dog vaccination



Lots of people bought pets during lockdown, and they have brought untold benefits in terms of companionship and exercise during these very difficult times. Unfortunately the aftermath of Covid-19 along with Brexit and the invasion of Ukraine, is that there is a huge cost of living crisis looming… and it affects pet care as much as everything else.


  • BUY IN BULK. If you can afford to buy larger amounts of pet food this will usually be less expensive. Choosing a cheaper brand may not be cost effective as you often need to feed more per meal so look at the per meal cost as well as the price per bag. Only buy as much as you will use before the food goes out of date.
  • KEEP ON TOP OF VACCINATIONS AND PARASITE CONTROL. Cutting corners on preventative healthcare often costs more in the long run. Some owners chose cheaper flea treatments to save money when furloughed then faced an uphill struggle to control a flea infestation. Unless your pet is at high risk of adverse reactions to vaccines it will be less expensive to follow the vets programme than using titre tests to check protection.
  • ASK ABOUT A PRESCRIPTION. Written prescriptions allow your to buy medications on-line from pharmacies. You will be charged for the prescription but will still be able to make savings on some parasite prevention products and medications. Vets will have individual policies on how many times you can use a prescription and how often your pet will need a meds check.
  • INSURE YOUR PET. Insurance is a monthly bill you may think about dropping, but can you afford to care for your pet in an emergency without it? Ask if there are any areas of cover that can be removed to reduce the premium, or offer to pay a higher excess. Make sure you have the excess available, and remember that some specialist centres require payment at the time. A credit card is useful for this as you can pay it off as soon as the insurance pays out. Alternatives to insurance including making a pet savings account, but this may not have enough in if your young pet becomes ill.
  • JOIN A PET HEALTH CLUB. Many veterinary practices have pet health clubs where a monthly fee pays for reduced cost parasite control and vaccines and unlocks other freebies and discounts.
  • DON’T DIY. If you are concerned about your pet’s health, even if you are also on a tight budget, please seek veterinary advice. Although there is good information on the internet vets also see too many pets who have been damaged through the use of human medicines or delayed treatment.

Four Seasons Holistic Veterinary Care is a referral only service and we can only offer advice to registered and referred clients. We are a very small business and are not able to offer any credit on our services.




You can’t read a dog magazine, or join a dog Facebook group without the subject of dog vaccinations coming up. Usually the theme is, ‘vets are ripping you off and harming your dog’, but is that true?

The best place to start is probably not an anti-vaccination group, or a drug company website, but the WSAVA who have a committee dedicated to reviewing the research into vaccination and developing guidelines for vets in many different countries and situations.

The WSAVA are concerned with both an individual dog’s health, but also the health of the wider canine, wildlife, and human populations. Many writers focus on their advice that many dogs have long durations of immunity to core vaccinations…but they don’t consider the extra puppy jabs the WSAVA recommend. This article considers the recommendations for pet dogs in the UK.


Vaccination gives dogs protection against a range of diseases. Vaccination pre-warns the immune system so that it can respond better when challenged with the disease. This means the dog either doesn’t get sick, or has a milder form of the disease. Many vaccines also stop dogs shedding the disease and spreading it to other dogs.


Every dog should receive vaccination against Canine Adenovirus (infectious hepatitis), Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Distemper. Of these Parvovirus remains the most common, often being seen in puppies from poor backgrounds. It causes bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, and affected puppies often die even after extensive (and expensive!) treatment. Distemper was becoming something of a distant memory in the UK, though many colleagues have seen one or two cases (often in dogs imported from Eire). However distemper is on the rise in imported dogs from eastern Europe. Early symptoms include lethargy, conjunctivitis, and joint pain. Dogs can recover with intensive nursing, but may suffer neurological damage and problems with their pads. Infectious hepatitis is not often reported in the UK, but may be underdiagnosed with liver problems being attributed to other causes. Most UK core vaccines are proven, by their manufacturers, to give at least 3 years duration of immunity.


These should be given according to risk. In the UK almost all dogs should receive Leptospirosis vaccination. This bacterial infection is found in standing water, especially water which may have been contaminated with farm animal or rat urine. The disease is contagious between dogs, and also to people (where it is called Weil’s Disease). Infection in people starts with flu-like symptoms but the disease can become serious, even fatal. In dogs the liver or kidneys are most commonly affected. Treatment with fluids and antibiotics can be successful, but dogs can shed the leptospires in their urine for some time after recovery making them an animal and human health risk. The number of confirmed canine Leptospirosis cases each year is relatively low because a proper diagnosis required two blood samples, taken a month apart, showing a rising antibody titre. Dogs are usually either dead or recovering by the time the second sample should be taken and its cost means this step is often skipped. Many more suspected cases are treated every year, and Leptospirosis is thought to be responsible for some chronic kidney and liver disease too. In recent years with increased flooding vets have reported clusters of Lepto cases.

