Why Vaccinate Your Dog by Dr Paul Manktelow | DogLife360

Why Vaccinate Your Dog by Dr Paul Manktelow

Principal Vet at PDSA, Dr Paul Manktelow, is DogLife360's resident vet and is nominated for a 2021 Naturo SuperDog Award.

Well known for his regular TV appearances, Dr Paul has worked for 20 years on the front line in some of the busiest veterinary hospitals and has made it his mission to improve the welfare of dogs in the UK.

Watch Dr Paul Manktelow. Why vaccinations don't stop at puppyhood.  


The pandemic shone a spotlight on the important role that vaccination plays in the fight against disease.  So, what better time to remind ourselves as to why we vaccinate our dogs and the diseases we are protecting against. 

All dogs should begin their primary vaccinations during puppyhood at around 6-8 weeks of age. Depending on which protocol your vet follows they should then receive a second vaccine 3-4 weeks later, and in some cases a third another 4 weeks after that. Pups should not be socialised around unvaccinated dogs or in public spaces where other dogs frequent until two weeks after their second vaccination has been given. Many dog owners believe that their pups' jabs will last their lifetime, but this is incorrect.

Some of the viruses we vaccinate against, such as leptospirosis, require annual re-vaccination whereas others, such as parvovirus and distemper, should be repeated every 3 years. It is important to continue with your dog's vaccinations to maintain immunity against the diseases we protect against. Your vet will also perform a routine physical examination, another great reason why ensure you should take your dog each year!

Read More: Top Tips for Holidaying with your Dog - Dr Paul Manktelow

Which horrible diseases are we vaccinating our dogs against in the UK?

Dr Paul Manktelow

Canine Distemper (CDV)

Once upon a time this disease could wipe out entire doggy communities, that is how deadly and contagious it could be. Thanks to the development of a vaccine in the 1950’s it is now thankfully considered to be quite rare. If a dog becomes infected and is treated symptomatically in the early stages of the disease there is a good chance that they will recover. Sadly those that are in the more advanced stages or have a weakened immune system are much more unlikely to survive.

hands helping dog get vaccinated

There is no known cure for this disease with prevention via routine vaccination being the only cure. This is one of the core viruses we vaccinate against.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the disease can vary according to how far the disease has progressed. 

The initial early symptoms are:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • A watery or purulent discharge from the nose and/or eyes
  • Reddened eyes
  • A lack or complete loss of appetite
  • A fever (that may come and go making it hard to detect).

As the virus spreads throughout the body, it can go on to cause much more severe symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Thickened paw pads
  • Seizures
  • Imbalance/Ataxia
  • Limb weakness
  • Muscle Stiffness

How is CDV spread? 

Canine distemper is usually spread via direct contact with an infected dog and is transmitted by the infected dog’s saliva and urine. Because saliva is the main conduit for the disease this means it can be transmitted in airborne particles if an infected dog coughs or sneezes. It may also be passed from an infected pregnant bitch to her pups via the placenta.

Canine Parvovirus (CPV)

Many dog owners may be familiar with this particular disease as it is still highly prevalent in the UK and often rears its ugly head, often with fatal consequences.  Parvovirus is a violent, highly contagious virus that has an incredibly high mortality rate, particularly as it is most associated with unvaccinated puppies and poor breeding practices, such as those in puppy farms. Puppies are not the only ones at risk, any dog that is unvaccinated, may contract and become unwell with parvovirus. 

Which diseases do Vaccinate against? dog being vaccinated

Much the same as Canine distemper, this disease also holds no specific cure. Aggressive symptomatic treatment is necessary and infected dogs can tragically die, especially younger and weaker pups. Vaccination, however, does provide extremely high protection from the virus if they are kept up regularly - this is the second of the core viruses your dog should receive protection against.

Read More: Make Your Vet Visits Stress Free - Dr Paul Manktelow

What are the symptoms?

Parvovirus primarily attacks the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms are often severe and fatal if left untreated. The most common symptoms are;

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever or hypothermia depending on the stage of the disease
  • Severe vomiting
  • Diarrhoea which is often watery or bloody in appearance
  • Seizures may occur in pups because of dangerously low blood sugar levels. This is commonly associated with loss of appetite and severe vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

How is CPV spread?

Canine parvovirus is spread through direct and indirect contact with contaminated faeces. It’s deadliness lies in its survival skills. The virus is resistant to many disinfectants and has an ability to survive on surfaces for months or even years in the right environment. 

