The Core Vaccinations Your Dog Should Get

All advice given is general in nature. If you have any immediate or specific concerns, please talk to your vet.


Vaccinating your dog is one of the best things you can do to protect them from contagious and potentially dangerous diseases. In Australia, vaccinations are split into two categories, core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those considered essential for all dogs, while non-core vaccines are optional and will be recommended based on things such as location and lifestyle.

It's important to get your dog vaccinated as early as possible, so they are protected while their immune systems are still developing. Canine parvovirus, canine distemper and canine adenovirus are all covered by core vaccines administered as routine to all puppies, as these illnesses pose the largest threat to dogs in Australia. Your vet will be able to advise if additional non-core vaccinations are suitable for your dog.

Common preventable diseases in dogs

Canine parvovirus

(Core vaccine)
Canine parvovirus is a very infectious, and potentially fatal, viral disease that is spread among dogs via direct contact and through bodily fluids, such as poop and vomit. Parvovirus can be very dangerous for unvaccinated dogs, as it attacks the lining of the intestines and stops the absorption of vital nutrients. The best way to protect them is to vaccinate them as a puppy and to keep up their boosters throughout their life.

Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness
  • Dehydration

Canine distemper

(Core vaccine)
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of dogs. Dogs usually become infected after airborne exposure (coughing and sneezing) or by sharing a water or food bowl with an infected animal. Sadly, it’s incurable and often fatal, so it’s incredibly important to get your dog vaccinated against it.

Symptoms of Canine Distemper:

  • Cough
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Diarrhoea
  • High temperature
  • Thickened paw pads
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Paralysis

Canine adenovirus

(Core vaccine)
Canine adenovirus Type-1, also known as canine hepatitis, is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver, as well as harm to blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, lungs, and heart. Dogs can catch it from contact with an infected dog, through bodily fluids or from contaminated items. A dog with a mild case can have a good chance of survival if they receive rapid treatment, but, sadly, a severe case can often be fatal. Dogs that have had the virus can still shed it in their urine up to 9 months after recovery, so vaccination is the best way to protect your dog from the silent threat.

Symptoms of Canine Adenovirus:


  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing


  • Pale gums
  • Painful, swollen belly
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
Month2 - Core Vaccs Infographic_FA_Dog Vax

Other vaccines to consider

A dog’s risk of contracting certain diseases can vary depending on where they live and what animals they come into contact with. Other non-core vaccinations may be suitable for them if you’re in a high-risk location, you plan on travelling overseas with them, or their lifestyle involves interaction with lots of other dogs or animals, such as livestock.

Infectious canine tracheobronchitis

Often referred to as ‘canine cough’, this common upper respiratory illness is caused by viruses and bacterial infections, including adenovirus type-2, parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica. While most dogs will recover without treatment, symptoms such as a dry, hacking cough, and runny eyes and nose can linger for a few weeks. A non-core vaccination is available to protect your dog and prevent the spread.

Parainfluenza virus

This highly contagious respiratory infection is usually mild, but it can lead to other related illnesses, such as canine cough. A non-core vaccination is available to protect your dog and prevent outbreaks. Symptoms include a hacking cough, runny eyes and nose, sneezing and lethargy.

Bordetella bronchiseptica

Another highly contagious upper respiratory infection that can lead to canine cough. It causes a hacking cough, runny eyes and nose, and lethargy. While most dogs will recover without treatment, a non-core vaccination is available to protect your dog and prevent the spread.

Canine leptospirosis

While this is covered by a non-core vaccine, canine leptospirosis has become more common in certain regions of Australia. It’s therefore recommended that you ask your vet for advice. If contracted, the bacterial disease damages vital organs, such as the liver and kidneys, and can cause serious illness.


Whilst Australia is largely rabies-free, the rabies vaccination may be recommended if you are planning on travelling overseas with your dog. If contracted, rabies can be very dangerous for dogs and humans, with symptoms including irritability, aggression, fever, drooling, and seizures.

When should you vaccinate your dog

You should start vaccinating your dog when they’re a puppy as their immune system is still developing and they’re more likely to become seriously ill if they catch something. The advised [puppy vaccination schedule] starts at six to eight weeks old, with two additional vaccination sets at four-week intervals. This includes their three core vaccinations, as well as any additional non-core vaccinations you decide upon. Adult dogs also need regular boosters to maintain their immunity throughout their life. While these illnesses may sound concerning, by vaccinating your dog you can provide them with good protection. Plus, thanks to vaccinations, previously common diseases are now increasingly rare. Be sure to stay on track with your dog’s booster schedule to keep them happy and healthy. You can find more information about vaccinations and caring for your dog on our Petcare Blog.


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