Puppy vaccinations - all you need to know

Cathy Toogood
·4-min read

If you’re about to welcome a puppy into your home, you’re likely to be preparing your house and buying essential kit to keep your new four-legged friend happy and healthy.

And, while it may not be as exciting as buying a selection of toys and accessories, planning your puppy’s vaccinations is an essential task as a new pet owner.

Here we detail which puppy vaccinations your dog will need, how much puppy vaccinations will cost, and how they can impact your pet insurance.

Why does my puppy need vaccinations?

Just like humans, puppies can catch a number of diseases that could make them seriously ill. But, the good news is, there are a number of vaccinations available that can protect them against these illnesses by giving them immunity.

Which vaccinations does a puppy need in the UK?

There are four main ‘core’ vaccinations for puppies in the UK:

  • Canine parvovirus Parvovirus (sometimes called parvo or CPV), is very infectious and mainly affects puppies between six weeks and six months old, although older dogs who haven’t been vaccinated can catch it too. The virus attacks the intestines and symptoms include diarrhoea and severe vomiting, which can lead to dehydration.

  • Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) There are two versions of infectious canine hepatitis (also known as canine adenovirus). One can cause respiratory problems (a type of kennel cough) and the other can cause hepatitis, an infection of the liver.

  • Leptospirosis This affects many species, with the two main strains in the UK being carried by dogs and rats. In humans, it can cause Weil’s disease. It’s a bacterial infection that can damage vital organs such as the liver and kidneys.

  • Canine distemper virus Distemper can affect dogs of any age. It attacks a dog’s lymph nodes before attacking other organs. Symptoms can include runny eyes, a cough, a fever, low energy, thickened paw pads, and fits and seizures.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also wish to vaccinate your puppy againstkennel cough and rabies. Talk to your vet about whether they recommend these for your dog.

When should I get my puppy vaccinated?

Usually, puppies are vaccinated at between eight and 10 weeks, with a second dose being given two to four weeks later. Speak to your vet to arrange timings.

Your puppy will also require a booster vaccine at six or 12 months, plus regular annual follow-up injections.

How much do puppy vaccinations cost – and will pet insurance pay?

The price of puppy vaccines in the UK varies, so speak to the vet you register your puppy with for the most accurate costs. The Blue Cross charity estimates that a puppy’s initial set of vaccines should cost between £30 and £60.

Pet insurance won’t usually cover the cost of vaccinations. If you’re struggling financially, the RSPCA or another animal charity may be able to help with financial assistance.Find out more here.

The RSPCA warns against the false economy of skipping vaccinations saying: “the costs are usually far less than treatment for the diseases they prevent - and often a small fraction of the cost of a puppy.”

What happens if I don’t vaccinate my puppy?

If you don’t vaccinate your puppy, you are placing it, and potentially other members of your household, at risk of catching a number of diseases. As well as the emotional impact of your puppy being ill, vets’ bills can be steep if your dog catches an infectious disease.

And, even if you have pet insurance, you are unlikely to be covered for treatment for any of the diseases that your puppy could be vaccinated against under your policy.

Churchill, as an example, excludes “any claim as a result of a condition that a routine vaccination is available for, unless treatment is necessary because the vaccine hasn’t worked. A routine vaccination is any that your vet recommends your pet should have.”

How long after my puppy’s injections is it safe to take it outside?

If your puppy isn’t vaccinated, it could potentially catch an illness from another dog while it is out and about with you. So, you shouldn’t allow your puppy to walk in public outdoor spaces until it’s fully vaccinated, and the course is complete. The RSPCA recommends carrying puppies around to introduce them to new people sights and sounds until then.

But, when your puppy is fully vaccinated, from around 12 weeks onwards depending on your individual timings, you can take it for a walk and socialise it.