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How much do puppy vaccinations cost?

You can expect to pay around $160-$200 a year for puppy vaccinations and $65-$105 for dogs.

Vaccinations protect your puppy from some of New Zealand’s most contagious and common canine diseases. You can expect to pay approximately $160 to $200 on puppy vaccinations. If you have routine care, pet insurance can pick up the bill for you — but we’ll address that once we describe the different puppy and dog vaccinations and their schedule.

How much do puppy and dog vaccinations cost in New Zealand?

You can expect to pay the following for your vaccinations:

  • Puppy vaccinations: $160 to $200 for all three rounds
  • Dog vaccinations: $65 to $105 annually; it varies depending on whether your dog has the kennel cough vaccine.

Which vaccines does your puppy or dog need?

According to the New Zealand Veterinary Association there are two categories of vaccines that dogs typically need. These are core vaccines and non-core vaccines.

Core vaccines

Core vaccines are for three life-threatening diseases that are extremely dangerous to your dog: canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus and canine adenovirus (or canine hepatitis). Your vet administers a vaccine to your puppy called the C3, and they need two or three rounds of the C3 between 6 and 16 weeks of age. The C3 is necessary for all dogs, no matter how you raise them or where they live in the world.

Here is a little more detail about the three diseases the C3 is designed to prevent:

  1. Canine distemper virus (CDV). This is a highly infectious, incurable and possibly fatal viral infection that begins by attacking your dog’s respiratory system and can later attack the brain and spinal cord, leading to seizures and paralysis.
  2. Canine adenovirus (CAV). Also known as canine hepatitis, this virus attacks the liver and kidneys, leading to jaundice, loss of appetite and bleeding disorders. Most dogs recover, but side effects can last for a long time.
  3. Canine parvovirus (CPV-2). Parvovirus is a highly infectious disease that lives in the faeces of infected dogs and can remain in the environment for up to a year. It attacks the digestive system, bone marrow and immune system (which makes infected dogs more susceptible to secondary infections).

Your vet may also prescribe “non-core vaccines” for puppies that live in rural areas or commonly board with other dogs.

Non-core vaccines

These vaccines aren’t necessary for all dogs, but they are necessary for certain dogs whose location, environment and lifestyle make them prone to the following diseases:

  • Parainfluenza virus (PI). This very contagious but non-life-threatening virus is one of the causes of “kennel cough”. It infects the respiratory system and can be especially devastating to dogs with weak immune systems like puppies and older dogs. It is usually given to dogs that frequently mix with other dogs, like those that board in kennels or attend dog shows.
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb). This is another cause of kennel cough, although this time a bacteria is to blame. Like PI, it is a non-life-threatening respiratory illness that you typically find in dogs that are frequently exposed to other dogs.
  • Leptospira interrogans (LI). This is a bacterium that spreads in the urine of wild animals (like rodents) and in water that carries the urine. Therefore it is more common in areas with a lot of wildlife, high rainfall or both. In many cases, the infection is mild, but it can lead to meningitis and death in severe cases.

If your vet thinks your puppy needs these non-core vaccines, they’ll administer them at the same time as the C3.

What is the difference between C3, C4 and C5?

The C3 is a single vaccine that contains all three core vaccines. If your vet decides to give your dog or puppy any non-core vaccines, they administer it with the C3. At that point, the treatment becomes known as a C4 or C5.

Here’s how it breaks down:

C3: A single medication containing all three core vaccines.
C4: The C3 plus a second medication that contains the PI vaccine.
C5: The C3 plus a second medication that combines both the PI and Bb vaccines (the two “kennel cough” illnesses).

If your dog needs a C4 or a C5, it usually takes the place of only one round of C3.

When do I need to vaccinate my puppy?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) recommends that your puppy receives three rounds of the C3 between 6 and 16 weeks of age. The organisation says your puppy should not receive its last shot before 16 weeks.

