Dog vaccines during the Covid-19 crisis
Can I have my dog vaccinated during lockdown?
At the moment, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) advice remains that vets across the UK should only carry out emergency and essential treatment for pets, and that they will need to maintain social distancing at all times to protect their staff, clients and the NHS. This means that many routine procedures, such as vaccinations, won’t be possible at this time, although this may vary from practice to practice, based on their situation.
While this may put dogs at a higher risk of catching certain diseases if their vaccination protection runs out during lockdown, it will enable vets to continue treating emergency cases and the sickest pets, comply with social distancing guidelines and protect the health of the general public as well as veterinary staff.
Keeping your unvaccinated puppy safe
An unvaccinated puppy, or a puppy that has only had their first injection, won’t have any protection against parvovirus, leptospirosis, distemper and infectious hepatitis (canine adenovirus).
- Your puppy is safe to go into your garden as long as no unvaccinated dogs have visited recently and it is secure from foxes.
- Don’t let your puppy to go on the ground in public spaces at all until they have completed their vaccination course
- Areas where there could have been rats, cows, foxes or other unvaccinated dogs present the most risk
- You can take your puppy out as part of your once daily exercise but make sure you carry them and don’t put them down. Be aware that others may see your puppy and be tempted to come over to say hi, but please make sure you maintain a social distance of at least 2 metres for everyone’s safety.
- Don’t allow your puppy to meet any dogs outside of your household and don’t bring any new dogs into your home.
- We have a created a guide to help you to safely socialise you puppy during lockdown.
- If your puppy has missed their second injection, it’s likely they will need to restart their vaccination course once restrictions have been lifted, its best to discuss this with your vet at that time.
Keeping your unvaccinated dog safe
If your dog has had regular vaccinations throughout their life, they are likely to have some protection covering them for approximately two - three months after the date their vaccine was due. However, once this time has lapsed, they will be at risk of catching some of the diseases we vaccinate against.
- Keep your dog away from others. While normally, it’s a great idea for dogs to play together, during lockdown you need to keep them apart. This is for their own protection (because many dogs will have missed their vaccine boosters), and also because there is a possibility that, just like any other surface, dogs can potentially carry the virus on their fur if they are from a home where someone has COVID-19, and could pass it to your dog when they are playing.
- Try to avoid walking in areas where many other dogs have been. Perhaps consider walking on a quiet footpath instead of visiting the local park.
- Avoid places that farm animals and rats live such as farm fields, or ponds, stagnant water and rivers, as there is a higher risk of leptospirosis in these places.
- Try other activities at home to keep your dog entertained while they aren’t able to go out for as many walks, for instance try teaching them some new tricks or refresh their obedience training and why not try scatter feeding or using puzzle feeders instead of their normal bowl.
When can I have my dog vaccinated again?
Once lockdown is over and the government guidance for social distancing has been lifted, veterinary practices are likely to start offering vaccination appointments again. Contact your vet once they are offering a full service to discuss how to get your dog back up to date with their vaccinations.
Published: 16 April 2020
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Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst