Thankfully, vaccinations are available for a number of life-threatening diseases which affect dogs such as parvovirus, leptospirosis and distemper. Having your dog regularly vaccinated gives good protection against these diseases, and also helps to reduce the spread amongst the dog population.
Similar to human flu, the infectious agents which cause Kennel Cough are constantly changing, so although vaccines are available, their efficacy is a little more variable, but they can still be very useful for reduction in symptoms and spread of disease.
Puppies should receive at least two vaccinations, getting their first from six weeks of age. They should receive a second vaccine two to four weeks later, depending on the puppy’s age and the vaccine brand. Full protection follows a few weeks after the final vaccination, depending on the brand. Some puppies receive a third vaccination, dependant on risk.
The vaccine contains a weak dose of the disease we are protecting against, and this stimulates the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies which can fight the infection should they become exposed to it at a later stage.
If your dog is unwell, has been recently unwell or unusually quiet when they are due to have their vaccinations, make sure that you tell your vet, as they may decide to temporarily postpone your dog's vaccinations.
Vaccines are given in different ways; most are given as an injection under the skin, however some kennel cough vaccines are given as drops into the nose or mouth.
Regular ‘booster’ vaccinations are necessary to keep a dog’s immunity levels high enough to protect them against disease throughout their life. Your vet will advise you on how often your pet needs to be vaccinated.
Vaccinations (and parasite treatment) are often mandatory for your dog for international travel, as well as for certain environments such as kennels. Vaccination against Rabies is required for international travel – this is not normally given to dogs unless specifically requested. It is important to research this well in advance.
If you’re adopting from Dogs Trust, your puppy will already have had their first set of vaccinations. If you are attending your own vet for the second vaccination please show them the puppy's paperwork. This is so they can check that they stock a compatible vaccine.
Until your puppy’s vaccinations have taken effect, you won’t be able to take them for walks outside. You should also keep them away from lakes, rivers and stagnant water.
Your vet can talk you through the vaccinations available and the recommended protocol for your dog. They can also advise you on the common side-effects to look out for following vaccination (usually very mild), and any limitations or safety considerations which may apply for you and/or your dog. To help you budget, you can check the costs of puppy vaccinations with your local vet before starting your search for a dog.
Not all illnesses are covered by vaccinations, so you should contact your vet immediately if your dog becomes unwell- vaccinated or not.