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Health & care

So what's the deal with puppy vaccinations?

Date updated: 20 09 2018

As a responsible pet parent, you’d do all it takes to keep your buddy happy, healthy and safe. So when your new puppy arrives, vaccination should be top of your to-do list.

Dogs are happiest when they’re running around outside, playing and exploring. But there are invisible nasties out there, ready to do your buddy harm - and vaccinations provide effective protection against many of the more serious conditions. So looking out for your buddy and keeping up with his jabs go hand in hand…

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So, why vaccinate?
Vaccinations give your buddy’s natural immune system the layer of protection it needs to deal with certain illnesses - usually viruses.

All vaccinations work in a similar way. Your dog is exposed to a safe form of a particular disease. If they come into contact with the disease later on, they can fight it off. With most jabs, booster shots are needed as your buddy gets older to keep up that essential level of protection.

What do vaccinations protect against?

  • Your vet will advise on exactly which shots your dog should have. Typically though, a canine vaccination programme will include protection against the following…
  • Distemper. A serious airborne virus spread between dogs. Usually starts as a cough and discharge and progresses through to neurological damage - including severe convulsions. Unfortunately, it’s fatal in many cases.
  • Infectious Hepatitis. This virus leads almost inevitably to fatal liver failure.
  • Parvovirus. This tends to lead to a life-threatening episode of vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of consciousness. It’s fatal in many cases - especially in young pups.
  • Leptospirosis. This disease is caused by a bacteria found in water contaminated by rat urine. It can be responsible for massive internal bleeding, liver failure, jaundice and death. It can also be transmitted to people.
  • Kennel Cough. A collective grouping of viruses and bacteria that lead to an often-severe respiratory tract infection. It’s especially common in multi-animal households and can also be spread between cats and dogs.
  • Rabies. The rabies vaccine is a legal requirement if you’re planning to travel abroad with your buddy.

When should my pup be vaccinated?
Vets recommend puppies get their first vaccination course at between eight and ten weeks (just after they’re weaned). This is done in two stages, two weeks apart.
For many young pups, this is around the same time that they’re moving on to their new home. So when your new buddy arrives, it’s important to find out where they’re at with their shots - including what they’ve had already (and who administered it), what’s still outstanding and when the first round of boosters are due. Responsible breeders should have full records on all of this.
For a slightly older dog where the medical history is unknown, the vaccination programme can start at any age.
Who can vaccinate my pup?
It should be a vet. If your dog is unwell at the time of the vaccination, it can stop that vaccine from working properly. A vet will give your buddy a clinical examination beforehand. If something’s not right, it can be dealt with before the jabs are given.

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What’s the deal with booster vaccinations?
All vaccinations wear off over time, and boosters are needed basically to make sure that your buddy’s protection levels are tip-top. Vaccinations for different diseases wear off at different rates; e.g. some need a boost every 12 months, others, every three years. Your vet will keep you updated on what’s needed and when. 

How much does a course of puppy vaccinations cost?
It varies depending on where you live. Typically though, it’s between £30 and £60.

So does it hurt? And are there any side effects?
The kennel cough vaccine is given as nose drops. All other vaccines are administered through injections. Remember that vets and vet nurses are totally used to this sort of thing - so your best buddy’s in the safest possible hands.

There might be some slight tenderness at the injection site and your pup might seem a bit off-colour for a day or two after. All of this is normal while your dog’s immune system carries prepares itself for fighting off the real deal.

Serious complications caused by vaccination are extremely rare. There’s a much bigger risk in leaving your pet vulnerable to serious and often fatal diseases that could so easily be prevented. Vaccinating your pup makes perfect sense!

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