Pet Vaccinations

Vaccinating your pet is an essential part of being a pet owner and looking after your beloved dog, cat, rabbit or any other animal you choose to bring into your home. Vaccinations are a vital part of the process used by millions of pet owners to keep their pets safe.

Just like humans, pets require regular vaccinations to create a biological defence against some of the nasty diseases that can be picked up in everyday life. If your pet is unvaccinated and catches one of these illnesses then the symptoms could be fatal or cause long-term harm, meaning that staying on top of your pet’s vaccines is very important.

Adult Dog Vaccinations 

Your dog can suffer from some nasty diseases picked up easily and without the owner knowing where from. Thankfully, there are a number of vaccinations available to protect your dog from infectious diseases and ensure they are as safe as they can be on walks, playing around the house or interacting with other pets. Providers of pet care services such as kennels, doggie day care, or training classes should always ask for proof of annual vaccination to help keep your pet and others safe. 

Annual booster vaccinations are the most effective way to keep your pet safe against a number of infectious diseases. At Goddard Veterinary Group we provide vaccinations against a range of illnesses for dogs from canine parvovirus to leptospirosis. Most vaccines are administered via an injection, or in the case of kennel cough, a spray up the nose.


What Diseases Can I Prevent By Vaccinating My Dog?

There are a number of infectious diseases that you can get your dog vaccinated against. Some only need one vaccine in your dog’s lifetime, but some require annual vaccine boosters. Here are some of the most common.


Canine Parvovirus

Commonly referred to as parvo, canine parvovirus is a highly infectious viral disease that is deadly for a high percentage of dogs that contract it. It is still commonly seen in the UK and requires intensive hospital treatment for any dog that contracts it.  It is a very stable virus that can survive for a long time in the environment and your dog does not need direct contact with another dog to contract it.

Common symptoms of parvo virus infection are severe vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain and dehydration. Damage to the intestines and immune system can lead to septic shock. Vaccination is the best way to protect your dog’s health from this frequently deadly disease. 


Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Infectious Canine Hepatitis is a disease that affects a dog’s liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs. It’s spread through a dog’s bodily fluids and can last on surfaces both indoors and outdoors for months. At present, there is no treatment for Infectious Canine Hepatitis. A vaccination is the best way to protect your dog.



Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through urine, contaminated water and rodents. Active adult dogs are especially at risk if they swim or drink from stagnant pools of water or are bitten by a rat. Symptoms include a high fever, muscle pain, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, jaundice and lethargy and it can be fatal due to organ failure. It is recommended that you have your dog vaccinated against Leptospirosis every year as the protection from the vaccine fades after 12 months. Leptospirosis is a “zoonosis” which means infected dogs can spread it to people, although this is an uncommon route of infection in people. 



Distemper is a virus that can be fatal for dogs, or cause long-term health problems like muscle spasms, epileptic fits and paralysis. It is spread through airborne exposure such as coughing or sneezing, bodily fluids and from mother to offspring. Stagnant water or shared water bowls can also be a risk of spreading distemper. There is no known cure for distemper virus so vaccines are the best way to protect your dog. It can also be carried through wild animals, such as foxes, although cases are now thankfully rare in the UK, due to vaccination. 


Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease, aka “Kennel Cough”

CIRD is a highly infectious disease that affects the respiratory system of dogs. Caused by a number of different viruses and air borne bacteria , the most notable symptom is the dry, hacking cough that infected dogs suffer from. In most cases, it’s not usually dangerous. However, it can cause complications in puppies and older dogs, leading to conditions such as bronchopneumonia. We recommended an annual vaccination via nasal spray for most dogs and good quality boarding kennels, doggie day care centres and training classes will require evidence of a vaccination before accepting your dog into their programme.


Adult Cat Vaccinations

Cats are very prone to viral illnesses from birth and throughout their life. This can be the case regardless of if your cat is housebound or roams outdoors as we can potentially bring a virus into the house. Any cat admitted to a veterinary hospital may be at risk of picking up a viral infection, so we recommend all cats have regular vaccinations against the most common viruses, including indoor cats.

The core diseases we recommend vaccinating your cat against are:


Cat Flu

Caused by two viruses Feline Herpes virus and/or Calicivirus. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, inflamed eyes, loss of appetite, mouth or eye ulcers, nasal discharge, high temperature and lethargy. It can be fatal in kittens and in rare cases in adult cats. It can also lead to chronic health problems and recurrent eye disease which can be painful and debilitating for your cat. Regular vaccination helps to prevent infections and can also suppress disease in cats that carry the virus, similar to herpes virus in people. 

