Health Care

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Why vaccinate my dog?

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Vaccination is important whether or not your dog likes to explore

There are a number of highly contagious diseases that dogs can come into contact with from other animals or their environment. Some cause serious illness or even death.

All dogs should be vaccinated against the three ‘core’ diseases, canine distemper, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus as they are present throughout Australia. But there’s other diseases like canine cough to think about too.1

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are medications designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies to help protect against disease.

Why should I vaccinate my dog?

Dogs should be vaccinated to help protect them from many highly contagious and infectious diseases. When puppies are born, mothers pass on some immunity to their puppies through colostrum in their milk, but this protection is only temporary and the best way to ensure a long and happy life for your dog is to help provide protection with vaccination against common diseases.

What vaccinations are recommended for my dog?

It is important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle. Factors such as contact with other animals, indoors versus outdoors, and time spent travelling or boarding all affect your dog’s risk of exposure to disease. Most veterinarians will recommend that your dog be protected against diseases which are the most common, are easily spread and which cause serious illness. Your veterinarian may also recommend additional vaccines based on your dog’s risk factors for other diseases.

How often do I need to vaccinate my dog to help protect from disease?

In most cases, puppies will receive 3 vaccinations, 2-4 weeks apart, starting at 6-8 weeks of age2. An annual booster is recommended. Your vet may have specific recommendations for your dog based on their lifestyle and risk factors. Consult your vet if you have any questions about vaccination.

1. Australian Veterinary Association. Vaccination of dogs and cats. (accessed 1 August 2019)
2. WSAVA Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats, 2016.

Diseases you can help protect against with vaccination
  • Canine Distemper

    • A highly contagious and fatal viral disease
    • Affects dogs of all ages, but puppies are most at risk
    • Preventable by vaccination

    How it’s spread

    • By inhalation of secretions from an infected dog and from contaminated dust
    • After several weeks, disease can progress to skin reactions, muscle spasms and convulsions


    Fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea

  • Canine Hepatitis

    • A highly infectious disease
    • Affects dogs of all ages, but most severe in young puppies

    How it’s spread

    • Through ingestion of infected urine, faeces or saliva
    • Dogs can remain infectious and continue spreading disease for months after recovery


    • Fever, lack of appetite, diarrhoea, abdominal pain due to enlarged liver, jaundice, depression and eye lesions
    • Infected puppies and dogs can die within a few hours of onset of clinical signs

  • Canine Parvovirus

    • A severe and highly contagious disease
    • Affects dogs of all ages, but most severe in young puppies
    • A common disease in many areas of Australia
    • Preventable by vaccination

    How it’s spread

    • Through contact with faeces from an infected dog or contaminated soil
    • Can be spread on contaminated footwear and other objects, so people can transmit the disease even if their dog doesn’t leave the house


    • Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and other organs resulting in symptoms of vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, severe abdominal pain and depression
    • Infected puppies and dogs can die within 24 hours of symptoms presenting
    • The virus can stay in the environment for over a year

  • Canine Cough

    A highly contagious and very common respiratory disease caused mainly by Canine Parainfluenza Virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica both for which vaccination is available

    How it’s spread

    • Close contact with secretions from an infected dog
    • Commonly spread where groups of dogs meet including dog parks, kennels or dog shows


    A harsh, dry hacking cough that may persist for several weeks, conjunctivitis, tonsillitis and nasal discharge

The best protection & prevention against these infectious diseases in your dog is vaccination

Don’t let your dog get sick from a preventable disease

Discuss any questions you have with your vet

Ask your vet about disease risks in your area

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