Kennel cough vaccines can be considered for any dog which goes to kennels, groomers, training classes, shows, or to a dog walker. Although Kennel cough is not dangerous to healthy adult dogs it can kill old dogs and puppies. Breeding bitches should be vaccinated before mating. The vaccine protects against Bordatella and the Paraninfluenza virus and is given as a nasal drop.

Leptospirosis and Kennel cough vaccines only offer short lived protection and should be repeated annually if required.

Rabies is not a core vaccine in the UK as we are rabies free. However vaccination is required for travel under the Pet Passport scheme.

In the last few years additional vaccines have become available for Lymes Disease and Leishmania; these should be given only to dogs at high risk of those diseases. Herpes virus vaccination is available to reduce the risk of fading puppy syndrome. It is only given to breeding bitches and must be given at each pregnancy.


A small number of dogs can’t be vaccinated due to ill health, previous reactions, medications, or simply don’t produce a good immune response to vaccination.These dogs can be protected by ‘herd immunity’, i.e. diseases are unlikely to reach them if all the other dogs around them are protected.


Nothing that we put into our, or our dog’s, bodies is safe. The immune system can react badly to any food, drug, or vaccination. The risk of reactions from vaccinations may be higehr than for other drugs as we are directly trying to stimulate an immune response. However, vaccines are generally safe with a low risk of reactions.


The most common reaction is pain at the injection site. With some vaccinations over 50% of dogs will show some pain. A few of these will get a swelling at the injection site but this is short lived.

Being ‘off colour’ for 24 hours or so is not unusual either, and reflects the stimulation of the immune system.

Some dogs, especially puppies get diarrhoea after vaccination. This may reflect the immune response, but may also reflect the stress of a vet visit on top of rehoming, a change in diet and water, and any parasite treatment given. Most cases resolve with symptomatic treatment.

These common, mild reactions usually pass with little or no treatment, but always contact your vet if you are concerned.


Anaphylactic reactions are extremely rare, and unfortunately are very unpredicatable. Dogs may react at their first injection, or after having a vaccine on several previous occasions. Anaphylactic reactions happen very quickly after vaccination and may include fainting, fitting, vomiting, and diarrhoea. They usually happen before a dog leave the practice and treatment with oxygen, adrenaline, and maybe steroids is usually effective.


Some authors write extensively about diseases caused by overvaccination, but there is actually very scant evidence for this. A ‘hypothyroid epidemic’ is blamed on vaccination, and yet the rate of diagnosis in the UK is the same as that on the Falkland Islands (where no disease risk means no vaccination). Autoimmune disease certainly seem to be on the rise, but many factors may be involved other than vaccines; we know certain breeds, and lines within breeds are more likely to get autoimmine diseases, pollution may play a factor, and understimulation of the immune system due to excellent hygiene and parasite control could be factors too. A survery examinind illnesses suffered in the three months after a vet visit showed no statistical difference between dogs which had been vaccinated, and those which had been seen for other reasons.

That said, it makes sense to only give what a dog needs when he needs it.


Homeopathic nosodes are not a suitable alternative to vaccination. In challenge testing puppies ‘vaccinated’ homeopathically against parvovirus got ill and died.

Titre testing is the best alternative to following the manufacturers recommendations. Titre testing is now available at a reasonable price (around £30) for Distemper, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. Dogs with good levels of circulating antibody will be protected against disease. Dogs with low or no circulating antibody may not be protected. Advanced testing shows that some dogs with no circulating antibodies actually have cellular immunity…however this level of testing is not available in practice, so revaccination is recommended for low/no titre dogs.

Leptospirosis vaccination only produces circulating antibodies for a few weeks, then the immunity is cellular. For this reason titre testing is not suitable for assessing Leptospirosis protction.


For maximum protection the WSAVA recommends either titre testing puppies monthly from 6weeks until their maternal antibody protection fades, or giving core vaccines monthly until 16weeks. They recommend a further vaccination at 6-12months and then either revaccination every 3 years for core vaccines or titre testing.

In practice very few people are going to want to either pay for monthly titre testing, or vaccinate their puppies up to 5 times in 6months. In the UK where disease risk is moderate the current protocols where vaccination starts at 6- 8 weeks and finishes at 10-12 weeks, with a booster at 12months, should provide adequate protection for most dogs. A 16week vaccine or titre test could be considered for certain breeds, or during a disease outbreak. Additionally, breeders keeping puppies which may suckle from their dam for longer than most could consider delaying their vaccine start, or titre testing.

