Do puppies need 3 vaccinations UK?

Yes, puppies in the UK generally require 3 sets of vaccinations during their first year of life. Vaccinating puppies helps protect them from serious and potentially fatal diseases. The exact timing and vaccines given may vary slightly between veterinarians, but the core vaccines and vaccination schedule remains consistent.

What are the core puppy vaccines in the UK?

There are four core vaccines recommended for all puppies in the UK:

  • Canine parvovirus (CPV)
  • Canine distemper virus (CDV)
  • Canine adenovirus (CAV)
  • Canine parainfluenza virus (CPIV)

These vaccines help protect against highly contagious and deadly diseases that still pose a significant threat to unvaccinated puppies in the UK. Vaccination helps puppies develop immunity to these diseases before potential exposure.

When should puppy vaccinations be given?

The typical schedule for puppy vaccinations in the UK is as follows:

  • 6-8 weeks old – First vaccination given, protects against parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus, and parainfluenza.
  • 10-12 weeks old – Second vaccination given, boosts the immunity from the earlier vaccination.
  • 14-16 weeks old – Third vaccination given, provides maximum protection by completing the course.
  • 1 year old – Annual booster vaccination recommended to maintain immunity.

Vaccinations are timed to correspond with the decline of maternal antibodies passed to puppies from their mother’s milk. Maternal antibody protection starts to wane around 6-8 weeks of age, so the first vaccine is given at this time to provide protection. Subsequent vaccines boost the puppy’s developing immunity.

What diseases do the core vaccines protect against?

Here is more detail on the four diseases prevented by the core puppy vaccine schedule in the UK:

Canine Parvovirus (CPV)

  • Highly contagious virus spread through contact with infected feces
  • Attacks the gastrointestinal system, causing severe vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and death
  • Mortality rate is 91% if untreated
  • Survives in the environment for months to years
  • Outbreaks still occur regularly in the UK

Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)

  • Highly contagious virus spread through airborne exposure
  • Attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems
  • Causes coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, paralysis, and death
  • Mortality rate is 50% in untreated dogs
  • No treatment available, supportive care only

Canine Adenovirus (CAV)

  • Contagious virus spread through contact with urine, feces, or saliva
  • CAV-1 causes infectious hepatitis, damaging the liver
  • CAV-2 causes respiratory illness, including pneumonia
  • Can be fatal, especially in young puppies
  • Outbreaks occur where unvaccinated dogs congregate

Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV)

  • Highly contagious virus spread by airborne transmission
  • Attacks the respiratory system and causes coughing, pneumonia, and bronchitis
  • Makes dogs more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections
  • Rarely fatal on its own but can worsen other illnesses
  • Widespread where unvaccinated dogs congregate

Are there additional recommended puppy vaccines?

Yes, veterinarians may recommend a couple of non-core vaccines in addition to the core vaccines, based on specific risk factors:

Kennel Cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica)

  • Highly contagious respiratory infection, causes severe coughing fits
  • Easily transmitted where dogs congregate, like kennels and daycares
  • Usually self-limiting but cough can persist for weeks
  • Given by intranasal vaccine; a series of 2 doses is recommended
  • Provides short-term immunity requiring frequent boosters


  • Bacterial disease that attacks the kidneys and liver
  • Spread through contact with infected urine or contaminated water/soil
  • potentially fatal if untreated but difficult to diagnose
  • Higher risk for dogs that go hiking, swimming, walk in ponds, or drink outdoor water
  • Given by injection; initial series of 2 doses is recommended
  • Annual boosters needed for continued protection

Should puppy vaccinations be given earlier than 6 weeks old?

No, puppies should never receive vaccines before 6 weeks of age. Maternal antibodies from the mother are still present and can neutralize the vaccine, preventing an immune response from developing. Vaccinating too early can render the vaccines ineffective but still expose puppies to potential adverse reactions.

Puppies younger than 6 weeks are also at higher risk of developing a devastating reaction to modified live vaccines known as canine parvovirus type 2c (CPV-2c) myocarditis. This is an inflammation of the heart muscle that can lead to heart failure and rapid death shortly after vaccination.

Can vaccinations be given later than 16 weeks old?

Yes, some vets may recommend delaying the final booster vaccine for a few weeks beyond 16 weeks old. This may provide better immune system stimulation when maternal antibodies have declined to very low levels. However, protection gaps start to emerge beyond 16 weeks of age, so vaccines shouldn’t be delayed for several months.

Owners of puppies that miss the 16-week vaccination window should get their final puppy booster shot as soon as possible. Temporary combination vaccine products can help quickly provide comprehensive protection when a booster has been missed.

Are 3 sets of vaccines always needed for puppies?

In most cases, yes, 3 sets of core vaccines are recommended to provide complete protection:

  • The first dose “priming” the immune system
  • The second dose boosting the initial immune response
  • The third dose maximizing antibodies to high protective levels

However, some circumstances may warrant reducing vaccines to only 1 or 2 doses:

  • Documented vaccine reactions – risks may outweigh benefits
  • Immune-mediated diseases – improper immune stimulation may worsen
  • Breeds with hypersensitivity to vaccine components
  • High maternal antibody levels blocking vaccine response

Veterinarians can test maternal antibody levels to help determine if a reduced protocol is appropriate. Annual vet exams should also assess if additional core vaccine boosters are needed for those on reduced protocols.

How much do puppy vaccines cost in the UK?

