Gawler Veterinary Services (Willaston)

08 8522 2055

Dog Vaccination

Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in your dogs. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect your pet and the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires puppies to be given their initial course of vaccinations, then adult dogs require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.

Puppy Vaccination
Puppies are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first few months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary in a puppy, starting between 6 and 8 weeks of age.

Adult Dog Vaccination
The immunity from puppy vaccination weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.  Vaccination for parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis is now given every 3 years to adult dogs.  Canine cough prevention needs a yearly vaccination booster.

After Vaccination Care
Following vaccination your dog may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact your vet for advice.

Please call to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet puppy or dog.


Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is a disease that affects dogs of all ages but is most serious in young puppies and older dogs. The virus attacks the intestines causing bloodstained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration despite intensive veterinary care.

It is not necessary for your dog to have direct contact with other dogs to be exposed to the disease. The virus is so persistent that it can live in the environment for years.  You can pick up the virus on your shoes and carry it into your house and garden, or your dog can come into contact with the virus when out on a walk.  If an infected dog has been in your yard, it can be impossible to completely disinfect the yard, and the virus may still be there in 7 years time!

Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen several parvovirus outbreaks, usually during late spring and summer.  Your pet's only protection against parvovirus is regular vaccination.

Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect dogs of any age with young puppies being at highest risk.

Symptoms vary but can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease. Treatment is usually ineffective and the recovery rate very low. Dogs that do recover may have permanent brain damage.

​Thanks to a highly effective vaccination, canine distemper is much rarer than it once was, but the virus is still present, so your pet still needs protection via vaccination.

Canine Hepatitis
Canine hepatitis is a viral disease which, like distemper is extremely contagious and often fatal. Dogs of any age can become infected, however severe cases are rare in dogs over two years of age.

Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases death can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems and can act as carriers spreading the disease to other dogs for many months.  Fortunately, regular vaccination has greatly reduced how often this virus is seen now.

Canine Cough
Canine cough is a condition produced by any one of several highly agents, which can be easily spread wherever dogs congregate.  Your dog may pick up the disease through any contact with infected dogs, but are most at risk in parks, shows, obedience schools and boarding kennels. Among the infectious agents associated with canine cough is the bacterium known as Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine viruses parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and distemper.

Affected dogs have a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks. While rarely life-threatening, it is distressing for you and your dog. It can be a major problem for working and sporting dogs. Pneumonia can also be a consequence of infection in severe, untreated cases.  If you hear your dog coughing, please make an appointment to see your vet before it gets worse.


Clostridium tetani is a bacteria that lives in soil that produces resilient spores which last for long periods.  When these spores infect a deep wound, they can reactivate and multiply, and produce a toxin leading to tetanus.

Signs of tetanus include erect ears and tail, and localised or whole body muscle tremors, worsened by noise.  Treatment often requires intensive care and may not be successful when severe signs are seen.  An antitoxin is available to give at the time of injury if your dog is at risk and tetanus vaccination has not been carried out.

If your dog is working on a farm, or you live in a semi-rural area, your dog is more at risk of developing tetanus and vaccination is recommended.