Puppy vaccinations

Vaccinations protect your puppy against diseases and help it to grow up strong and healthy. Read on to find out everything you need to know about vaccinating your pup.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 11 July 2022  | 4 mins read

Key points

  • Vaccinating your puppy can protect it against deadly diseases and help it to lead a long and happy life
  • Puppy vaccines are given in two sets, one between eight and 10 weeks old, with a second dose up to four weeks later
  • Avoid letting your puppy near other dogs and public outdoor areas until they’re fully vaccinated
  • Keeping vaccinations up to date can extend your pup's immunity, as well as lowering insurance premiums

When should puppies be vaccinated?

Typically, puppies should be vaccinated between eight and ten weeks old. Sometimes vaccines are given earlier than this to puppies as young as six weeks old.

They’ll then need their second dose around two to four weeks later.

Your pooch will then need an annual vaccine booster every year of their life.

What vaccines do puppies need?

The vaccinations your puppy’s given will help to protect it against some of the most dangerous infectious diseases.

  1. Canine parvovirus (CPV)

    Puppies aged six weeks to six months are particularly vulnerable to this highly infectious disease. It attacks the intestines and can cause the puppy to go downhill quickly

  2. Distemper

    This very contagious viral disease is particularly severe in puppies. It affects the nervous system, as well as several organs and can be fatal

  3. Infectious canine hepatitis

    This disease is caught from infected dogs or somewhere where an infected dog has been. There are two strains of the virus, one causes a respiratory infection and the other an infection of the liver. Deaths can occur but most dogs recover

  4. Leptospirosis

    Spread by infected dogs, vermin, and cows, this unpleasant disease can also be caught from infected water. It causes serious illness by damaging vital organs and can leave lasting damage. In severe cases, it can cause death

  5. Canine parainfluenza

    This is an airborne respiratory infection. It’s not usually serious but younger puppies can be very unwell if they catch it, so vaccination is important

Who can vaccinate a puppy?

Once you get your puppy you need to register it with a local vet practice, and they’ll advise you on the vaccinations it needs.

The first course of vaccinations will need to be done by a vet. They’ll also need to give your puppy a health check before they can administer them.

The second course of vaccinations can either be done by a qualified veterinary nurse or a vet.

What happens at puppy vaccination appointments?

When you bring your puppy in for its vaccinations, your vet will weigh the puppy and give it a full health check to make sure it’s well enough to have the injections.

This usually involves:

  • Looking at their skin and coat
  • Examining their eyes, ears and teeth
  • Listening to their heartbeat
  • Taking their temperature

The vaccines your puppy needs are usually combined into one injection. This is given into a fold of skin at the back of the puppy’s neck. If you opt for the kennel cough vaccination, it will be administered by nasal spray.

Many vet practices will give you a vaccination record card which you should bring along to every vaccination appointment.

It’s worth keeping this up to date as some puppy training classes and boarding kennels will ask to see the vaccination card before they’ll accept your dog.

Make sure you keep your puppy on your lap in the waiting room to avoid them mixing with other dogs or touching something another dog has.

Will my puppy be unwell after its vaccinations?

Your puppy may not react or even seem to notice when they’re being given a vaccination, and most don’t experience any side effects afterwards.

However, because the vaccination stimulates the immune system it can sometimes trigger a mild fever in your pup.

This might make them a bit more lethargic, but this doesn’t usually last for more than 24 hours. There might also be a slight swelling at the injection site.

Serious side effects are very rare, but if you have any concerns about your puppy after a vaccination always contact your vet.

How much do puppy vaccines cost?

The cost will vary depending on the vaccinations your puppy’s given and your vet practice. But you can expect to pay between £50 and £80 each for the first and second set.

After their vaccinations your dog will need to have an annual booster - this can cost around £40-£70.

Remember that getting your puppy vaccinated will cost far less than treating the diseases and will save your puppy from being in pain and discomfort, or worse.

Does pet insurance cover puppy vaccinations?

No, your pet insurance won’t cover any vaccinations. Plus, if you don’t get your puppy vaccinated, any claims you make if your pup becomes ill may be rejected.

On the other hand, getting your puppy fully vaccinated might help lower your insurance premiums and, most importantly, save your dog from becoming very unwell.

How long are vaccinations effective?

Different vaccines last for different lengths of time. Some provide your puppy with long-lasting immunity, but others will need to be vaccinated annually.

Generally, the leptospirosis vaccine is effective for about a year. Distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis vaccines last for around three years.

If you’re not sure when the next vaccination is due, check with your vet.

However, if more than 12 months pass between annual boosters, your dog may have to start their primary course of vaccinations again.

What about rescue puppies?

If you rehome or adopt a puppy from a rescue centre, they’ll usually have been given their vaccinations before they come to you. The cost of this is typically covered as part of the adoption fee.

However, some puppies are adopted before they’ve had their second set of vaccinations, so it’s always best to check and ask for any vaccination documentation, like a record card.

Once you’ve got your rescue puppy home, you’ll still need to register them with a vet to take care of their ongoing vaccinations.

How soon can you walk a puppy after vaccinations?

Vets generally recommend that you don’t take your puppy for a walk until around two weeks after it’s had its second set of vaccinations.

Before then, it’s best to keep them occupied by playing in your home and any private outside space you have.

Until your puppy’s fully vaccinated, you shouldn’t let it socialise with other dogs or take it to parks where your pup might pick up diseases from infected dogs, animals, grass and water.

And you should avoid places near rivers and farms for a while longer, until around one month after your puppy’s final vaccination.