Understanding pet diseases and protecting your pet 

Why vaccinations are the best defence against the worst pet diseases

2 minute read

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No pet owner wants their furry friend to get sick. Here, we look at the most serious pet diseases and how to prevent them. 

  • Why should you vaccinate your pet?
  • When is it safe for your new pet to go outside?
  • How often should you vaccinate your pet?


Vaccinating your pet is the best way to protect them from diseases

Prevention is better than a cure

Just like us, pets are at risk of catching diseases that can be debilitating and even life threatening.

If your cat or dog does catch a pet disease, it's likely they'll need veterinary care, which can be expensive. So when you first bring home your new pet, regardless of age, make sure their vaccinations are up to date and they have pet insurance. Please note vaccinations are not covered by pet insurance. 
Vaccinations prevent your pet from some of the worst types of pet diseases.

Why do I need to vaccinate my pet?

Vaccinations protect your pet from some of the worst types of pet diseases. Getting your pet vaccinated means they won't need to suffer unnecessarily if they come into contact with certain diseases. It also means they won't pass the disease on to other animals. 


When should I vaccinate my pet?

Most baby animals are protected from disease during the first few weeks of their life due to the immunity their mother passes on through her milk. After this time, they should receive their first set of shots.

  • Puppies can receive their first vaccinations from six to nine weeks. The full course of vaccinations is usually completed by the time they reach 12 weeks. For more details, chat with your local vet
  • It's important to socialise your puppy during this time, but it shouldn’t be allowed out in public areas or where there are unvaccinated dogs
  • Kittens should be vaccinated from nine weeks old, with a second dose given around 12 weeks

Once your pet has been vaccinated, it will need regular boosters throughout its life. Some of these will be annual, whereas others will be a few years apart. These boosters help maintain their immunity.


Which vaccinations will my pet need?

Your pet should be vaccinated against the main pet diseases that affect the type of animal you have.

For dogs these are:

  • Parvovirus. A potentially fatal disease that causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Canine distemper. Can cause seizures and limb weakness
  • Leptospirosis. A life threatening disease that can lead to organ failure
  • Adenovirus 1 and 2. A viral disease with two strains
  • Canine parainfluenza. Highly contagious infection, similar to a cold

Other pet vaccinations your dog may need are for kennel cough, particularly if you plan to put your dog in to kennels, and rabies, if you plan to return to the UK after travelling with your pet overseas.

For cats you should vaccinate against:

  • Cat flu
  • Feline infectious enteritis
  • Feline leukaemia virus


What if my pet is a rescue?

If you're unsure whether your pet has been vaccinated because it is a rescue animal or it has been rehomed, speak to a vet. 
Most good rehoming charities and rescue centres will vaccinate animals before they go to new homes. They'll give you details about the vaccinations your pet has had.


How much do vaccinations cost?

You can expect to pay from £30 to £60 for a course of pet vaccinations. This may sound expensive, but it's much cheaper than treating the disease itself. Vet costs for treating pet diseases can run to hundreds of pounds. It's best to make sure you have both vaccinations and pet insurance in place throughout your pet's life.

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All content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts.