 weeks
2nd Vaccinations:   12 weeks
Booster:   Every 12 months

Until the age of 7-8 weeks puppies are protected with antibodies from their mother’s milk. These antibodies prevent vaccinations from working and there is no point in vaccinating before this age.

  • Puppies need a course of two vaccinations to be fully protected.
  • Puppies should not mix with other dogs until at least 1 week after receiving its injections unless you can be sure that the other dogs have been fully vaccinated and are free of disease.
  • Regular booster vaccination is recommended each year to ensure that your dog is fully protected and to help keep him fit and healthy.

Kennels will usually insist on seeing proof of regular vaccinations before looking after your dog.

How often are vaccinations repeated?

  • The protection that vaccinations give reduces over time and therefore booster vaccinations are required every year to ensure that your pet continues to be protected. Some diseases require less frequent vaccination and these are given every 3 years.
  • If your dog misses his annual booster by more than 6 months his immunity will be so low that a full course of two vaccinations is required again, the same as when he was a puppy.

Which diseases are routinely vaccinated against?

  1. Parvovirus:
  • Parvovirus develops very quickly and in many cases can be fatal
  • It’s highly contagious and is transmitted via dog faeces and direct contact with infected dogs
  • It can be carried around on people's shoes and get into homes where it can stay infectious for several months
  • There is no specific cure for parvovirus, which causes severe diarrhoea and can lead to heart disease
  • It can be devastating to entire litters of pups, but can also be spread to older dogs
  • It rapidly leads to septicaemia and death in around 80% of infected dogs
  • Foxes are carriers both in town and country


  1. Leptospirosis: 
  • This bacterial infection is usually spread from drinking contaminated water
  • Affected animals can develop severe liver and kidney problems
  • This disease is contracted from the urine of rats and other infected mammals often from contaminated canals and rivers and is widespread in the UK
  • Humans can also become infected (Weil's disease)
  1. Infectious Canine Hepatitis:
  • Thankfully this disease has become rare due to vaccination of dogs across the UK but still exists
  • It causes severe liver infections which leads to lifelong liver problems and can be fatal


  1. Infectious Bronchitis – also known as Kennel Cough:
  • This is a very unpleasant 'whooping cough' like infection
  • It is transmitted from dog to dog not only in kennels but anywhere that dogs come together such as parks, on walks, dog shows, etc.
  • It can be life threatening in puppies and can be very problematic in dogs with underlying heart and lung disorders
  • Videos available online are very informative about this disease though they can be distressing to watch:

The Signs to Look Out For

Serious infectious diseases need urgent attention as they can progress very quickly and unfortunately in the worst cases they can be fatal. If you are concerned at all about your pet’s health call any of our surgeries.


The main symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Putrid bloody diarrhoea
  • Severe lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • High fever

Infectious Bronchitis (Kennel Cough): 

  • Cough that sounds like something is stuck in the throat
  • Affected dogs often cough until they retch

Viral Hepatitis: 

This is a serious disease with signs ranging from:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloody or bright yellow urine

Infected patients can suffer blood clotting problems with spontaneous bleeding in the mouth and eyes, with the eyes sometimes turning a cloudy blue.


This is a severe and usually fatal disease which has thankfully become very rare in the UK due to vaccination of dogs.


  • It often starts as a cough with runny eyes and nose.
  • The virus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and also aggressive respiratory disease
  • The pads of the feet in affected dogs thicken dramatically


Are there any side effects?

Very occasionally a dog can seem 'off colour' for a day or two after its vaccination and the injection site may also become a little tender and swollen. If these effects do not wear off we recommend that you bring your dog in for an appointment with one of our vets.
If you are concerned about any symptoms in your dog do not hesitate to contact your vet for
reassurance or advice.

Infectious disease may not seem very common in dogs because most dogs are protected by vaccination. Your dog must receive regular vaccinations to be fully protected against these diseases.

Speak with one of our vets to discuss the vaccination programme that is right for your dog.  As part of the vaccination booster appointment your dog will also receive a Free Health Check. This is a thorough clinical nose to tail examination.