Skip to content

Dog vaccinations: Everything you need to know

Kim Staples
Written by  Kim Staples
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 17 Apr 2024

An important part of caring for your pooch is making sure they have all their vaccinations – and that they’re up to date. Let’s see what you need to know.

When does my dog need to be vaccinated?

Your dog needs its first set of vaccinations at around eight weeks old. The next set will usually be about four weeks after that.

Your vet will be able to advise on the exact timings, as it can vary from dog to dog and depend on factors such as when the mother was vaccinated.

If you got your dog from a breeder, they probably had their first set of injections while with the breeder – who should be able to provide you with a vaccination certificate.

Two to four weeks after their vaccinations, your dog will be fully protected. After that, they’ll need an set of boosters every year to keep their immunity topped up.

In certain circumstances – such as if your dog is going abroad, or staying in a kennel for a while – you may need to get them extra vaccinations too.

What do vaccinations protect my dog against?

The four main diseases puppies are vaccinated against are:

  • Canine distemper

  • Hepatitis

  • Parvovirus

  • Leptospirosis

Other optional vaccines, which your vet may recommend in certain circumstances, include:

  • Kennel cough

  • Rabies

  • Adenovirus

What happens at a dog vaccination appointment?

Dog vaccination appointments are fairly straightforward. When you arrive, the vet will give your dog a quick check over, and ask a few questions about their health, behaviour, and medical history.

For the vaccination itself, your dog will need to be held still. Let the vet know beforehand if you don’t feel you can do this.

The vet will give the vaccinations via injection at the scruff of the dog’s neck. It won’t be painful for your pup – at worst, dog injections are a bit uncomfortable and may sting a little.

Kennel cough vaccinations, on the other hand, are given by squirting a liquid up the dog’s nose. Again, it shouldn’t be painful and may just be uncomfortable for them.

How to prepare my dog for their vaccinations

Your vet will be able to advise on any preparation your dog needs before their vaccination appointment, as all dogs are different.

Bring any vaccination records you have – such as any from the breeder or the kennel you got your dog from. It’s a good idea to bring any other relevant medical history records too, especially if your dog has had a poor reaction to a vaccine before.

And pack some small treats – they’re useful as a distraction and a perfect reward for afterwards.

How much do puppy and dog vaccinations cost?

The exact prices of vaccinations can vary depending on your vet, dog, and area, but you can expect to pay around £40-£70 for your puppy’s first round.

Annual boosters cost around £50-£60. They can sometimes be done in conjunction with worming treatments, which can help keep the costs down.

Does pet insurance cover dog vaccinations?

No, not usually. Vaccines are considered a preventative measure, so aren’t generally covered by pet insurance.

However, keeping your dog’s boosters up to date can lead to lower premiums and cheaper dog insurance in the long run.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that if your dog isn’t vaccinated, and contracts an illness that a vaccine could have protected against, your insurance is unlikely to cover the cost of treatment for it.

For more info, see our full guide: Does pet insurance cover vaccinations?

Dog vaccination schemes and financial assistance

If dog vaccinations aren’t in your budget right now, funding for help with vet costs may be available from animal charities. You’ll need to meet certain criteria – usually being on certain benefits and living within the catchment area.

Schemes are available via:

Dog vaccination side effects to look out for

Side effects from vaccinations are rare, but they can happen.

Mild side effects your dog may have include low energy, a decreased appetite, and a fever. These symptoms usually pass in two to three days. Contact your vet if you’re worried, or if they last longer than that.

Serious side effects are even more rare – contact your vet straight away if your dog experiences any. They can include diarrhoea, vomiting, a skin rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

How can I protect my unvaccinated dog?

Whether it’s a puppy who hasn’t had their injections yet, or an older dog overdue their booster, unvaccinated dogs need a little more protection from disease until they can get their jabs.

Unvaccinated puppies

  • Keep them off the ground when outside of your own home/garden – You can still take your puppy to new places, but it’s best to carry them in your arms

  • Don’t allow new dogs into your home

  • Don’t let your dog socialise with unvaccinated dogs, or any dogs whose vaccination status you aren’t sure of

  • It’s okay to let your puppy in the garden, but only if no other dogs (or foxes) have been there recently

Unvaccinated adult dogs

  • Keep them away from other dogs for the time being

  • Avoid walking them in areas where lots of dogs have been – for instance, stick to quiet paths rather than taking them to a busy park

  • Keep them away from places with a high leptospirosis risk, such as ponds, rivers, and farm fields

What is titre testing?

A titre test is a blood test that determines whether your dog has antibodies for a particular disease, and how many. It’s a test used to judge what vaccinations your dog needs, by showing what they may already be immune to.

Titre tests are very useful if you have a rescue dog, haven’t got a record of your dog’s vaccinations, aren’t sure if they’re due their booster yet, or if you’re concerned about things like allergic reactions or over-vaccinating.

Titre tests are available for parvovirus, hepatitis, and distemper, but not for leptospirosis – so vets generally recommend having a yearly leptospirosis booster just to be safe.

Why compare pet insurance with MoneySuperMarket?

Pet insurance can help out with vet costs for your dog - and keeping their vaccinations up to date can mean lower premiums. Compare pet insurance with MoneySuperMarket to find deals from across the market that suit your pooch.

Compare pet insurance now
Get a quote