Here’s what the ideal puppy vaccination schedule looks like:

  • 6–8 weeks: C3
  • 10–12 weeks: C3 (C4 or C5 can be given in its place if the vet recommends it)
  • 16 weeks: C3

It’s essential to stick to this schedule as closely as possible for several reasons:

  • You need to allow at least four weeks between each vaccination.
  • You want to give your puppy the final vaccination no earlier than 16 weeks because this is when the dog’s immune system is most able to respond to the vaccine.
  • You want to complete the three rounds of vaccination a soon as possible so your puppy can get out into the world and socialise freely.

Some vets promote an “early finish” schedule that consists of only two C3 vaccines ending at around 10 or 12 weeks old. The WSAVA is against this and stresses that treatment at 16 weeks is the most important and should be given on schedule.

When do I need to vaccinate my adult dog?

About 12 months after the second round of puppy vaccinations (when your dog is about 15 months old), they need their first C3 “booster”, which is essentially another C3 shot. After that, they need a C3 booster every three years for the rest of their life.

If your dog needs any non-core vaccines, they need to receive them annually starting at about 15 months old.

When does a puppy get its first vaccination?

Your puppy should have its first vaccination between six and eight weeks of age. You usually collect puppies from a breeder at this time, so you may find they have already had their first vaccine. If so, the breeder will provide records to give to your vet, who then completes the final two rounds according to schedule.

Does pet insurance cover puppy and dog vaccinations?

Pet insurance helps cover some of the vaccination costs, but only if you have a policy that includes “routine care”, which covers your dog’s vaccinations, worming treatments, desexing, and even teeth cleaning.

You can find routine care insurance automatically built into most comprehensive pet insurance policies. You can also find routine care cover an optional add-on to some insurers’ accident and illness policies.

Some insurers pay up to 100% of your pet’s routine care costs up to the benefit limit listed in your policy. Others set a benefit limit for each treatment (for example, $50 a year towards vaccinations), so you will usually still have some out-of-pocket costs.

How long until my puppy is fully vaccinated?

Before you take your puppy to popular dog destinations like parks and beaches, vets recommend that you wait two weeks after your puppy’s last vaccination, usually at around 14 to 16 weeks of age. This waiting period ensures they have built up the necessary immunity to the deadly viruses that are common among dogs.

Can I take my puppy out before all of their vaccinations?

You have to be very careful about letting your puppy socialise before they are fully vaccinated, as it is easy for them to pick up one of the devastating illnesses mentioned above.

Here are some ways you can safely socialise your puppy while sticking to the recommended 16-week vaccination schedule:

  • Get them used to their home environment. From the moment you bring your puppy through the door, you should get them used to the commotion of home life. Let them play with your other pets and introduce them to a variety of stimuli like vacuum cleaners, different surfaces and people wearing different clothing like hats.
  • Take them to puppy socialisation classes. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour says that it is fine for your puppy to do some limited mixing in a socialisation class as long as it is at least seven days after their first vaccination. Ensure the facility where the trainer holds the class is completely clean and sanitised and that all the other puppies are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
  • Have friends bring their dogs to your home. If you have friends with fully vaccinated dogs, you can ask them to bring their dogs to your home. Just make sure it is at least seven days after your puppy’s first vaccination.
  • Take your puppy for walks around the block.You should always avoid dog-busy locations until after your puppy is fully vaccinated. However, you can start walking them in quiet streets to get them used to their lead. Just be careful to avoid socialising with other dogs that might not be fully vaccinated.

Whatever you do, avoid taking your puppy to dog parks or other places where numerous other dogs commonly roam.

What is worming?

Worms are nasty little parasites that can infect puppies and dogs of all ages. Most puppies are born with intestinal worms. So, in addition to their vaccines, they also need regular worming treatments.

To worm your puppy or dog, you give them a pill that kills the worms, which is different from a vaccine that prevents rather than kills an infection.

Puppies typically need to be wormed every two weeks from birth until approximately 12 weeks old. After that, they need treatment every three months. You can buy worming treatments over the counter, but make sure to follow your vet’s recommendation and remember that pet insurance doesn’t cover over-the-counter medications.

Picture: Shutterstock / Getty Images

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