Vaccination… a viral issue

What are vaccines?

Vaccines help to protect our pets against a variety of potentially deadly illnesses. Inoculation with a vaccine involves injection of a dead, partial or weakened form of pathogen (disease causing organisms). This triggers your pet’s body to produce antibodies (disease fighting cells) to destroy these organisms. If faced with the same illness in future, their body can recognise and eliminate it much more effectively. The protection providing by vaccination declines over time and therefore requires a ‘booster’ to remind your pet’s immune system to produce those essential protective antibodies!

When should vaccination begin?

Vaccines for puppies start at 6-8 weeks of age, the primary vaccination course consists of 2 injections 2-4 weeks apart. For kittens this starts at 8-9 weeks with the second of the two primary vaccinations given 3-4 weeks after the first.

Please see rabbit vaccination advice post for separate information on this species.

Booster vaccines should then be continued annually to maintain immunity.

Which diseases are covered by the vaccinations?

Core vaccination (minimum required) are recommended as follows:

Dogs – Infectious canine hepatitis, leptovirus, parvo virus, distemper virus.

Cats – Feline infectious enteritis, feline calici virus, feline panleucopenia virus (parvo virus), feline viral rhinotracheitis (flu), feline leukaemia (additional however recommended for all outdoor cats).

Rabbits – Rabbit haemorrhagic disease, myxomatosis (see Rabbit Vaccination)

NB: in addition to core vaccinations additional vaccine cover may be suggested by your veterinarian eg. Dogs – Kennel Cough, Cats – feline leukaemia virus. Rabies vaccination may be required for travel abroad with your pets.

Does my pet need vaccines every year?

Data shows that after the primary vaccination course the majority of dogs have immunity against canine distemper, infectious hepatitis and parvovirus for 3 years, similarly cats show immunity against feline panleukopenia and leukaemia virus for a similar length of time. We therefore vaccinate against only those illnesses which are due to boost. Eg. Every 3 years dogs are vaccinated against distemper, infectious canine hepatitis and parvovirus but require leptovirus vaccination every year.

In addition to topping up on vital immunity, your pet will receive a full annual health check at the time of vaccination.

What about titre testing?

An antibody titre test involves measuring the number of antibodies in the blood. While titre testing does not replace the requirement of vaccination, they can determine if your pet has a reasonable protection against disease.

Speak to your vet for more information.

Are vaccines dangerous for pets?

Adverse effects due to vaccines are very rarely seen. Vaccine reactions are relatively uncommon and if seen are usually mild and short lived. These may include swelling at the injection site, mild fever, fatigue and lack of appetite usually lasting 24-48 hours.

Rare complications of vaccination such as injection site sarcoma (tumour development at the site of injection) have been reported at around 60 in every 1 million vaccinations.

No veterinary procedure comes without risk, however it is important to appreciate that the benefits of vaccination greatly outweighs this.

Is the L4 vaccination dangerous for dogs?

Very little evidence supports the theory that L4 vaccine for leptospirosis can cause harm to your pet. Leptospirosis a disease affecting humans and dogs, can cause kidney and liver failure often leading to death. The disease is spread by rats and is therefore present in the environment in which your dog frequents on walks or in the garden.

We can therefore highly recommend vaccination against leptospirosis and offer both L4 and L2 vaccinations (either can be given).

What if my pet is overdue/lapsed their annual vaccinations?

If your pet is of unknown vaccination status or has not been vaccinated in the past 15 months they would be required to restart their primary vaccination course. This may require initial vaccination followed by a repeat vaccine 2-4 weeks later to get them back on track.

Need an appointment?

Call us now to book a vital vaccination for your pet!

01983 212 999

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