Vaccination is an important part of caring for your dog, and should be carried out yearly for life. Your puppy has immunity from his mother for the first few weeks of life, but after that, immunity needs to be boosted by means of an initial course of two injections followed by yearly boosters. Vaccines stimulate your dog's immune system to produce antibodies which protect against disease.
Dogs are usually vaccinated against the most common serious infectious diseases including Parvovirus, Distemper, Infectious Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Infectious Tracheobronchitis (commonly known as Kennel Cough). If your dog is travelling abroad, you may also need a rabies vaccine (see our Links section for a link to the Pet Travel Scheme which has more details).
Parvovirus is a very contagious, debilitating and widespread disease. It is spread through infected faeces and his highly resistant, remaining in the environment for many months. Symptoms include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. This disease can be fatal, especially in young puppies and elderly dogs.
Vaccination is essential against this often fatal, hard to treat disease. Thanks to vaccination, this disease is now rare in the UK, but is still widespread in some parts of the world. Highly contagious, it is spread by discharge from the nose and eyes of infected dogs. Symptoms include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Convulsions and paralysis may occur in the final stages of the disease. This disease is sometimes called 'hardpad' because the footpads become thickened and fissured as the infection progesses. The virus attacks many organs including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged even if the dog survives.
This disease is caused by the adenovirus and is transmitted by contact with saliva, urine or faeces. This virus commonly attacks the liver, and also potentially causes eye damage. This disease can range from mild to severe and vaccination remains the best protection.
This bacteria is widespread in rats and is spread through contact with their urine. This bacteria can survive in damp conditions and can get into watercourses, ponds and lakes. The course of the disease can be so sudden that there is little chance of effective antibiotic therapy. Dogs affected with this disease can suffer liver and kidney damage that will need a long period of treatment if they are to fully recover. Lower grade disease can go undetected, and as this disease is transmittable to humans and can prove fatal, annual vaccination against this disease is highly advisable.
INFECTIOUS BRONCHITIS (KENNEL COUGH)
This infection is easily transmitted between dogs in a similar fashion to human respiratory disease, so dogs are at risk whenever they come into contact with other dogs. The name Kennel Cough is misleading because dogs can become infected through obedience training, the groomers, or even just playing in the park. The disease is caused by various airborne bacteria and causes a dry, hacking cough which sounds as though your dog has something caught in his throat. Vaccination for infectious bronchitis is via a separate, intranasal spray.