From food to toys to healthcare, getting a new pet is a significant financial commitment. Cats and dogs are frequently the most expensive to take care of, often costing their owners thousands of pounds over the course of their lifetime through food, vet care, pet insurance and other expenses.
One of the biggest expenses when you first get a kitten or a puppy is paying for their vaccinations. As we’ll explore further, both initial vaccinations and keeping up with boosters is important to give your new companion the best chance at living a long and healthy life.
What you may not know is that there’s no standard cost for vaccinating a cat or a dog. The cost will vary from clinic to clinic, and where you live could make a considerable difference to how much you’ll have to pay.
To find out how much these costs can vary, we researched 165 veterinary clinics in England, Scotland, and Wales and gathered prices for kitten and puppy vaccination packages, as well as annual boosters for grown-up cats and dogs.
Vaccinating your puppy
Puppies are vaccinated once when they’re aged between eight and 10 weeks old and again two to four weeks later.
According to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), the core vaccines a puppy should get are canine distemper (CDV), parvovirus (CPV), infectious canine hepatitis (CAV), and leptospirosis.
Kennel cough, which is an upper respiratory infection in dogs similar to a human cold, is not a core vaccine. It's recommended for dogs that spend a lot of time with other dogs, for example in kennels.
The cost of puppy vaccinations (first and second round of vaccinations)
In Britain, we found that the average cost of the primary puppy vaccination package (including both sets of injections) is £68. Most vets didn't offer the kennel cough vaccine as part of this package. If kennel cough is included in the package, the average cost is £78.
While most clinics we asked charged extra for the kennel cough vaccine as it wasn’t a core disease, some clinics offered a discounted rate for the kennel cough vaccine when done at the same time as another vaccine – so it’s worth asking your vet about any discounts if your dog is having a kennel cough vaccine done.
Vaccinating your dog
Your dog needs annual boosters of vaccinations against common diseases to keep them healthy as they grow up. The booster vaccine against leptospirosis should be given annually.
Other vaccinations might only be given every one-three years, depending on the level of risk, which your vet will advise on.
The cost of annual dog booster vaccinations in Britain
In Britain, we found that the average cost for an annual booster for dogs is £47. That price doesn’t include the kennel cough vaccination. With kennel cough included, the average cost of a booster is £64.
The most and least expensive counties for annual dog booster vaccinations
According to our survey of 165 vets, the most expensive county in England to get an annual booster vaccination for your dog is Berkshire, where the average cost is £64.09. Derbyshire ranks as the cheapest county, with the average booster vaccination costing £29.67.
It was interesting to find that the cost of vaccinating a pet doesn’t necessarily track with that area’s general cost of living. Scotland and Wales were some of the most expensive areas to vaccinate your puppy or dog, despite having a generally lower cost of living. In contrast, London, known for it’s high cost of living was not one of the most expensive.
Annual booster vs restart costs
If your dog has missed their annual vaccinations, you can expect to pay for a course of primary vaccines to catch them back up again. The price will depend on the clinic and you should always check with your local vet on the right thing to do for your particular circumstances.
Titre testing is a blood test that your vet can do to show which illnesses your dog already has immunity against, but it doesn't replace vaccinations and pets will still need to have had their initial course.
"Some individuals choose to titre test following these primary core vaccines," says veterinary surgeon Dr Sophie Bell. "This involves a blood test to look for the antibody levels. If they are moderate to high, vaccination may not take place that year but if they are low a booster will be required.
"It is important to note that some establishments such as boarding kennels, will not be able to board your dogs based on a titre test alone. They often require full vaccination history."
There will be a cost to performing the titre test as well and it might not be lower than the cost of an annual booster.
Vaccinating your kitten
Kittens have a similar vaccine schedule to puppies. The recommended primary course of vaccination in the UK is two sets of injections: one when the kitten is nine weeks old and the next at 12 weeks old.
The core vaccines that kittens receive work to protect against severe diseases like feline parvovirus (FPV), feline calicivirus (FCV), and feline herpesvirus (FHV).
