There are 4 core vaccinations for dogs in the UK, core vaccinations are those which all dogs should receive regardless of circumstances or geographical location. These are distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus and leptospirosis.


Distemper is a viral disease and is also known as “hard pad”, as it can lead to hyperkeratosis. It also causes respiratory and neurological clinical signs. Levels of the disease have been low due to introduction of the vaccine in the 1960s, however cases are starting to rise in Europe and the USA, with some cases being seen in the UK.

Hepatitis: (adenovirus)

Hepatitis is inflammation and disease of the liver. The virus can survive for weeks in the environment, but the disease is rare now due to vaccination. Disease is mainly seen in unvaccinated dogs. Clinical signs often seen are pyrexia, depression and lethargy. There is no specific treatment for canine infectious hepatitis.


Canine parvovirus was first recognised in 1978. It is a highly infectious viral disease which invades rapidly dividing cells in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow. It presents as vomiting and diarrhoea, often profusely haemorrhagic, and causes severe dehydration and shock. The disease if often fatal and is, unfortunately, still commonly seen in the UK.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection which causes acute kidney injury and liver disease. Transmission is through direct or indirect contact with urine of infected animals. Waterways and farmland are high risk areas for unvaccinated animals. Clinical signs include pyrexia, haemorrhage, jaundice, and renal failure. Leptospirosis is becoming more common in the UK as a result of incomplete vaccination courses.

Vaccination Schedule:

Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks of age. They usually require two vaccines, 2-4 weeks apart but some vaccine protocols may vary. Onset of full immunity is from 1-3 weeks after the last vaccine, dependant on vaccine brand used. Boosters are recommended annually. We don’t vaccinate against every disease every year, but dogs can lose their immunity to Leptospirosis quickly, so need annual vaccines to ensure continuous immunity.

Non-core vaccinations:

‘Non-core’ vaccinations for dogs include parainfluenza, kennel cough, herpes and rabies. The kennel cough vaccine is given intranasally, and helps to protect against parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica. It requires annual revaccination to maintain some immunity. The rabies vaccine is part of pet travel requirements. Herpes virus vaccine is only used in breeding bitches.

Please call the practice on 01423 900449 to book any vaccinations for your dog. Our vets are always happy to discuss your pet’s vaccine requirements and answer and questions you may have.