Vaccinating your pet: The ultimate guide

Sindi Barrios

When we get a new kitten or puppy it’s easily one of the most exciting moments to prepare for. However, it’s important to take care of their health as soon as they arrive home by registering them with a well-trusted vet and booking them in for their vaccines. It’s estimated that around 77.9% of pets are vaccinated, with small pets being the most neglected.

Why should you vaccinate your pet?

The risk of not getting your pet vaccinated can be really dangerous for their health and the pets they socialise with. With diseases including distemper or parvo, your pet can suffer from symptoms including bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, anorexia, and dehydration making them weak and with a severely damaged quality of life.

There are lots of reasons to get your pet vaccinated but the most important ones being:

– Protect your pets from life-shortening diseases

– Peace of mind from being a responsible pet owner

– Give your pet the strength and defence they need to live well without passing on diseases to other pets

Unfortunately, if you don’t vaccinate your pet you not only provide them with protection but can put other pets and animals at risk also. Even if your pet catches a disease and manages to recover, they can be left with life-changing health problems which can lower their quality of life and put them in pain and discomfort.

What kind of diseases can your pet get if unvaccinated?


A serious disease like distemper can affect your pet’s systems quickly and harshly. With gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts being affected, the brain and spinal cord can also suffer with common symptoms including high fever, eye inflammation, heavy breathing and coughing as well as vomiting and diarrhoea.


This savage disease can affect your pet quickly and make them extremely ill. From nausea, a loss of appetite and severe diarrhoea, this virus attacks the cell lining in the intestinal wall and cause rapid dehydration while possibly causing septic shock in the immune system.


Sadly, rabies are already a major threat in today’s society. Killing tens of thousands of people each year, rabies can not only spread to your pet but to you as well. The first symptoms can evolve after a few days including tingling, prickling or an itching feeling around the bite area. This can then develop into a fever, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite and in extreme cases, a loss of life.


This disease can affect your pet and yourself, with high fever, headaches, chills, muscle aches and vomiting. Leptospirosis can cause kidney failure and many pets can also cause severe lung disease and promote difficulty breathing.

Lyme Disease

Many pets can suffer with Lyme disease from parasites and other worms. It can cause fever, a loss of appetite and painful or swollen joints. Other effects if left untreated include damage of the kidneys, nervous system and heart, making the development fatal in extreme cases.

When should you vaccinate your pet?

For the first few weeks of your pet’s life, they are safe at home from dangerous diseases or other pets. Thanks to their mother’s milk, your pet will have a level of immunity that can support them as they grow and develop. Vets have designed vaccination programmes to benefit your pet from their early years, usually at about eight weeks old however rabbits can be vaccinated as early as five weeks old. However, it’s important to make sure your pet is getting their booster vaccines too. This will start from 10 weeks old and then again receive their booster jabs. Your pet can start to go out and about two weeks after their second vaccination.

Your adult pet can benefit hugely from a primary vaccine, if they miss them, they may need to restart the programme. The booster can depend on their overall health and may be adjusted based on the diseases which are common in your living area or where they spend time. The benefits to vaccinating your pet include:

– Your pet can now socialise

– They can explore outdoors

– Your companion can a longer and healthier life

– Prevention of expensive vet bills in the long term

How much do vaccines cost?

Vaccinations vary in cost but on average can be around £30-£60. While that may seem a lot, opting out from a weekend takeaway can keep your pet healthy and safe for the same price.

How to get started when vaccinating your pet…

Now we know how important it is to have your pet vaccinated, understanding where to start is the next step. Simply ring your veterinary surgery and request a booking for their vaccines, they will be able to help you understand when to vaccinate them and when their boosters are due. Up until they’re vaccinated, keep your pet away from other pets especially if they’re also unvaccinated and avoid going for walks or out and about.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!