Making sure you vaccinate your pet regularly is important to protect them against infections and diseases which can shorten or impact the quality of life. Pets need to be vaccinated from an early age, as many animal infectious diseases are still prevalent in the UK, which can in some cases also be transmitted to humans. Up to date vaccination is the only way to be sure your pet is protected for life.
Your vet will advise you on the vaccinations that are best for your pet and give you a schedule, which depends on many different factors including where you live and how many other pets are in your home.
Vaccinating your puppy is an essential job in your first few weeks of owning your dog. The first time they are vaccinated they have a course of two injections, usually at eight and 10 weeks old. The Vet also will give your puppy a full check over to make sure they are healthy.
The vaccination will not work immediately, so it’s important to confirm with the Vet when you are ok to let your puppy socialise with other animals. They then require a booster vaccination at 6 or 12 months of age. As your puppy grows, you must ensure you regularly keep up to date with annual injections as the initial immunity may fade leaving them at risk.
What Diseases do Dog Vaccinations Protect Against?
- Canine Parvovirus - a virus that can survive for long periods - it is usually fatal.
- Canine distemper (hard pad) - a severe, usually fatal disease, rare in the UK in recent years due to vaccination.
- Infectious hepatitis - still exists in the UK (although rare due to vaccination) and is often fatal.
- Leptospirosis - contracted from the urine of rats and/or other dogs. Canals and rivers can be contaminated, and forms of the disease are widespread in the UK. Can also cause severe disease in humans (weils disease).
- Kennel cough/Parainfluenza - an extremely unpleasant harsh, dry cough, highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, usually transmitted in places where dogs gather (kennels, shows, parks where lots of dogs are walked). Dogs of all ages can be affected; it is caused by several bacterial and viral agents. The coughing can last for some weeks and during this time serious complications such as pneumonia may arise, especially in puppies or older dogs, these complications can occasionally be fatal.
- Rabies fatal disease - not found in the UK. Vaccination is required if your dog is travelling abroad.
Cat vaccinations are important to protect them from severe infectious diseases and passing anything to other animals in your area. Several dangerous diseases continue to infect cats throughout the UK. This is especially true if you intend to let your kitten or cat roam freely outside. Until your cat is fully vaccinated and neutered you should keep them inside.
When a kitten is first vaccinated from around 9 weeks old, they require a course of 2 injections separated by a couple of weeks. Regular follow-ups are then required to boost your cat’s immunity to the diseases as immunity can fade over time.
What Diseases do Cat Vaccinations Protect Against?
- Cat flu (feline upper respiratory tract disease) – a very common disease in the UK and can be serious, especially in kittens and older cats. It spreads between cats by direct contact or through sneezing. Symptoms include a runny nose and eyes, high temperature and lethargy.
- Infectious enteritis (feline panleucopenia) - An unpleasant, often fatal disease, vaccination has been successful in controlling the disease.
- Feline leukaemia - A viral disease usually transmitted when cats fight or during grooming. It can take months to develop after initial infection but then will begin to supress the cat’s immune system, causing secondary infections, tumours and death.
- Chlamydophila felis - Causes conjunctivitis and is mainly seen in kittens and those in multi-cat households.
- Rabies - A fatal disease not found in the UK; vaccination is mandatory if you plan to take your cat abroad.