The good news is that more and more practices are offering titre testing and individualised vaccination. Our Vet Vicky Payne offers vaccine consultations and titre testing at Companion Care Vets Eastbourne and Goudhurst Vets.




We are pleased to announce that we can now offer an in-house test to check your dog’s level of protection against Parvovirus, Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus) and Distemper (DHP).


Your dog will receive a thorough health check then have a blood sample taken. In around 30 minutes we can tell you whether your dog requires a DHP vaccine this year or not! We recommend all dogs have vaccination against Leptospirosis annually and this can be done with or with DHP.

You will have time to discuss all your dog’s preventative healthcare needs including parasite control and whether Kennel Cough vaccine is recommended for his lifestyle.


In line with WSAVA and manufacturers guidelines we recommend all puppies receive their first vaccinations starting at 8-12 weeks old and finishing at 12-16. Additional vaccines, or titre testing, at 16 weeks plus is recommended for certain breeds. A full booster at 1year is also recommended.

After this we vaccinate against Leptospirosis annually and DHP every 3 years. But some dogs may have much longer or shorter periods of protection so we now offer in-house titre testing.


Because we need to be able to process a blood sample Vaccicheck will initially only be available at Companion Care Vets Eastbourne. Holistic Vet Vicky Payne is available there for appointments on Mondays and Fridays. Call 01323 649315


Health Check, Leptospirosis Vaccination and Vaccicheck: £60

Health Check, Leptospirosis Vaccination, Vaccicheck and DHP Vaccination: £60

Health Check, Vaccicheck and DHP Vaccination £60

Health Check and Vaccicheck only: £53

Kennel Cough Vaccine given at the same time as any Health Check/Vaccination £10



Now you see why we call it Kennel Cough!

Once more Vicky our Holistic Vet has spotted articles circulating the internet which may or may not be giving their readers the whole story…this time the headline, “Kennel Cough Vaccine is a Waste of Money!”. So…..ready for a balanced review?


Kennel Cough is properly known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. It is a highly contagious, complex respiratory disease of dogs. In healthy adult dogs it causes an annoying, hacking cough for up to four weeks, but in young puppies and older dogs it can have more serious consequences including pneumonia and death.

It is caused by a bacteria called Bordatella bronchiseptica with one of a number of viruses including Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus and Canine Herpesvirus.

It is spread by coughing and sneezing but can also remain in the environment for a short time meaning direct dog to dog contact isn’t required.


We recommend all puppies and breeding bitches are vaccinated. Puppies have little natural immunity and infection in puppies can cause pneumonia, fading puppy syndrome and death.

We recommend old dogs and those with chronic respiratory diseases are also vaccinated, again because consequences could be severe for these dogs.

Most adult dogs are at risk of contracting Kennel Cough but as the disease is usually more annoying than dangerous in this group some owners choose not to vaccinate. Dogs are at higher risk of contracting kennel cough if they go to kennels, groomers, training classes, shows and competitions or ares used by multiple dogs.


It has been suggested that the Kennel Cough vaccine doesn’t work, but that’s not really true. Most vaccines contain modified live Bordatella and Parainfluenza and create good protection against these after 3 days (Bordatella) and 3 weeks (Parainfluenza). As mentioned many other viruses can be involved too so the dog is still at risk from these. Often dogs are not taken for vaccination until an outbreak has started, so may be incubating the disease already. Usually in a Kennel Cough outbreak vaccinated dogs are either fully protected, or get a milder form of the disease to unvaccinated dogs.

The vaccine creates local immunity by being given up the nose so is amongst the safest vaccinations. It can be used for pregnant bitches and pups from 3weeks old!

Reactions are rare but some dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, get a little snotty after vaccination.

The diseases in the vaccine are modified so the vaccinated dog can’t spread disease from the vaccine to other dogs. Cats, unvaccinated dogs and people can suffer mild and transient symptoms but won’t get full blown kennel cough. However dogs which have already had Kennel Cough can shed it for a long time, even for three months after vaccination.


If your dog does get Kennel Cough he may need very little treatment; in mild cases use honey to soothe the throat (some human cough medicines can be used too, but consult your vet!). If your dog seems miserable, or won’t eat your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories. Only the most serious cases need antibiotics. If visiting your vet when you think your dog has Kennel Cough leave it in the car until the vet is ready for you to reduce spread. Kennel Cough also responds really well to herbal medicines (contact us if you would like a bespoke herbal preparation for your dog!).


Our best advice is to speak to your vet so you can decide between you the best course of action for your dog.