Vaccinating your pet is a key step in protecting your pet against life threatening diseases, including parvovirus, canine adenovirus and canine distemper virus. These diseases are still diagnosed in the UK, and so pose a constant danger to any unvaccinated animal.

Dog vaccinations:

Puppy Vaccination

Puppies require a course of two vaccines that cover Distemper(D), Hepatitis(H), Parvovirus(P) and Leptospirosis (L2/4)

  • 1st vaccine – from 6 weeks of age
  • 2nd vaccine- from 10 weeks of age, 2-4 weeks after the first vaccine*

*For L4, this needs to be given exactly 4 weeks after the first vaccine

Booster Vaccination

Dogs will need a yearly booster and, whilst there is a grace period of three months, it’s a good idea to pop a reminder in your calendar when the boosters are due to avoid having to restart the course!

The Leptospirosis (L2/4) vaccine will be needed yearly, however the DHP vaccine is only needed every 3 years.

Lou & Hannah



The distemper virus is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal. It can be spread through direct contact with an infected dog’s saliva, urine or blood. Survival is possible, however the patient may be left with brain damage and suffer from seizures.

Canine Hepatitis

This disease is spread through the faeces, blood, saliva and nasal discharge of an infected animal. Symptomatic and supportive treatment can be given, though survivors can be left with long-term kidney and eye damage.


This virus is easily spread, through contact with infected dogs or via clothes and shoes, and is usually fatal without intensive supportive care. It is most commonly found in young puppies and can quickly infect a whole litter. It can also live in the environment for many years.



This is a highly infectious bacterial disease spread via the urine of infected dogs and rats. It is also a zoonotic disease (which means it can spread to humans via contact from infected urine). Severe forms of the disease are difficult to treat and can rapidly prove fatal.

Kennel Cough Vaccination

This is a single vaccine that needs to be repeated yearly to maintain protection. It is not part of the core vaccinations but is recommended for any dog who frequently comes into close proximity with other dogs such as in training classes, day care, kennels and on walks in popular areas.

Infectious Tracheobronchitis (Kennel Cough)

Commonly known as ‘Kennel Cough’, this is an extremely contagious respiratory infection. It spreads when dogs come into close or direct contact with each other. The incubation period is roughly between 7-14 days, which is why most boarding kennels will insist dogs are vaccinated at least 3 weeks before their stay.

Cat vaccinations:

Kitten Vaccinations

Kittens require a course of two vaccines that cover Feline Calicivirus (FCV), Feline Herpesvirus (Rhinotracheitis) FHV, Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia or Infectious Enteritis) FPV (Tricat) and Feline Leukaemia Vaccination (FeLV) – more info on these below!

  • 1st vaccination – from 9 weeks of age
  • 2nd vaccination – at least 12 weeks of age, 3-4 weeks after the first vaccination

Booster vaccination

Cats will need a yearly booster and, whilst there is a grace period of three months, it’s a good idea to pop a reminder in your calendar when the boosters are due to avoid having to restart the course!



Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

This is a common respiratory disease that, as well as attacking the lungs and nasal passages, it also attacks the musculoskeletal system. Pets are left finding it difficult to breathe, with mouth ulceration and pain when moving. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia and death.

Feline Herpesvirus (Rhinotracheitis) FHV

Widely known as ‘Cat Flu’, this is a highly contagious disease and is spread through direct contact with an infected cat. Whilst symptomatic and supportive treatment can be given, this disease can swiftly become severe and even life threatening. Eyes are commonly affected; ulcers form leading to long term eye complications, causing pain, vision impairment and possibly needing enucleation (eye removal).

Feline Parvovirus (Panleukopenia or Infectious Enteritis) FPV

Extremely contagious, this virus is spread though urine, faeces and nasal secretions. It can also be spread through fleas of infected cats.

Kittens are very susceptible to this disease and the likelihood of recovery of those under 8 weeks of age is poor. Older cats have a higher chance of recovery if diagnosed early enough but will require intensive hospital nursing care.


Feline Leukaemia Vaccination (FeLV)

This is an incurable viral infection that, because of immunosuppression, inevitably produces a fatal illness in the infected cat.

Many infected cats go onto develop tumours, and sadly survive only 3-4 years after diagnosis.

Vaccination is strongly advised in multi-cat households or highly cat populated areas.

Vaccination FAQs

How do they work?

As with all vaccines, a small dose of either dead or live organisms is injected into your pet. Your pet’s immune system will then produce antibodies against these diseases. If your pet then comes into contact with any of the diseases, his or her immune system will recognise it and begin producing the antibodies needed to fight the disease.

Why do I have to wait until my pet is a specific age to vaccinate?

A mother passes on antibodies (Maternally Derived Antibodies, MDA) to her puppies and kittens through her milk. This immunity, though short term, can prevent the puppy or kitten creating its own antibodies when vaccinated. The levels of MDA normally drop between 6-8 weeks of age so starting a puppy/kittens vaccination course at a specific age maximises the chance of providing protection.

Vets will occasionally move away from the normal time limits if, for example, there is a question mark over the health or nutritional state of the animal.

Why does my Chihuahua have the same vaccine dose as a Great Dane?

Vaccinations are given to stimulate the immune system to make antibodies therefore the levels will be the same regardless of body mass.

Why does my pet need an annual booster?

Recent studies have shown that high levels of antibodies are produced by the immune system against some diseases for longer than others. This is why in the case of dogs, their ‘booster schedule’ will differ from year to year.

Are vaccinations safe?

Yes. Before manufacturers can sell their vaccines, the vaccines have to go through very strict, rigorous testing. This is regulated by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). All data is available to the public once the product has been approved.


It is extremely rare for a pet to show any serious side effects following vaccination. However, as with humans, you may see some mild reactions, such as pets being off their food for a day or two, or being a little quiet, but these are normally short-lived.