FeLV (feline leukaemia) is not a core vaccine and its necessity depends on the cat’s lifestyle and local environment. Outdoor cats are recommended to get the leukaemia vaccine.
The cost of vaccinating your kitten in Britain (first and second round of vaccinations)
In Great Britain, the average cost of the primary vaccination course for a kitten (including both sets of vaccinations and the FeLV vaccine) is £73. Scotland ranks as the country within Britain with the highest average cost (£82) of vaccinating a kitten.
The cost of vaccinating your kitten in Britain with and without feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) included
Though FeLV (feline leukaemia) is not a traditional core vaccine, our research showed that a large majority (96%) of the veterinary clinics we surveyed offer the vaccine as part of their primary vaccination package.
While the average price of obtaining a FeLV-inclusive vaccine is higher than without, it’s worth paying the difference if your kitten needs it.
Vaccinating your cat
Cats need to receive a vaccination booster every year to top up their immunity for serious diseases. We asked the clinics in our research how much they charged for annual cat vaccinations to find out where in Britain booster jabs are the priciest.
The cost of cat vaccinations in Britain
We discovered that the most expensive place to get an annual booster vaccination for a cat is Surrey, where the average cost is £62.99 among the vets that we surveyed. Derbyshire ranks as the cheapest with an average cost of £29.67 for a cat’s annual booster.
The average overall cost in Great Britain for a cat booster including FeLV was £49.55.
Annual booster vs restart costs
If your cat has missed their vaccinations, you’ll usually need to pay the cost of the primary course to restart. As this article demonstrates, what that’ll cost you will vary from clinic to clinic, but always check with your local vet if you’re not sure what’s best.
Which towns and cities have the best access to vets for cat and dog owners?
We compared the number of cat and dog-owner households in Britain’s towns and cities to the number of vets registered in each location on Google Maps Business Directory to gain an idea of which locations have the easiest access to veterinary clinics.
In London, we calculated that there are 1,294 cat and/or dog-owning households for every clinic registered on Google – more than any other town or city in our analysis. In contrast, the North West city of Carlisle ranks as the location with the fewest pet owners (four) per clinic.
Four reasons why you should get your cat or dog vaccinated
These are the top reasons to get your pet vaccinated and keep up with their boosters.
1. For their own health
The main reason you should vaccinate your pets is that it gives them a lot of protection against common and often fatal diseases. Vaccinations work by stimulating the immune system of your pet and making them better equipped to deal with diseases they may come into contact with.
Even if your pet does survive an initial brush with a nasty illness, lots of diseases can cause serious long-term health problems in cats and dogs and drastically shorten their life expectancy.
2. To protect other animals and people
When lots of animals in a community are vaccinated, it becomes much less likely that a contagious disease will spread and cause harm to even unvaccinated animals. This is called herd immunity.
Some diseases can be passed from animals to humans, too – these are called zoonotic diseases. One example is leptospirosis, which dog vaccinations commonly protect against. Though it’s rare, this unpleasant infection can be passed onto humans in the form of Weil's disease.
3. It’s cheaper in the long run
It goes without saying that the more times you take your pet to the vet, the more money you’ll have to spend. Though a cat or dog may recover from an initial bout of illness, some diseases can severely damage your pet’s overall health, so you'll need to take them to the vet more frequently in the long run.
For example, FeLV (feline leukaemia) can seriously impact your cat’s immune system and make them much more likely to pick up other diseases and develop health issues like anaemia and cancer. A case of parvovirus can cause dogs to have problems with their organs and immune system down the road, too.
4. It’s required
There are some situations where a cat or a dog needs to be vaccinated. Lots of boarding kennels and catteries in the UK request proof of vaccination before a pet can stay. Kennel cough (true to its name) is one example of a disease that can spread quickly among unvaccinated dogs in close quarters.
When it comes to taking your cat or dog abroad, you’ll need to check the restrictions and requirements around vaccinations of the country you’re visiting first. If you’re visiting an EU country or Northern Ireland, you’ll also legally need to get a rabies vaccination for your pet.