vaccination regime

This is a UK website, with general information on UK dog vaccinations

What vaccinations should my dog be having?


How frequently should my dog be vaccinated?

The first thing to remember with your dog's vaccination injection shot, is that it will not usually just consist of one vaccine but a cocktail of vaccinations. Please read on to understand more about dog vaccinations.


The second thing to remember is that as with all vaccines, whilst the majority will be able to use the vaccine to create immunity to the diseases - a small number of the target species will not take on immunity from the vaccine no matter how many injections they have, and a small number will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

For correct advice on vaccines, their use and frequency, please look at the websites of the following organisations.

Core and Non-core vaccines

Vaccines are broken down in to Core vaccines and Non core vaccines. Core vaccines are ones that must be given to protect the dog in that country from those diseases, with those diseases being widespread across the world. Non core vaccines are vaccines for diseases that are either specific to a certain country, or for a disease which has different strains in different countries.

The UK dog vaccines are 

Authorised UK dog vaccines include DHP, Pi, L, L4, KC

So vaccines are referred to by the Identifying Initial, which makes it a lot easier to list

Note about Non-core vaccines

The UK is currently Rabies free, and your dog will only need the rabies vaccine if you are taking it out of the UK, or bringing it in from another country.

The Kennel Cough vaccine is only usually required if you put your dog in boarding kennels, and is not usually administered.

UK Lepto vaccines

To complicate things further, the lepto vaccine is now available in three different versions

The current multi strain Lepto vaccines authorised in the UK by VMD and EMA in 2016 are as follows

Lepto 3 and Lepto 4 vaccines in the UK

But it should be remembered that the chance of your dog having an adverse reaction to a 4 strain Lapto vaccine is far greater than to a 2 strain lepto vaccine.

Potential adverse reaction event if vaccinated with L2 or L4 Lepto vaccine

Identifying the vaccines given to your dog

As shown above, all vaccines are known by an initial to save saying or writing the whole name of all the vaccines. So the cocktail of Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus vaccines is given as one and known as DHP.

Hepatitis is called Adenovirus by some manufacturers, so their vaccine is DAP instead of DHP.

Below are some examples of vaccine labels, taken from the vaccine bottles and put on the dog's Health Record

Examples of dog vaccines

So we can see from the example below that in September 2012, the dog had been given the cocktail of vaccines DHPPI + L2

Red border to highlight the dog vaccines given

You will notice that the example above has two labels - DHPPI + Lepto 2. Like the vaccine Pi, the cocktail of DHP and DHPPi are supplied as freeze-dried powder in a bottle. It is necessary for the powder to be reconstituted (turned in to a liquid), and this is done by the vet taking all of the liquid from a second bottle and injecting that into the DHP or DHPPi bottle and mixing it, before injecting the whole cocktail subcutaneously under the dog's skin. The liquid used to reconstitute the powder can be either of the vaccines L, LC, Rabies, or if the owner just wishes for DHP without the second vaccine then a solvent or sterile diluent is used in place of a second vaccine bottle. 

Pharmaceutical companies make bottled solvent specifically for this purpose so that the dog does not have to be given Lepto in order to receive the core vaccines of DHP.

Nobivac Solvent diluant for reconstituting dog vaccines Pi, DHP and DHPPi


There is clear guidance from official sources on how often a dog should be vaccinated. Vets are supposed to advise the client on the risk to known diseases in the area, and risk of known diseases where the client intends to take their dogs to abroad. This is so that the client can make an informed decision on what vaccination regime their dog should have.

Nobivac Solvent diluant for canine vaccines Pi, DHP and DHPPi
Veterinary advice on giving L2 or L4 vaccine

Some vaccine related acronyms and their meanings

Duration Of Immunity - DOI.

Length of time that clinical trials have shown a dog to have immunity against a disease following vaccination for that disease

Maternally Derived Antibody - MDA.

Means the antibodies from the mother in the pup's blood might interfere with the pup being able to use the vaccine to form immunity against a disease. MDA can last 14 to 16 weeks, but is falling off over the whole period.

MDA - maternally-derived antibody in the blood of a puppy can interfere with vaccinations

The general advice is for the dog to have their puppy shots, and then have a second course at 1 year to ensure that the dog has used the vaccines to create immunity. After that, the three core vaccines should be given every three years maximum, with vaccines like Lepto and parainfluenza only being given if there is risk in the area.

Why Lepto is given 2 to 4 weeks apart
A traditional dog vaccination routine

Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus diseases are unpleasant and usually fatal to all dogs. This is why puppies are vaccinated against them from an early age. Pups are not supposed to be separated from their mother until at least 8 weeks of age. Owners of new pups like to get them out and walk them as soon as they get the pup, but this is not good for the pup's leg joints which are still soft and developing. So the general guidance is to vaccinate at 6 to 8 weeks to give the pup some protection to these diseases in case the mother didn't have immunity herself. A second shot of the DHP cocktail is given 2 weeks later in case MDA stopped the dog from creating immunity from the first shot.

But there is an alternative

An alternative UK dog vaccination routine

See WSAVA New puppy owner vaccination guidelines 2013 for advice shown above 


Titre testing - what is it

Titre is pronounced "Tight er"

Titre test is when blood is drawn from the dog and tested for immunity against the Core diseases. Titre-testing enables us to measure the amount of antibodies that a dog has to the three main viral diseases — Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus (DHP). It is not possible to test for protection to Lepto or Bordetella as the immunity against these bacterial diseases is rather different and high levels of antibodies are generally only seen when an animal is fighting disease. However studies have determined that the protection against these bacterial diseases is generally short-lived i.e. less than 18 months. 

It is important that the dog is protected against the core diseases of Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. Traditionally, dogs receive the DHP cocktail every 3 years, but clinical trials have shown some dogs have a DOI of at least 8 years. To save your  dog needlessly having the DHP vaccine, you can have a Titre test to see what level of immunity the dog has to D, H and P.

There are two ways to do a Titre test. My vet sends my dogs' blood to Glasgow University so that I have authenticated results to display on However, a cheaper way has been developed that your vet can quickly do in their own surgery. There are now a number of vets stocking Vacci-Check, and here is a map of the participating surgeries. 

Note that the dog's blood can only be Titre tested for immunity against DHP. Titre testing cannot be used to test for Immunity against the other diseases, such as Lepto due to the type of vaccine used.

It would appear that the general price (Apr 2017) for one of the vets on the map below to titre test your dog for immunity against DHP in house using Vaccicheck is around £35. If the dog is then found to need the DHP vaccine, it will be around a further £30 to £35.

Video of Dr Schultz talking about Core DHP vaccines and Titre testing

Map of UK vets who stock Vaccicheck

Or click on this line to go to the map in a new window

Being given the wrong or specifically unrequested vaccines

There is a growing rise of vets giving vaccines too frequently, or of giving vaccines that have not been agreed upon or requested by the client.

Examples of this being giving Lepto vaccine to reconstitute the DHP vaccine, instead of using the solvent diluent to reconstitute the DHP powder. Or of giving DHPPi + L4 when the client specifically asks for Pi+L2.

So it is best to fully understand vaccines and the risks in your area before speaking to your vet

Documents by WSAVA on vaccinations

WSAVA article for Puppy owners - 2013


WSAVA Guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats - 2015


WSAVA Guidelines for owners and breeders of dogs - 2015


WSAVA Core vaccines Guidelines - Pictorial FactSheets - 2010

WSAVA Core-vaccines-Guidelines-Pictorial-FactSheets-2010.pdf