Understanding the Importance of Vaccinating Your Dog

Do you know how often your dog should be vaccinated and why? It's easy to put off a trip to the vet surgery for booster shots or lose track of your dog's vaccination schedule, but the illnesses these vaccinations protect your dog from can cause them severe pain and even take their life.

Puppies should be vaccinated when they are 6-8 weeks old, with a follow-up vaccination being administered at 12 weeks old. All dogs should then be vaccinated annually to ensure they remain protected from the serious illnesses covered by dog vaccinations. Here's an overview of four of those illnesses:


Distemper is a viral illness that's spread through the air and by contact with infected animals. There is no cure for distemper, which attacks the lymph nodes, nervous system, respiratory system, and gastrointestinal system. Early signs of this highly contagious illness include red eyes, lethargy and vomiting, but symptoms quickly progress to include seizures and paralysis and distemper can result in death.

Treatment is centred on keeping your dog as comfortable as possible, so they may be given intravenous fluids to treat dehydration and drugs to control seizures. Dogs with fully developed immune systems have a better chance of survival, but distemper is often fatal for puppies.

Infectious Hepatitis

This is a hardy virus that's spread through contact with urine, faeces and saliva from infected dogs. Infectious hepatitis attacks the liver, lungs and kidneys and is often fatal. Symptoms of this painful illness include swelling of the abdomen, fever, jaundice, increased thirst, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Treatment includes antibiotics, pain medication and blood transfusions, but survival depends on how quickly the condition was addressed and the strength of the dog's immune system.


This is a highly contagious virus that's spread through contact with an infected dog's faeces. The virus can live on inanimate objects for months, so it's easily caught just from walking along the street. Parvovirus attacks the white blood cells and gastrointestinal system, resulting in severe vomiting, dehydration, bloody diarrhoea, and sometimes death, which can occur due to intestinal haemorrhaging. There's no cure for parvovirus, but anti-sickness medication and intravenous fluids can be administered.

Kennel Cough

Dogs can contract kennel cough by breathing in bacteria when socialising with infected dogs. The bacteria attack their respiratory system and cause inflammation. The main symptom of this illness is a persistent hacking cough, but infected dogs can also experience eye discharge, a runny nose and post-nasal drip. Kennel cough can be treated with antibiotics, but persistent cases can lead to pneumonia.

Keeping up-to-date with your dog's vaccination schedule will prevent them experiencing the pain of these illnesses and prevent you experiencing the pain of losing a beloved four-legged family member, so schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if your dog's vaccinations are overdue.