Vaccinating your Dog

Why should I get my dog vaccinated?

The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is as true for our pets as it is for us. Vaccinating your dog against preventable diseases is the logical choice when it comes to their health.

Common preventable diseases

Parvovirus (parvo)

Parvovirus is a nasty disease that can present itself intestinally or cardiovascularly. The more common form is the intestinal form, and symptoms include severe vomiting, blood in the stools, and loss of weight and appetite. The cardiac form is less common and attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies.

Parvovirus is highly contagious and can survive for long periods in the environment after being passed in the faeces of infected dogs. The virus can withstand cleaning and weather changes, meaning the spread of the virus is hard to control. It can be easily transferred on the paws and shoes of dogs and humans or other items contaminated with the virus, like bedding.

This virus is typically seen in young unvaccinated puppies, but older dogs can become infected too. Parvovirus symptoms progress rapidly, and the disease can be fatal. Targeted treatments are risky, may be expensive, but if caught early may carry a good prognosis. Vaccinating your pet against parvovirus is your best bet to protect them from the disease.

Canine distemper (hard pad disease)

Canine distemper, or ‘hard pad disease’, is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air and by contact with infected animals. It can be contracted by dogs of all ages and affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems.  It has no known cure.

In the initial stages of canine distemper, the most common symptoms are high fever, reddened eyes, watery discharge from the nose and eyes, poor appetite, and lethargy. As the disease progresses, the virus starts attacking the nervous system and the dog may start having seizures, and develop paralysis and attacks of hysteria.

Treatments are only symptomatic with no antiviral cure available. Affected dogs who are able to recover become carriers, shedding the virus in urine and other bodily secretions.

Canine Adenovirus (infectious canine hepatitis)

Canine adenovirus is a viral disease that targets a number of organs, notably the liver, kidneys, and eyes. This virus is spread in the faeces, urine, blood, and saliva of infected dogs. Symptoms can vary and include fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and tonsillitis. The disease can progress rapidly and can result in sudden death.

High vaccination rates have lowered instances of the adenovirus, but sporadic outbreaks can occur in wild and feral animals and pose a risk to domestic dogs. Treatment for canine adenovirus is ongoing, and some dogs will develop chronic hepatitis or painful conditions of the eyes. Continued vaccinations are the best way to protect your dog from contracting adenovirus.

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (canine cough)

‘Canine cough’ is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. As the name suggests, it presents itself as a dry and persistent cough. Young puppies are most at risk to suffer more severe complications such as pneumonia, fever, and lethargy. Some cases can be fatal.

It is spread easily through inhalation of the infectious particles during contact with infected animals and is commonly contracted in areas where large numbers of animals congregate, like dog parks, kennels, and dog shows. This disease is distressing to infected animals and can take as long as six weeks to combat.  Vaccination greatly reduces the incidence and severity of the disease.

When should I get my dog vaccinated?

Puppies – core vaccination schedule:


  • 6 to 8 weeks old – first vaccination
  • 10 to 12 weeks old – second vaccination
  • 14 to 16 weeks old – third vaccination

Adult dogs – booster vaccinations:

  • a year after your dog’s 14-week vaccination, another booster vaccine is required to ensure long-term immunity against contagious diseases
  • after that top-up, your vet will determine the most suitable ongoing vaccination program guided by your dog’s lifestyle and environment


Dogs require a Canine Cough vaccination every year (mandatory if attending a boarding facility).

Unvaccinated pets are at risk of contracting serious diseases.  You can protect your dog and keep them safe from disease by maintaining the vaccination program recommended by your Greencross Vets team.

For more information on vaccinating your canine companion, please contact your local Greencross Vets team or book an appointment online today.

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