It is highly infectious and can be spread by indirect contact, so even indoor cats should be vaccinated against Cat Flu.


Feline Infectious Enteritis (FIP)

Similar to Canine Parvovirus, Feline Enteritis is a highly infectious and often fatal viral disease caused by the Feline Panleukopenia Virus. In kittens over three or four weeks of age and in adult cats the virus causes a very severe vomiting and diarrhoea, and some cats die rapidly, often before a diagnosis can be made. 

Due to vaccination, this is now not a common disease, and vaccination is the only effective method we have to control this disease. It can be a problem in stray or feral cats and from households or shelters that house high numbers of unvaccinated cats.


Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) can cause fatal disease in cats and vaccination is recommended for all cats that go outside or mix with other cats. The virus is spread by close contact, between cats including cat fight wounds, or even licking and grooming. It is also transferred from an infected queen to her kittens while they are still in the womb.  It can be several years between infection and signs of disease which include anaemia, lethargy and blood cancers.  There is no effective treatment once diagnosed.


Proactive Pets Plan

As part of our Proactive Pets Plan owners can take care of their yearly vaccinations and other medical procedures with a monthly sum to spread the cost of caring for a pet throughout the year. 

Initial vaccinations are discounted for Proactive Pets while annual booster vaccinations are included on the plan. As a benefit of becoming a Proactive Pet, you will also receive Microchipping and Flea Treatment in addition to discounts on Neutering, Dental Procedures and pet food products. 

Puppy & Kitten Vaccinations

Before leaving the breeder, your puppy or kitten should have had a health check by a veterinary surgeon, started their primary vaccination course and started on treatment for parasites such as intestinal worms. 

Please ask for a vaccination certificate, signed by a registered veterinary surgeon as evidence and email a copy to your veterinary practice.  We will then be able to advise you on when they should be seen for follow up vaccinations, or to start a vaccine course – this is usually between 8 and 12 weeks of age. 

To help avoid some of the pitfalls in purchasing a puppy or kitten, and to ensure you that your are provided with all the information you need from the breeder or seller of the pet please refer to the following documents:


FAQs On Pet Vaccinations


Does My Pet Need Annual Vaccinations?

Vaccinations against certain diseases have longer lifespans than others. We will always recommend a full vaccination 12 months after the primary puppy or kitten course.  Diseases such as leptospirosis in dogs and flu in cats require a yearly booster vaccination to protect your pet against them. In some other diseases, immunity from vaccination is longer lasting,  meaning it can be up to three years until revaccinations are required for certain diseases. . 

Your vet will be able to offer advice on the vaccinations your pet needs by looking at their medical records and vaccination certificate.


Do Housebound Pets Need Vaccinating? 

All pets can be exposed to some form of disease throughout their life, no matter how careful you are.  Some diseases that affect pets can be carried by humans, so visitors could be unknowingly putting your pet at risk. 

As unlikely it may seem, it is possible for your pet to escape. This can leave them outside and unprotected if they come into contact with other cats, and animals that could be carrying communicable diseases. If your pet is required to be hospitalised for treatment of another disease, then they will be at risk of catching an infectious disease from other patients. This is particularly true of cat flu in cats as it is highly infectious and impossible to remove all risk in a health care setting. 


Do Older Pets Need Vaccinating?

Elderly pets have a weaker immune system, much like in infant pets. As they grow older and their bodies are not what they used to be, fighting infections and diseases can become more difficult. We suggest consulting with your local Goddard Vet to discuss what vaccinations are available for older pets. 


How Long Do Puppy and Kitten Vaccinations last? 

Puppies and Kittens are given initial vaccinations in the first few weeks of their life, often as they begin their life in their new forever home. It is very important that your pet is given a booster injection at around 15 months of age to help boost the primary vaccination course and ensure longer term protection. From here, an annual examination with a veterinary surgeon is recommended and your vet will advise what vaccines are needed at each yearly check up to maintain immunity, based on your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors. 


Does Pet Insurance Cover Vaccinations?

In most cases, vaccinations are not covered by pet insurance. Most insurance companies will not cover the cost of treating a disease that could have been prevented by vaccination and will ask the veterinary surgeon for a vaccination history for your pet.