Puppy Vaccinations: When Can Puppies Go for Walks?

The information in this article was reviewed and approved by registered veterinary nurse, Beth Walker

Animed Veterinary Nurse, Beth Walker

As the owner of a new puppy, you’re probably very excited to take your new furry friend for their first walk! However, you might be unsure about when it is safe to do so. Puppy vaccinations are essential to making sure that your dog doesn’t pick up any nasty diseases. Only once your dog has completed the course of their puppy vaccine schedule and waited for the protection to kick in should they take their first steps outside or mix with other dogs.

So when can puppies go for walks? How many vaccinations do they need, and how long must they wait after their vaccinations before going out? To answer all your questions, here is our guide to puppy vaccinations to get you ready for that all-important first walk!

Why Are Puppy Vaccinations Important?

Mixing with other animals is a key part of socialising a new puppy. But meeting other dogs and going out and about also exposes puppies to all sorts of bacteria and viruses. Without vaccinations to protect them, these diseases can prove fatal.

Standard puppy vaccinations offer protection against the following diseases:

  • Canine distemper – can lead to pneumonia and inflammation of the brain
  • Canine parvovirus – a highly contagious and often fatal disease that causes vomiting and bloody diarrhoea
  • Infectious canine hepatitis – caused by canine adenovirus, which attacks the liver as well as the kidneys, spleen and lungs. It can cause sudden death in puppies
  • Leptospirosis – a bacterial infection that attacks the liver and kidney, making your dog very ill. The bacteria are found in stagnant water, such as rivers and ponds

As well as the standard puppy vaccinations against the diseases listed above, your vet may also offer additional vaccinations for:

  • Kennel cough – a respiratory condition caused by either a bacteria (Bordetella bronchiseptica) or a virus (parainfluenza). While rarely serious, your dog may need a kennel cough vaccinations if they will be staying in a boarding kennel, or if they have a weakened immune system
  • Rabies – a fatal disease, but not present in the UK. Your dog will usually only need a rabies vaccination if they are going abroad

How Do Puppy Vaccinations Work?

Puppy being vaccinated

As with human vaccinations, your puppy will receive a harmless version of the diseases above so that they develop immunity against them. This means your puppy’s body will be able to recognise and fight the diseases if they encounter them for real in the future.

To maintain maximum protection against these diseases, your dog will need booster vaccinations once a year. Your vet will be able to tell you exactly what they need. It will depend on your dog’s individual risk level and the brand of vaccine used.

To successfully keep infectious diseases under control, vaccination programmes require high levels of uptake within the population. If lots of dogs routinely miss their vaccinations, the likelihood of these diseases becoming more common will increase.

Puppy Vaccine Schedule: When Should My Puppy Be Vaccinated?

If their mother has been vaccinated and kept up to date with her booster vaccinations, most puppies will have received some antibodies from their mother’s milk. This will offer them a degree of protection in the early weeks of their life. Once these antibodies fall, your puppy will need their own vaccinations to protect them.

The first vaccination in the primary course is usually given when your puppy is six weeks old. This means your puppy should already have had their first vaccination while with the breeder or animal shelter they came from.

This is followed by a second vaccine, usually two to four weeks later depending on the brand. The vet or animal shelter who gave your puppy their first vaccination will tell you exactly when their second is needed.

This means that in total, puppies usually need two vaccinations in their primary course, though some may need a third. This will depend on the brand of vaccine as well as the age of your puppy, as some may not have their jabs at the usual time.

After their initial puppy vaccinations, dogs need annual boosters.

Can I Walk My Puppy After the First Vaccination?

A puppy that has only had their first vaccination will not be fully protected. They need to have had their full course of puppy vaccinations to be able to go out safely.

However, it’s ok for your puppy to socialise with other fully vaccinated dogs in safe areas like your own garden where you know no unfamiliar dogs have been.

How Long After the Second Puppy Vaccination Can They Go Out?

Vaccination protocols will vary so check this with your vet. However, most vets would advise waiting one or two weeks after the second vaccination before walking your puppy in public or socialising with other animals. For some pups, it can take as long as four weeks after their final injection to be fully protected.

As well as having their puppy vaccinations, your dog will need to be vaccinated again about a year later. This is for their annual booster. The specific booster vaccination required may vary year upon year due to manufacturer’s recommendations, practice policy or as new scientific studies emerge. Currently, dogs will typically have a booster vaccination against leptospirosis vaccine every year. Every three years, they’ll have a booster against canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus and canine distemper vaccines.

How Much Do Puppy Vaccinations Cost?

The cost of your puppy’s vaccinations will depend on the veterinary practice, the brand of vaccinations and the area you live in. In general though, puppy vaccinations usually cost between £90 and £115.

Your dog’s annual booster vaccinations are usually a bit less expensive, costing around £70 to £90.

Some vet practices offer ways to help with the cost of vaccinations. For example, a membership with the Healthy Pet Club can help you save money and spread the cost of vaccinations as well as other essential veterinary care.

Wrapping Up

Puppies should be fully vaccinated and need to have waited long enough after their primary vaccinations before going on a walk or socialising with unfamiliar dogs. This is to make sure that they do not pick up diseases before they have protection against them. Although perfectly safe, your puppy may be a bit tired on vaccination days as their immune system has been challenged. It is also not uncommon for the vaccination site to be itchy or slightly irritated, but speak to your vet if you have any concerns. Similarly, if you would like specific clarification on when your puppy is allowed to go on walks, please check with your vet.