In the UK we vaccinate dogs against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, leptospirosis and infectious cough.
The first three are viruses passed from infected dogs or foxes.
Parvovirus causes severe and often life threatening diarrhoea particularly in young puppies.
Distemper and Hepatitis are relatively uncommon in the UK however we are starting to see cases as more dogs are imported from abroad, especially from Eastern Europe.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria transmitted via stagnant water contaminated by rat or cow urine.
Infectious Cough or ‘Kennel Cough’ is a highly infectious combination of canine parainfluenza virus and bordetella bacteria transmitted through direct nose to nose contact or by coughing and sneezing. Dogs who go into kennels will need this vaccine and we recommend it for all those who socialise with groups of dogs, for example with dog walkers, at day care and agility classes or showing. The Kennel Cough vaccine is a live vaccine. If there is an immunosuppressed person in your household who the dog is likely to have face-face contact with, you may prefer us not to give this vaccine as there is a very small risk the person could develop flu symptoms.
After the initial puppy course at 8-12 weeks old, the full vaccine is repeated a year later.
Annual boosters are required to ensure immunity to leptospirosis and kennel cough.
The distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus vaccine is repeated every 3 years.
There is also the option to check for levels of antibodies to these three viruses. This Titre Test will show if your dog has sufficient immunity to provide protection and if so, will not require vaccination that year and can be checked again the following year.
The test involves taking a blood sample and can be done at the same time as the leptospirosis and kennel cough vaccine appointment.
There are two vaccines available for leptospirosis. Lepto 2 provides protection against two strains and Lepto 4 provides protection against four strains. For those dogs who like to go into ponds and streams and who drink out of puddle water in woodlands or visit farms, we highly recommend the Lepto 4 vaccine to provide the most protection available.
Dogs who avoid drinking from puddles and refuse to swim outdoors have a lower risk of ingesting contaminated water therefore the Lepto 2 vaccine may be sufficient for them.
We are aware that some people may have concerns about social media reports of serious adverse effects to the leptospirosis vaccine. We would like to reassure you that reactions to any vaccinations are very rare and the benefits of preventing these potentially fatal diseases far outweighs the risk of giving the vaccine. The following link to the official veterinary medicines regulator gives more information: