Samoyed dog getting a vaccine

Without vaccinations, your dog could become very ill.

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How often are dog vaccinations given in the UK?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Do you know what shots your dog needs? And when your pet needs them? And why? We'll inject your brain with all the key vaccination answers here...

In the UK, adult dog booster vaccinations are given annually once your pet has had their primary course as a puppy.

Certain vaccinations, such as rabies for pet travel, are not given yearly, but the vet will be able to advise you how frequently they need to be given.

How often do you need to vaccinate your dog?

To keep your dog up-to-date with their vaccinations and so that they don't become ill, they will need a trip to the vets every 12 months to receive their yearly boosters.

Is it necessary to vaccinate dogs every year?

Yes, your dog will need a booster for most of their vaccinations yearly. This is because the vaccinations are licensed to be given at this frequency in order to increase your dog’s immune protection against the diseases. If your dog’s booster vaccine is over-due, it might be necessary to repeat the primary course. Restarting dog vaccinations means your dog will need to have two vaccines two to four weeks apart and will then be able to continue with the annual schedule. Some of your dog’s vaccines may not be given every year – such as rabies vaccines, if your dog needs this in order to travel.

Do dogs need yearly vaccinations in the UK?

The usual dog vaccination protocol in the United Kingdom is to give yearly boosters. Dogs need these to make sure that their protection is up-to-date. Despite this, you are not under legal obligation to do so.

What shots should dogs get yearly?

Your dog will need an annual booster that covers parvovirus, canine distemper virus, leptospirosis, adenovirus 1 and 2. The vaccine for kennel cough is also given annually.

At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog?

You should keep your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date throughout life, so there is no recommended age to stop. In fact, older dogs may be at a greater risk of certain diseases, especially if their immune system is weakened.

How many vaccines does a dog need?

Dogs need their puppy vaccinations at around eight weeks of age, with a second injection at 10 to 12 weeks. They should then keep up-to-date with yearly boosters. Your dog may also need to be vaccinated against kennel cough. This vaccine is given by squirting a small amount of vaccination liquid up their nose. If your dog is going to travel, they must be up-to-date with their vaccinations and will also require a rabies jab. You should speak to a vet in advance, ideally a few months before travel to give enough time to make arrangements.

Do indoor dogs need vaccinations?

Yes, they do. Virus and bacteria can be transported on a person’s hands, shoes and clothes. This means that an indoor dog is still at risk of being exposed to diseases and should be vaccinated, regardless of whether they come into contact with other dogs or not.

What can happen if you don't get your dog vaccinated?

If a dog is not vaccinated, they are at high risk of contracting the diseases that would normally be covered by the puppy vaccines and boosters. This includes parvovirus, which is often fatal.

Can you get in trouble for not vaccinating your dog?

You are not obliged to get your dog vaccinated unless they are travelling. If you are moving your dog between countries, it would be illegal not to have the appropriate vaccinations, such as rabies. You should discuss these requirements with a vet.

Why shouldn't you vaccinate your dog?

Some people argue that you shouldn’t vaccinate your dog, but this goes against veterinary advice. Many of the arguments against vaccination transfer across from human medicine and include concerns about changes in behaviour, but there is no or very little evidence to support these claims compared with the large number of scientific work that shows the benefits of vaccinations.

It might alleviate your concerns to know that the vaccination is actually just triggering a natural process within your pet's body. The vaccine will be delivering a very small quantity of a virus or bacteria, which will have been altered so as to not cause disease in your pet, but will stimulate the body’s natural immune system response. Your pet will then have immune cells ready to fight off disease, if they become infected with the real thing.

Your pet may experience side effects due to the vaccinations, yet these are very rarely serious. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) monitor this and they report very low rates of adverse reactions, including those considered to be minor. If you are worried that your pet has reacted to their vaccination, you should contact a vet.

Can I vaccinate my dog myself?

You cannot vaccinate your dog yourself. It is essential for a vet to give a dog a health check prior to vaccination, as it may be less effective when given to a pet who is unwell.

Where are dog vaccines injected?

Normally the vaccinations are injected into the scruff of the neck, underneath the skin. Some vaccinations differ from this. For example, the kennel cough vaccine is not actually an injection and is intranasal (given up the nose).

How much do dog vaccinations cost in the UK?

Dog vaccination prices in the UK can vary and so you should contact the nearest practice for a puppy vaccinations price list or to enquire about the cost of a booster.

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