Pet vaccinations

Find out more about common vaccines for dogs, cats and rabbits, what it costs and what it means for your insurance.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 23 February 2022  | 4 min read

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Key points

  • The cost of vaccinating your pet isn’t covered by pet insurance
  • Keeping vaccinations up to date can make you eligible for cheaper premiums
  • Failing to vaccinate your pet usually means you won’t be able to claim on your insurance for any related illnesses they might get

Vaccinations protect your pet against the most common illnesses and diseases but they're not usually covered by pet insurance. Most pets get vaccinated young and have annual boosters to top-up their immunity. 

Some diseases your pet's vaccinated against are rare in the UK. But if the number of vaccinated pets dropped, the risk of an outbreak increases. 

Thanks to some great pet vaccinations research from Bought By Many, read on to find out how much it might cost to vaccinate your beloved cat or dog. 

Does pet insurance cover vaccinations?

Vaccinations are not covered by pet insurance. Neither is spaying or neutering. But, having all your animal’s vaccinations up to date could mean lower insurance premiums.

Plus, if you don’t vaccinate your pet, and they get ill with a disease that could’ve been prevented with a vaccine, it’s unlikely your insurer will cover treatment costs.

When should my pet be vaccinated?

Most pets should have their first vaccinations between five and 10 weeks old – for the first few weeks they’re protected by their mother's milk. Your pet will then need booster injections every year or so, depending on the vaccination. 

If you’re not sure whether your pet has had its vaccinations, your vet should be  able to help you. 

Is a vaccination guaranteed to protect my pet?

For the most part there is strong evidence that vaccines will protect your pet. It’s rare, but possible, for some pets to still get ill with a disease they’ve been vaccinated against. Vaccinations aren't 100% effective and some pets still get ill even after immunisation. But vaccinations do reduce the risk of this happening .

Puppy vaccinations

Your puppy should get their first vaccinations when they’re between eight and 10 weeks old. They’ll get a second dose two to four weeks later. Most vaccines are an injection in the scruff of the neck, but for kennel cough it’s nasal drops.

Dogs usually get vaccines for: 

Canine parvovirus

This affects the intestine and is contagious. Puppies between six and 20 weeks are most at risk. Symptoms include sickness, diarrhoea and dehydration. It can be fatal, particularly in very young puppies.


This is a bacterial infection passed on in infected urine and contaminated water. Leptospirosis causes lethargy, sickness and infections of vital organs such as the kidneys. It has the potential to cause permanent damage or death.

Canine distemper

This is an infectious viral disease affecting dogs of all ages. Symptoms include fever, coughing and a discharge from the eyes and mouth. It can be fatal, and animals that recover can suffer from neurological problems later on.

Kennel cough

Kennel cough is rarely fatal but is unpleasant for your dog. A vaccination against it is usually required before your dog can stay in a kennel.

Vaccinations usually take effect after a week or two after the second inoculation. Your puppy can then come into contact with other dogs.

How much does it cost to vaccinate my puppy?

According to research by Bought By Many, it costs £78 on average for your puppy’s primary set of vaccinations (both the first and second doses), including the one for kennel cough. 

Dog vaccinations

As your dog grows, it’ll need yearly booster vaccinations to stay protected. The average cost for these booster jabs – including the one for kennel cough – is £64.

Scotland and Wales had some of the most expensive booster costs, but the most expensive place was in England (Berkshire, to be precise) with the average cost around £64.09. The cheapest place to get your dog’s annual top up was Derbyshire, only costing around £29.67 on average. 

If your dog misses their yearly boosters, you’ll probably have to start them on their primary vaccines again.

Kitten vaccinations

Kittens need their first set of vaccinations at around nine weeks old and a second set at three months old. 

Cats usually get vaccines for:

Feline parvovirus (FPV)

Also known as feline infectious enteritis or cat distemper, this infectious illness can pass from a pregnant cat to her kittens in the womb. This puts them at risk of being born blind, with tremors and poor co-ordination.

Feline calicivirus (FCV) and feline herpesvirus (FHV)

FCV and FHV have symptoms including a fever, lack of appetite, discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing and conjunctivitis.

These are the two most common causes of cat flu. This has the same symptoms as human flu. It's not usually serious for healthy adult cats, but it can be fatal for kittens or older cats. There are different strains of cat flu, and the vaccine is not effective against them all.

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)

This can cause gingivitis, diarrhoea and jaundice. It could then lead to cancers like leukaemia and lymphoma. 'At risk' cats, such as those in multi-cat households, should get immunised against FeLV.

How much does it cost to vaccinate my kitten?

Bought By Many’s research has shown that on average it costs £73 for your kitten’s primary set of vaccinations (both the first and second doses), including the one for feline leukaemia. 

Cat vaccinations

Your cat will need annual booster vaccinations to stay protected throughout its life. The average cost for these booster jabs – including the one for FeLV – is £49.55.

The cost of booster vaccinations is most expensive in Scotland, at  £53.90 on average, followed by Wales at £52.56. England is the cheapest country to get your cat’s top up jabs at £49.03 on average.

Like with dogs, if your cat misses out on their yearly booster, you’ll likely have to pay out for their primary vaccines again.

Rabbit vaccinations

Rabbits need vaccinations too – one when it’s five weeks old and another at 10 weeks.  

Rabbits are usually vaccinated for these illnesses:


Fleas and mosquitoes can spread myxomatosis. It can lead to facial swellings which can cause blindness. There isn't any specific treatment and myxomatosis is fatal in most cases.

Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease (R(V)HD)

This is also usually fatal and causes fever, internal bleeding and liver disease. As with myxomatosis, no treatment is available, so vaccination is the best protection.

There’s a combined vaccination against myxomatosis and R(V)HD.

Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (R(V)HD2)

This is a new strain of R(V)HD. It has a lower mortality rate, but it’s rarely caught early because there are few early signs and symptoms.

Should my pet have all the vaccinations available?

To protect your pet, they should have the core recommended injections. Extra vaccinations are available in areas where other diseases are a risk – your local vet will let you know if these are recommended too.

Is vaccinating my pet dangerous?

Vaccinations help protect your pet from serious and usually fatal diseases. They’re not entirely risk-free, but reactions are very rare. When they do happen, they're usually mild. For example,  your pet might be lethargic or feverish. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

Can I get help with the cost of my pet’s vaccinations?

You might be able to get help from an animal charity if you're retired, on a low income or get certain benefits. 

Charities offering help include:

  • PDSA
  • Blue Cross
  • Dogs Trust
  • Cats Protection

Some vet practices allow you to pay for vaccines in instalments to spread the cost or offer reduced cost payment plans for a lifetime vaccination courses. 

Vaccinations for older pets

It’s important to keep your pet’s vaccinations topped up so they’re protected throughout their lives.

If you’re taking in an older pet, ask the previous owner or adoption centre about its vaccination history and make sure you get a copy of their medical records to share with your vet.

Pet insurance for older animals or pets with pre-existing medical conditions can be expensive, so consider the affordability of a policy before taking  out cover. 

Some pet insurance policies only contribute towards vet fees, so you could end up paying most of the treatment costs yourself, so shop around and compare pet insurance to find a policy to suit your needs. 

Make sure the policy offers enough vet fees cover – treatments can get expensive, especially for older animals or those with existing medical conditions. 

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