Vaccines are now classified as 'core and 'non-core'.

Core vaccines include those which all animals need to receive, which means Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus.

In the United Kingdom, for most dogs, the recommendation is likely to be a once yearly vaccine against Leptospirosis, with a booster against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus every three years.

Other 'non core' vaccines, such as Kennel Cough and Rabies, may also need to be given, depending on the dog's activities.

Non-core vaccines are those that are required by only those animals whose geographical location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk. Examples include Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough and Rabies, although the prevalence of rats in many parts of the UK is so high that many people would regard Leptospirosis as a core vaccine in this country.

The British Small Animals Veterinary Association (BSAVA) recommends that,
in the UK, core vaccines for dogs include:

Canine distemper virus (CDV)

Canine adenovirus/infectious canine hepatitis (CAV)

Canine parvovirus (CPV)

and Leptospirosis.



There has been some considerable publicity in the press and on social media about the new Lepto 4 vaccine and adverse reactions. Leptospirosis is a disease that can lead to severe liver and kidney disease in dogs. It is caused by spiral bacteria called Leptospira interrogans, which is spread in the urine of infected dogs, rats, mice and a variety of other mammals and can cause Weil's disease in humans.

There are more than 5 types or 'serogroups' of Leptospira, two of the most sommon serogroups, canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae, are covered using the existing Lepto 2 vaccine.

Some vets have opted NOT to vaccinate with Lepto 4 as there is currently little evidence to suggest that the other types of Leptospira are significantly prevalent in the UK - much of the current data is obtained from studies in Europe.

Lepto 4 is also not compatible with other main vaccines used.

Most veterinary practices will keep a stock of Lepto 4 if you should wish to use it, however most
owners are opting to just have Lepto 2, or nothing at all due to the adverse side effects reported.

Read about Nobivac L4 HERE


  The Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s (VMD) position on the authorised vaccination schedule for dogs has been published to help you make an informed decision on the vaccination schedule for your dog. Read more HERE



Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of infected rats, wildlife and dogs. There are over 200 different variants (known as serovars). L2 vaccine contains 2 strains and L4 contains 4 strains. Lepto can causekidney and liver disease, it can affect other organs such as the heart or eyes, and can eventually cause organ failure and death.

There are different strains of Leptospirosis and the two most common strains are covered in routine vaccinations. However, just like many diseases in people such as influenza, Leptospirosis exists in different forms and the strain causing the current outbreak is likely to be an emerging form of the disease not covered by the classical vaccination.

The WSAVA Guidelines suggest that vaccination against Leptospirosis should be restricted to geographical areas where a significant risk of exposure has been established or for dogs whose lifestyle places them at risk. Given the risks of infection to both dogs and their owners and the albeit limited information on the prevalence of disease in the UK, which suggests veterinary practices are seeing clinical cases, leptospiral vaccines are in effect commonly used, often in combination with core annual vaccination programmes by most, if not all, veterinary practices for the benefit of the canine and human population in the UK.

I received a worrying email last night from a friend who had taken her Rough Collie for his first annual booster. She was told there was a new component to the annual vaccine - 'Nobivac L4' - and was told he had to have it now as it wasnt included in his initial vaccination, and would need a further booster in 4 weeks. Unfortunately some 3 - 6 hours after the vaccination he was very shaky and twitchy. She was so worried, she contacted the emergency vet who said it was 'just one of those things' and as long as his gums remained pink and he was not vomiting, he would be ok. Naturally, she was concerned about having the second booster in four weeks time and it prompted us to do some research.

There is a Facebook group solely for the purpose of discussing this vaccine and the side effects, if you have access to Facebook the group can be found HERE

Adverse events including bad reactions / ailments / disease / premature death from leptospirosis vaccines are quite diverse. Some documented reactions include *:

• Lymphadenopathy [enlarged lymph nodes]
• Infections with flesh-eating bacteria
• Urinary tract infections
• Uncontrollable pruritis
• Chronic weight loss
• Mast cell disease
• Enlarged spleen
• Kidney failure
• Dehydration
• Polyarthritis
• Anaphylaxis
• Pancreatitis
• Liver failure
• Screaming
• Dermatitis
• Lameness
• Anorexia
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Lethargy
• Cancer
• Fever

*Source: Leptospirosis Vaccination: A False Sense of Security Dr. Patricia Jordan, DVM, CVA, CTCVH & Herbology, holistic veterinarian, world-renown vaccine researcher and author of “Vaccinosis: The Mark of the Beast” and “Emotions and “Biological Harmony in Humans and Pets

Nobivac introduced L4 to cover new strains of the Lepto virus. The L4 vaccination is a course of 2 injections, 4 weeks apart. However, it is not until 2 weeks after the 2nd injection, that your dog is fully protected. However, because of reported side effects, not all vets are promoting the new vaccine, and are still using Nobivac L2 or Vanguard Lepto Ci.

If you are advised to have the additional vaccine, it may be working asking your vet what their practice has seen in terms of cases of both the illness and of any side effects from the vaccination. 

You can read and research as much as you like but eventually it is a decision only you can make.

No matter how many people say their dogs have had no ill effects or how many people say their dogs have died of anaphylactic shock or suffered encephalitis, colitis, pancreatitis and various other life debilitating diseases as a result of vaccination, the dogs that matter are your dogs.

You must make the best decision you can based on your understanding of whether the risk of the disease is significant enough, and indeed treatable, to take the risk of damaging or killing your dog by giving it a vaccine.

Those making and selling the vaccines will tell you the benefits outweigh the risks but they are the ones making the profits and you and your dogs are the one taking the risks.

If your dog has any side effects to a vaccination or any other medication - please report it HERE




This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.