Why vaccinate?

Vaccination is an important part of a complete dog health care programme. It helps prevent and control the spread of infectious disease that could prove potentially fatal to your guide dog. The vaccines we use contain a weakened form of the organism that the dog needs protecting against.  It works by stimulating the dog’s immune system to produce its own defence against the infection.

What diseases can be vaccinated against?

Some of the major infectious diseases which guide dogs are vaccinated against include:


This is an extremely infectious viral disease that typically affects younger dogs although dogs of all ages can become infected.  The disease causes the intestines of the dog to become inflamed leading to severe stomach upsets and dehydration.  In very young puppies, the heart may also become inflamed. The virus is extremely hardy in the environment and can survive for many months outside of the animal.


This is another highly contagious viral disease. It produces a variety of signs but the most obvious are sneezing, coughing and an unpleasant eye and nose discharge. In more advanced stages of the disease the virus often attacks the nervous system causing fits and paralysis. A dog can be infected without coming into contact with an infected animal as areas used by infected dogs such as kennels and runs can harbour the virus. It may also be airborne.


This is a viral disease that is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact through saliva, urine and faeces.  Once infected, the virus targets the liver causing it to become enlarged and inflamed. The virus may also damage the eyes and kidneys. Dogs that are recovering from the disease may continue to harbour the virus and act as carriers, spreading the disease to other dogs by direct contact.


There are several different types of leptospira that can affect the kidneys and liver of susceptible dogs. Leptospirosis organisms are found in ponds, streams and rivers in the UK and are passed by direct dog-to-dog contact. One form of this disease can be transmitted to people. This is known as Weils disease.

Given the important role of guide dogs, under UK law they are allowed access to places that pet dogs may not. These include restaurants, shops and some hospitals. We must therefore be confident that there is no risk to the general public from transmissible diseases and in addition there is no risk to guide dogs from other unprotected dogs that they may come into contact with. As a result, Guide Dogs has implemented a vaccination programme, under the guidance of experts in the field of immunology and vaccine manufacturers, which provides maximum protection for our dogs against these diseases.

For further information about our current vaccination policy please contact your local Dog Care and Welfare Advisor.

What does Guide Dogs recommend?

Guide Dogs recommends that boosters which ‘top up’ the dog’s immunity are given once a dog is qualified and placed with its new owner.  These will be administered by the owner's veterinary surgeon at intervals as recommended by the vaccine manufacturer. The boosters will remind the dog's immune system how to defend itself against certain diseases should it be challenged.

Do guide dogs get free vaccinations?

Vaccine manufactures supply vaccines free of charge to Guide Dogs' puppies and dogs. If you own a guide dog or puppy, simply ask your vet to complete a vaccine reclaim card at the time of your dog's vaccination. The reclaim card can be found at the back of your guide dog health record booklet and your vet should send it off to the relevant manufacturer. The manufacturers will then reimburse your vet on receipt of a completed reclaim card. Please ensure that your vet submits a veterinary surgeon's report informing your local Dog Care and Welfare Advisor of the vaccination given so we can keep our records updated. Where can I go for further information?

For guide dog owners: Should you have any further queries regarding vaccinations or any other aspects of your dogs health, please contact the Dog Care and Welfare Advisor.

For pet owners: Please contact your local veterinary surgeon.