Canine Adenovirus (CAV)

Canine Adenovirus, more commonly known as infectious hepatitis, is actually one of the  viruses that is less commonly known to dog owners. It is NOT the same as the infectious hepatitis humans can get and therefore isn’t transmissible between dog and owner.

brave spaniel being vaccinated

Infectious hepatitis is a virus which primarily attacks the liver but can also affect other major organs such as the kidneys, lungs, eyes and heart. Cases can range from mild to severe and, like Covid-19, there is no knowing how any one individual will respond. Those dogs that do contract and survive the virus will also likely be infectious to other dogs for months to come as they will continue to shed the virus in their urine. Similarly to the other viruses already mentioned, it can survive in the right conditions for months-even up to a year. There is no specific cure to this virus but vaccination has been proven to provide extremely effective protection.

Therefore this is another of the core viruses we vaccinate our dogs against and, after the primary course of vaccines given as a puppy, is usually repeated every 3 years.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

Mild symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite or thirst
  • Coughing
  • Vomitting
  • Diarrhoea

In severe cases your dog may experience:

  • Jaundice-yellow tinged gums or skin
  • Fever
  • Bruising
  • Bloody vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Painful tummy
  • Seizures
  • Cloudy eyes-this usually occurs after recovering from the infection.

How is CAV spread?

Adenovirus is shed in infected dog's urine or other bodily fluids such as poop and snot. It is extremely contagious and unvaccinated dogs can contract it if they come into direct contact with any infectious material. 

Read More: What to Tell your Groomer Before they Groom your Dog 

Canine “Lepto”spirosis

Lepto is a nasty little bacterium which can, in severe cases, cause damage to the liver and kidneys and has proven fatal in many cases. It is also a ‘zoonotic’ disease meaning it can be passed from doggy to human owner. In humans it is known as “Weils” disease and is equally as serious a threat to health. 

Old Lab getting her shots

Dogs who contract a severe case of lepto usually have to receive aggressive treatment and should remain isolated with strict hygiene protocols as they can remain infectious and a high risk to their owners and other dogs for some time after recovery. Vaccination is recommended annually and provides excellent protection against the types of lepto bacteria commonly found in the UK. Not only might it protect and save a dog's life, but it will also indirectly protect their owners.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can vary but can include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Jaundice - yellow eyes or gums
  • Weakness 
  • Bloody diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Collapse
  • Bleeding from the eyes or nose
  • Muscle tenderness or limping

How is CAV spread?

Lepto is spread after contact with infected urine from other dogs or other species such as cows, rats or pigs. It can also survive for months at a time in freshwater or wet ground, such as rivers, lakes and thrives in stagnant water.

Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPi) - part of Kennel Cough

Canine parainfluenza is a respiratory virus and is one of the more common causes of what is most commonly known as “Kennel Cough”. It is highly contagious as it can remain airborne in droplets after an infected dog has coughed or sneezed-because of a dog's close proximity to others in kennels or shelters, this is how it earnt the monika “Kennel Cough”. It is not usually fatal but can see your dog become quite poorly.

Symptoms of kennel cough are:

  • Dry hacking cough
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression/Lethargy
  • Eye inflammation or discharge

Vaccination should be given annually to dogs who are at high risk or who live in high risk, ‘doggy’ population-dense areas.

Bordatella bronchiseptica….part of  Kennel Cough

Bordatella is slightly different in that it isn’t a virus. It is, in fact, a type of bacterium which causes upper respiratory signs and is often known to contribute towards ‘Kennel Cough’. Symptoms and treatment are much the same as Parainfluenza, though antibiotics may be required if bordatella is also doing its dirty work.

There is a vaccine available that can help to reduce the risk of contracting it, and is usually administered orally or up the nose. Not all dogs will necessarily need this vaccine, and it is worth discussing with your vet on the prevalence of ‘Kennel Cough’ in your area and if it is recommended.

healthy dog and happy man

Canine Rabies

The UK is free from rabies and because of this it is not routinely vaccinated against in our country. If, however, you are planning on travelling abroad to a country where rabies is present, you will need to vaccinate your dog against it. This is in order to not only protect your pet but is also mandatory for entry in and out of the UK. 

It would be accurate to say that many of the diseases we vaccinate our dogs against are highly contagious, without cure and without mercy. Never has a truer word been spoken in the saying “Prevention is better than the cure” and it is highly recommended you keep up with your dog's vaccines. If you are not sure if your dog is up to date with their vaccines contact your vet to check and get booked in if necessary.


Watch & Read More: How to Prepare for your Puppy's First Vet Visit - Adem Fehmi 

Watch & Read More: Train your Dog to Give a Paw - Lucy Heath