The average cost for each set of puppy vaccinations is £30 to £60. However, fees can range higher depending on the specific vaccines given, the vet clinic, or additional services included. Here are some general puppy vaccine price guidelines in the UK:

Vaccine Typical Price Range
Core vaccines only (parvo, distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza) £30 – £50
Core vaccines + kennel cough £45 – £65
Core vaccines + leptospirosis £50 – £70
Core vaccines + kennel cough + leptospirosis £60 – £85

Additional fees may apply for:

  • Exams, consultations, or health checks done at the same time
  • Microchipping
  • Routine deworming
  • Prescription flea/tick prevention
  • Medication administration
  • Lab tests
  • Vet exam or hospital fees

Shop around between vet clinics to find the best value. Rescues and shelters sometimes include the first round of puppy shots for a reduced fee. Pet insurance can also help offset costs for those on a budget.

What are the side effects of puppy vaccines?

Puppy vaccines are extremely safe and effective, but mild side effects can sometimes occur. Common reactions include:

  • Soreness, swelling, or minor pain at the injection site
  • Mild fever
  • Decreased appetite for a day or two
  • Temporary fatigue or lethargy

These effects are normal and usually resolve on their own within 1-2 days. More severe vaccine reactions like hives, facial swelling, or anaphylaxis are very rare but require immediate veterinary care.

Young puppies may be sleepy or have less energy for a day after vaccination. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for a few days to allow their immune system to focus on building antibodies. Reactions typically decrease with subsequent vaccine doses.

Are there any exemptions from puppy vaccines?

Exemptions from core puppy vaccines are uncommon but may be granted in certain situations, including:

  • Medical exemptions – Severe adverse reaction to a vaccine component, immunodeficiency diseases, or conditions suppressed by medications that could put the puppy at risk.
  • Serological testing – Blood tests indicate protective antibody titers already present, such as from maternal antibodies.
  • Medical intervention – Emergency treatment where vaccines need to be delayed during illness or recovery.

Exemptions should come directly from the managing veterinarian based on health risks and benefits. Some boarding facilities, doggy daycares, or training classes may not accept vaccine exemptions due to liability concerns.

Unvaccinated puppies pose a health risk to themselves and other dogs. Exemptions are uncommon and typically temporary – most dogs can be safely vaccinated once the medical issue resolves or maternal antibodies decline. Only medical exemptions, not personal exemptions, apply for puppy vaccines.

Do puppies need vaccinations every year?

Yes, dogs require booster vaccinations throughout their lives to maintain immunity. After the initial puppy series, boosters are needed at least every 3 years for core vaccines. Some guidelines recommend annual boosters to ensure there are no gaps in protection.

For non-core vaccines like kennel cough and leptospirosis, annual boosters are always advised. Immunity from these vaccines decreases substantially within 6-12 months of vaccination.

Annual vet checkups provide a good opportunity to administer needed vaccine boosters. Titer testing can help determine if boosters are required less frequently for some dogs. But unless a dog has a medical exemption, an annual booster is considered the standard.

What paperwork is provided for puppy vaccines?

Veterinarians should provide a printed or digital pet vaccination record detailing the specific vaccines administered including:

  • Pet’s name and owner information
  • Vaccine names and manufacturers
  • Vaccination dates
  • Next booster due dates
  • Vet clinic details

Be sure to store this important document! Many boarding facilities, doggy daycares, classes, and even some groomers require up-to-date vaccine records. It also provides helpful medical records for future vet reference.

Where can puppies be vaccinated?

Puppies should receive vaccines from a licensed veterinary clinic or hospital. While low-cost clinics may offer vaccine services, a full-service vet is best for evaluating overall health. Many clinics include exams with the vaccine prices.

Home vaccination by a mobile vet service also provides personalized care. Avoid over-the-counter vaccine kits purchased from feed stores or online pharmacies – the risks of self-vaccination outweigh any benefits of convenience or cost savings.

Can breeders give the first puppy vaccines?

Responsible breeders will sometimes start a puppy vaccine schedule before sending pups home. This early vaccination provides some protection during the stress of moving. However, new owners should still follow up with their own vet’s recommended schedule.

While breeder-administered vaccines can be an added benefit, buyers should not expect or require it. Breeders should focus on proper breeding, health testing, socializing, and overall puppy care. Vaccines may be self-administered to save costs but are not an essential breeder duty.

Should puppies have vet checkups with vaccines?

Yes, each set of puppy vaccines should be accompanied by a full veterinary exam to check overall health and progress. Puppies grow rapidly so any issues or delays can be caught early before causing harm.

Vet visits for vaccines also provide opportunities for:

  • Monitoring weight and growth benchmarks
  • Physical exams of eyes, ears, mouth, skin, limbs etc.
  • Discussing behavior, house-training, feeding guidelines
  • Administering deworming or flea/tick medications
  • Evaluating socialization and training progress

Some clinics include exams in the cost of vaccines. Even at an added fee, the exams provide valuable peace of mind and should not be skipped. Preventative care is much easier and more effective than attempting to treat an illness after the fact.


Responsible puppy owners understand the importance of proper vaccination to protect their pup’s health and future wellbeing. While an individual may only see the short-term costs, vaccines provide long-term savings by preventing serious illnesses that require extensive treatment and hospitalization. They also help support public health by controlling contagious diseases that threaten the wider canine population.

By following the standard recommendation of 3 puppy vaccines spaced at appropriate intervals, owners give their puppy the best opportunity for immunity. Regular boosters continue that protection into adulthood. Although mild side effects are possible, the overwhelming benefits make vaccination essential during puppyhood and beyond.

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