Vaccinations

Vaccination is a very simple, safe and useful way to protect your pet against a range of nasty diseases. All the diseases vaccinated against are either untreatable, fatal or both. A vaccination also combines an annual health check which is a great way of finding problems early – the best time to treat any disease.

Dogs:
Primary vaccination (from 7 weeks old), consisting of TWO injections two to three weeks apart; then a booster vaccination every 12 months.

Cats:
Primary vaccination (from 9 weeks old), consisting of TWO injections three to four weeks apart; then a booster vaccination every 12 months.

Rabbits:
A yearly combined vaccination against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease.

Ferrets:
A yearly vaccine against Distemper .

Vaccination FAQs:

Is vaccination essential?
Yes! We live in an area with a particularly high density of pets and a lot of wildlife which provides a constant reservoir for infections like parvovirus and leptospirosis. We also have a lot of pets visiting on holiday which ensures a constant supply of new diseases. There are also a lot of stray cats and unvaccinated cats that act as carriers for diseases like flu and leukaemia.

Are we over-vaccinating?
No! As vets we ensure that our own animals are vaccinated annually without fail and we wouldn’t do so if we thought for one moment that it wasn’t essential or was in any way harmful – forget the scare-mongering that is rife on internet forums. Our tailored vaccination programmes are designed to meet (but not exceed) the exact needs of our patients so that not all vaccines are administered every year.  Furthermore, our vaccinations are done at BELOW cost price to encourage uptake – if this was as pointless or dangerous as some internet forums would have you believe then we would drop this time-consuming and costly practice.

We’ve never vaccinated our animals and never had any problems so why should we bother?
Well, fortunately for pet owners who fall into this category most of us are far more responsible. This results in a level of ‘herd immunity’ so that the incidence of many fatal diseases has been drastically reduced. However if we all adopted the same attitude and levels of vaccination dropped much below 70-80% then we would see many dreadful diseases like Distemper taking hold once more. Furthermore, diseases like Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Cat Flu and Feline Leukaemia are a constant threat in this area and we regularly see fatal cases of all of these.

 

A little bit more about the vaccinations;

Dog Vaccinations

Parvovirus
When Parvovirus first appeared in 1978, it devastated the dog population and deaths were very common. Vaccination has controlled the disease but it is still commonly seen around here. Symptoms include bloody diarrhoea and vomiting (often containing fresh blood). Weight loss, dehydration and anorexia also occur. Untreated, parvovirus is fatal and even with the best care, death still occurs in 25 – 30% of cases. The disease is worst in young and old animals.

Leptospirosis:
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease commonly caught by contact with dirty water and is spread in the urine of rats and other wildlife; again very common due to all the rivers and watercourses around here. In humans this infection is known as Weill’s Disease. Lepto (as it is more commonly known) causes liver and / or kidney failure and although it is treatable in the early stages it is fatal if the damage to liver or kidneys is severe.

Parainfluenza:
This is a viral infection that is the dog equivalent to human flu. It is a form of kennel cough and the symptoms are similar to human flu.

Distemper:
Distemper is fortunately a rare disease nowadays thanks to vaccination but has been a big killer in the past. Distemper is a virus that can affect many organs in the body but usually causes a fever, dullness, loss of appetite and a discharge from eyes and nose. It can also cause a thickening of the pads (called Hard Pad) and if the dog survives, will cause brain damage in later life. The biggest problem, though, is that Distemper reduces the body’s ability to fight other infections and dogs will commonly get pneumonia and other infections. Young dogs are more commonly affected.

Infectious Hepatitis:
This is a relatively new disease, discovered in 1985. It is a virus that is closely related to one which causes an infectious cough, so vaccination gives protection against both diseases. Infectious Hepatitis can affect any age of animal but is most common in young dogs. Symptoms commonly seen include fever, dullness, wasting, vomiting, diarrhoea and coma. Jaundice may also be present where the gums, eyes and ears appear yellow. Internal damage to the liver and intestines also occurs

Kennel Cough (Bordetella):
The Kennel Cough vaccine provides protection against a throat and chest infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchisepticum. It is a highly contagious infection and the name is a bit misleading as it is rarely associated with kennelling – most cases arise from infected dogs or foxes in the local environment. It can be easily diagnosed as it causes a characteristic retching cough. In most healthy dogs it is not usually serious and often improves with a course of antibiotics. However it can lead to a chronic (long-term) bronchitis. It is an unusual vaccine to administer as it is squirted up the nose. The immunity lasts for 12 months and needs to be given at least 1 week before your dog goes into kennels.

Rabies:
Rabies vaccination is not needed in the UK but is commonly given when pets travel abroad. The Pet Passport scheme requires a rabies vaccination and many foreign countries also require vaccination. It is best to discuss this with us when you have decided to travel. No cases of rabies in cats or dogs have been recorded in the UK (except in quarantine) since the 1920’s and vaccination is designed to continue this record.

Canine Herpes Virus (CHV-1):
Canine herpes virus (CHV-1) is a virus that has been largely ignored for many years. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the virus causes many more problems than was first thought. Like all herpes viruses, CHV is highly infectious, and a recent study showed that more than 80% of dogs in England have been exposed to the virus at some time in their lives.  For most dogs CHV is not thought to cause any significant problem and so for a long time is has largely been ignored by both breeders and vets. However, it is now clear that CHV can be a significant cause of death in young puppies, and also smaller litter size and weight.  Read more here.

 

Cat Vaccinations

Cat Flu
This is a combination of 2 viruses – calicivirus and herpesvirus. The symptoms are similar to a bad cold and secondary infections of the eyes and airways can be very serious.  Worst of all, it can never be completely removed from the body.  Sufferers of cat flu will often come down with the disease at times of stress throughout their lives (like a human cold sore which is also a herpes virus).  It is a disease that is much easier to prevent than to treat.

Feline enteritis (Panleucopaenia)
This is a condition similar to Parvovirus in dogs (see above) but is fortunately rare, thanks to vaccination.  It is often fatal when contracted.

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
This virus was discovered in 1964 and causes cancers in the intestines, skin and other organs. It also suppresses the immune system, reducing the cat’s ability to fight other infections.  When a cat catches FeLV, it can take 4 to 6 years before any problems occur and symptoms can be almost anything before the cat eventually dies.  A simple blood test is available to detect active infection with FeLV.  It is recommended that all kittens be vaccinated and advised that older cats should be tested for the disease before vaccination.  FeLV cannot be caught by humans or other pets.

Chlamydia
A common bacterial infection in cats with conjunctivitis but is only a problem in breeding colonies.  Most cats do not need vaccination against it and your vet will advise you if your cat needs vaccinating against this.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FIV is a similar disease to both HIV and FeLV in that it suppresses the immune system and allows other infections to occur (like HIV in humans).  There is no cure for FIV and it cannot be caught by humans or other pets.



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