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Should I Vaccinate My Dog?

The question of whether to vaccinate one's dog is a topic that has sparked extensive debate among pet owners. While some view it as an essential health requirement, others worry about possible side effects. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the subject, detailing why vaccination is crucial, what kinds of vaccines exist, and what to expect from the process.

Why Vaccines are Important

Vaccination plays a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term health and well-being of your dog. Here's why:

Benefits of Vaccination:

  • Disease Prevention: Vaccines can prevent several deadly diseases.
  • Community Health: Vaccination helps achieve herd immunity, protecting other animals in the community.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: The cost of vaccination is significantly lower than treating the diseases they prevent.


Table: Vaccination vs. No Vaccination



No Vaccination

Risk of Disease Low High
Long-term Costs Lower Higher
Contribution to Herd Immunity Yes No


Core vs. Non-Core Vaccines

Vaccines can be categorised into two main groups: Core and Non-Core.

Core Vaccines:

  • Rabies: Legally required in many places.
  • Canine Parvovirus: Highly contagious and potentially fatal.
  • Canine Distemper: Affects several body systems, including respiratory and nervous systems.
  • Canine Hepatitis: Causes liver disease.

Non-Core Vaccines:

  • Leptospirosis: Especially important for dogs who spend time outdoors.
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica: Causes 'kennel cough.'
  • Canine Parainfluenza: Another cause of 'kennel cough.'
  • Lyme Disease: Recommended for dogs in tick-infested areas.

Note: Your veterinarian will help determine which non-core vaccines are appropriate for your dog based on their lifestyle and risk factors.

Vaccination Schedule

Adhering to a vaccination schedule is critical for maintaining your dog's health.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule:

  • 6-8 Weeks: First DHP (Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus) shot.
  • 10-12 Weeks: Second DHP shot.
  • 14-16 Weeks: Third DHP shot and rabies vaccine.

Adult Dog Vaccination:

  • Rabies: Every 1-3 years, as required by law.
  • DHP: Every 1-3 years, based on your vet's recommendation.
  • Non-Core: Frequency varies based on the specific vaccine and your dog's risk factors.

Possible Side Effects

While vaccines are generally safe, there can be side effects.

Common Side Effects:

  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling at the injection site

Rare, Severe Side Effects:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Swelling of the face or legs
  • Difficulty breathing

Common Concerns Addressed

There are several misconceptions about dog vaccines that often deter pet owners from getting their dogs vaccinated.

Myth 1: Vaccines Cause Autism

  • Fact: There is no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism in dogs.

Myth 2: Over-Vaccination is Dangerous

  • Fact: Most vaccines have been carefully dosed to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal risk.

Myth 3: Natural Immunity is Better

  • Fact: Achieving natural immunity often involves undergoing the disease first, which can be severe or fatal.


Q: Can I vaccinate my dog at home?
A: While some vaccines are available over the counter, it's strongly recommended to have vaccinations done by a qualified veterinarian.

Q: How much will vaccinating my dog cost?
A: Costs can vary based on location and specific vaccines, but generally range from £60 to £100 for core vaccines.

Q: Are there alternatives to vaccines?
A: Currently, vaccination is the most effective method of disease prevention.


Vaccinating your dog is a critical aspect of responsible pet ownership. While there are some risks associated with vaccination, the benefits far outweigh them. Consult your veterinarian to create a customised vaccination plan that suits your dog's age, lifestyle, and health needs.


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