Vaccinations for Dogs

We recommend all dogs are vaccinated against a number of diseases that have the potential to be very serious or fatal if contracted.  Below are the vaccines we recommend all dogs have, and the additional “optional” vaccinations we use when they are required.  Our vaccine protocols are based on recommendations by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association and The New Zealand Veterinary Association, and in accordance with what is recommended by Massey University, the Guide Dog Foundation, and the manufacturers of the vaccines.


Core Vaccinations

PUPPIES:  Distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus vaccination at 6 weeks (if possible), 9 weeks and 12 weeks & 16 weeks of age.  Leptospirosis vaccination at 9 weeks and 12 weeks of age. (If older than 9 weeks puppies will still require 2 vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis given 3 weeks apart). Kennel Cough at 12 weeks of age.

ADULT DOGS:  Vaccinate for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis and kennel cough at 1 year after last puppy vaccination.  Continue vaccinating for leptospirosis and kennel cough every year and distemper/hepatitis/parvovirus every 2-3 years after this.


What are these vaccinations protecting my dog against?

Parvo – a highly contagious virus causing sudden bloody vomiting and diarrhoea. The disease can range from mild to fatal (particularly in young animals). Parvo is still prevalent particularly in some parts of Auckland and can be transmitted even without direct contact with an affected dog.

Distemper -a virus which thanks to widespread vaccination is now uncommon.  Distemper can cause a variety of signs including respiratory disease, gastrointestinal and neurological signs and death.

Hepatitis – A serious often fatal disease, causing fever, signs of liver disease, inflammation, gastrointestinal, ocular and neurological signs. Distemper is thankfully now also uncommon thanks to vaccination.

Leptospirosis – an infection with leptospira bacteria which damages particularly the liver and kidneys and is often fatal.  Leptospirosis is spread by contact with infected animals urine. It may be spread by rodents and less frequently also other animals. Leptospirosis is generally seen north of Taupo in New Zealand, has been diagnosed in Auckland, and can also be spread to people.  For these reasons, vaccination is particularly important!


How do the vaccinations work and why is the timing, particularly of the puppy vaccinations so important?

Distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus – We use a very effective “modified live” vaccine for this.  This means the vaccine consists of live viruses that have been modified so they don’t make your dog sick, but your dog’s immune system will still make antibodies against them, and if they subsequently come in contact with the diseases they will already have antibodies present to fight them off before they cause any problems.  These vaccines are very effective and provide a long-lasting immunity.  A properly vaccinated dog has next to no chance of catching any of these diseases.

One of the only times that the vaccines may not work well is in very young animals who have some immunity to disease passed on from their mothers (maternal antibodies) – obtained in milk or before birth.  These antibodies inactivate the vaccination before the pups own immune system has a chance to react to it.  The time it takes for these to disappear varies from dog to dog.

We recommend vaccinating puppies ideally three times – at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks.  There is a chance the maternal antibodies may cause some interference with the earlier vaccinations – hence why it is particularly important that puppies are at least 12 weeks old at the last vaccination (we know the chance of any maternal antibody interference by this time is very small). The six and 9-week vaccinations are still important, as the majority of pups will not still have maternal antibodies present and will be susceptible to disease at this time.

Leptospirosis – The vaccination against this disease is made of an inactivated bacteria which also simulates antibody development, however, the immunity generated is not nearly as long-lasting as for the live virus vaccinations.  To receive adequate protection, dogs require an initial series of 2 vaccinations three weeks apart (no matter what age they are when they receive the first vaccination) and a vaccination once a year thereafter. When given according to the correct schedule the vaccination for leptospirosis is very effective.

Kennel Cough 

The name “Kennel Cough” refers to a group of diseases causing an infectious cough transmitted from dogs to other dogs.  A vaccine is available against the most common bacterial cause (a bacteria similar to the one that causes whooping cough in people) and one of the more common viral causes.

These vaccinations are not 100% preventative – vaccinated dogs can still catch kennel cough but are less likely to, and if they do the disease is not likely to be as severe and they are likely to recover quicker.

We recommend the vaccinations for dogs going into boarding kennels, doggy daycare or a dog that is walked regularly with other dogs, or areas where they mix closely with many different dogs on a regular basis. There are two ways to give the vaccination.

Intranasal Vaccination – Rather than an injection this is a “squirt up the nose.”  Dogs immune systems respond quickly to one vaccination, and the vaccination lasts one year.  The vaccine should be done at least 72 hours before boarding (some kennels will require it to be done at least 2 weeks before boarding).  Occasionally dogs can experience mild coughing/sneezing after the vaccination.

Injectable Vaccination – This is an injectable vaccine given under the skin like the main vaccinations. It does not stimulate the immune system as strongly so requires an initial course of two vaccinations three weeks apart and then must continue to be given once yearly.  (If the yearly dose is missed an initial course of two vaccinations should be given again).

We hope this has been useful to you, please do not hesitate to discuss any questions you may have with one of our veterinarians.  Information last updated March 2018