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Dog Vaccinations

Vaccinating your dog at Richmond House Vets

Dog and Puppy Vaccinations

Why have your dog vaccinated?

Without proper vaccination, your dog runs the risk of contracting one of several possibly fatal infectious diseases, including Parvovirus and Distemper as well as Hepatitis and Leptospirosis

In addition, vaccines are also available to protect against Parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica, which are the most common and serious causes of a nasty and persistent infectious cough often colloquially named “Kennel Cough”.

What is immunity?

If an animal (or person) is immune to a particular disease it means that there is little to no risk of falling ill to that disease. Immunity in an adult dog may be as a result of either regular vaccination or the dog having suffered (and survived) the disease.

Puppies are usually protected for the first few weeks of life by the immunity passed in their mother’s first milk, provided that the mother is also immune. However, with time the immunity falls leaving the puppies susceptible to infectious diseases.

  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis
  • Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis
  • Leptospirosis

Canine Distemper

Whilst vaccination has resulted in a decrease in the incidence of this disease in recent years, many pockets of infection still exist, particularly in large cities, which result in regular local outbreaks. The main source of infection is through inhalation during close dog to dog contact and signs may take up to three weeks to appear. Dogs less than one year of age are most commonly affected.

Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Runny Nose and Eyes
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Thickening of pads
  • Nervous signs such as twitching, paralysis or fits

Dogs that survive may suffer from deformed teeth or even develop nervous signs later in life.

Treatment of canine distemper is often unsuccessful – vaccination is the best form of protection.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus is an extremely hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods of time. First emerging in the 1970s as an epidemic, the disease killed many thousands of dogs before effective vaccination became available. The main source of infection is the faeces of infected dogs, but the virus can also be spread on shoes and clothing and on the coat and pads of dogs.

The disease was originally seen in two forms: heart disease (in young puppies) and enteritis. Now, heart disease is rarely seen, as most young puppies are protected by virtue of immunity passed in their mother’s first milk. Enteritis is seen in any age of dog from about four weeks of age, but most commonly in dogs less than one-year-old.

Signs and symptoms appear quickly and include:

  • Depression
  • Severe vomiting
  • Refusal of food and water
  • Abdominal pain
  • Profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea

Although no longer present in epidemic proportions due to successful vaccination “Parvo” is still commonly seen in unvaccinated dogs.

Vaccination and follow up boosters are vital to protecting against this disease.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Canine Hepatitis, including Canine Adenovirus & Canine Viral Hepatitis mainly attacks the liver and can rapidly be fatal. Transmission is by close dog to dog contact; dogs recovering from the disease may be a source of infection for more than 6 months. Dogs are most commonly affected in the first year of life, but all ages are susceptible.

Signs and Symptoms Include:

  • General discomfort
  • Lack of appetite
  • Very high temperature
  • Pale gums
  • Conjunctiva
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • In some dogs that recover, a clouding of the cornea, known as “blue eye” occurs, which will usually resolve.

Canine Adenovirus type 2 vaccines provide good immunity against Infectious Canine Hepatitis and one of the components of “Kennel Cough” syndrome.

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, or Kennel Cough, is is an infectious disease that can be picked up when dogs are brought together, especially in large numbers and in an indoor environment. Kennel Cough represents a serious problem for kennels and, as a result, more and more are insisting on full vaccination cover for all dogs in their care. It can mean coming home to a distressed dog, whose coughing will undo all the good of your relaxing holiday.

Although there are other organisms which can cause an infectious cough, infection with Bordetella bronchiseptica can lead to a persistent hacking cough that can last for up to several weeks and infected dogs can remain infectious for up to 3 months. Dogs can pick up Bordetella anywhere, not just in kennels. The infection spreads from dog to dog through the air and dogs are just as likely to catch an infectious cough at shows, training classes or wherever dogs mix.

Fortunately your dog can be given a vaccine which provides solid protection against Bordetella infection and Parainfluenza virus (the next most common cause of infectious coughs).

This can be given on its own or at the same time as your dog’s annual booster against Distemper, Viral Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Parvovirus.

The vaccine is given as nose drops and is effective in as little as three days, although the best time to have this vaccination is two weeks before your dog goes into kennels or to a show. The protection lasts for 12 months.


Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread in the urine of infected animals. It can spread to humans by skin contact with infected urine. Two forms of disease are seen:

  • Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae (Weil’s disease) - Contracted from rats, most commonly via contact with infected urine or rat-infested water. The liver is the main organ affected, although the kidneys may be involved. Signs are usually a high temperature, severe thirst, lethargy, increased urination, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. Death can occur in a few hours in severe cases.

  • Leptospira canicola - Contracted from the infected urine of other dogs. Milder signs are often seen with the kidneys being the main organs affected; jaundice is seen less often and is less severe. However, damage to the kidneys may cause problems later in life. Dogs that recover can excrete the bacteria in their urine for up to a year and thus, be a source of infection.

Annual vaccinations against leptospirosis are vital to protect your dog and prevent it becoming a source of infection to humans.

When should your dog be vaccinated?

Primary Vaccination

Puppies which have never been vaccinated before will require a primary vaccination course which consists of two vaccinations between two and four weeks apart. Puppies may start their vaccination course as early as seven weeks of age, receiving their second vaccination at or after 10 weeks old.

Adult dogs that have not been vaccinated in the last 15 months will require a full vaccination course of two injections – this is often referred to as a restart and the vaccinations are given between two and four weeks apart.

If you acquire or have an older puppy or adult dog that is unvaccinated or has an unknown vaccination history, please book an appointment straight away. This also allows your new dog to have a general check-up.

Remember that the protective effects of vaccination are not immediate and the vet will advise when your puppy may be taken out for walks safely. It is important that your puppy socialises with other dogs and people early in life to avoid behavioural problems later.

Booster Vaccinations

Immunity to these diseases does not last indefinitely and will gradually fall leaving your dog at risk. An annual booster (one injection) is vital to maintaining the immunity which will protect your dog from these infections and provide an opportunity for a health check by one of our vets.

Record of Vaccination

On completion of your dog’s primary course, you will be given a record card providing the vaccination details and advising when the next booster is due. Boarding kennels and training classes will almost certainly require this before accepting your dog. Remember to bring this record card to the surgery each time your dog has vaccinations so that it can be updated.

For further information Contact Us and speak to a member of the team. 

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