Your Adopted Dog and Their Vaccinations

Your Adopted Dog and Their Vaccinations


Vaccinations are vital for keeping your dog healthy and protecting them from diseases. If you’ve recently adopted a new dog, it’s important to make sure they’re properly vaccinated – even if they’ve never received any shots before. A previously unvaccinated dog should be given a full initial course of vaccines and regular booster injections to keep them healthy.

Finding out the vaccinations your adopted dog has received

If you’ve just added a new puppy to the family, a responsible breeder will let you know what vaccinations your new pup has had so you can plan their future vaccination schedule accordingly. However, that information may be harder to come by when adopting or rescuing an adult dog, especially if there is no vaccination record to be found. If possible, you can try asking your dog’s former owners for information, or visit your vet. Vaccinations are classified as core or non-core, with core being the minimum required. Core vaccinations will protect your dog against:

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine adenovirus
  • Canine parvovirus Non-core vaccinations will protect against:
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Leptospira interrogans
  • Infectious canine tracheobronchitis

Getting records from the shelter

If you’re adopting your new dog from a charity or shelter, it’s likely they’ve given your dog a full health check and provided up-to-date vaccinations. They should also provide you with a vaccination record card, which will let you know when your dog is due for their booster shots. Make sure to keep their vaccination record in a safe place and make a note of when they’re due for their boosters.

Medical testing

If you’re unsure about what vaccinations your dog has received, your own vet will be able to test and let you know through titre testing. This means they’ll be able to measure the level of antibodies in your dog’s blood, indicating whether or not your dog has been vaccinated before. It’s used to help determine if your dog has any immunity to a virus – or if they need to be vaccinated to protect them. Here in Australia, this type of testing is available for canine distemper, canine parvovirus and canine hepatitis.

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Why it’s better to double up than not

If you’re in doubt about your dog’s vaccination history, it’s always better to double up rather than potentially leave your dog unprotected. Leaving them unvaccinated runs the risk of serious illness, disease or, even, death. Your vet will also give your dog a full health check prior to any vaccinations or boosters being administered, the vet will then give your dog the appropriate vaccines.

Making a plan with your vet to keep vaccinations up to date

Once you’re certain your dog has received all their vaccinations, it’s time to think about keeping their protection up to date. It’s best to give your dog their core vaccination boosters every 1-3 years, depending on the kind of vaccine your vet uses. If your vet has recommended your dog receive any non-core vaccinations, boosters will be needed every year. If you don’t already have a vaccination record card, your vet will provide you with one that should contain:

  • The date the vaccination was administered
  • The name of the vet
  • The brand of vaccine, including batch number and expiry date

Where the vaccination was administered They’ll also let you know when your dog is next due to be seen. Booster injections should begin roughly a year after your dog has completed their full course of vaccinations. Your vet will help you make a vaccination plan to keep your dog safe, they’ll advise you what vaccinations your dog will need going forward and when they’re due. They might suggest:

  • C3 vaccinations every three years – protecting against canine distemper, canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus
  • Annual vaccinations – protecting against parainfluenza virus, bordetella bronchiseptica and leptospira interrogans.

Vaccinations are a vital way to keep your canine companion happy and healthy for as long as possible. Even if you’re unable to find out much about your adopted dog’s history, you can still make sure they’re safe and protected going forward. To learn more about how to take the best care of your dog in other aspects of their life, visit our blog page.

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