Vaccinations – Why are they so important.
Vaccinations are extremely important for the health and wellbeing of your pets, particularly cats and dogs. Kittens and puppies begin vaccinations early, to protect them from infectious diseases while their immune systems are still developing.
Diseases such as hepatitis, parvovirus, feline respiratory viruses and feline enteritis can be very serious and even fatal, especially in young animals. Therefore, it’s important to take preventative measures to ensure dogs and cats are protected against these diseases in the first place, rather than reacting to them later down the track.
Vaccination exposes your pet’s immune system to an infection, causing its white blood cells to produce antibodies to start fighting it. These antibodies then bind to the infection and neutralise it, and work to kill off cells that have been infected. Our bodies remember this process, and if the same infection comes into our system again we quickly produce a strong immune response to fight it off again. Today’s pet vaccinations are very safe, tested and common place
Vaccinations for Dogs
Puppies must receive their first vaccination between 6-8 weeks of age. This is then repeated monthly, or at 4 week intervals until your dog is at least 4 months old.
Booster vaccines are then maintained annually – your vet will be able to advise you of the exact timeframes for scheduled vaccinations for your pet.
Speak to your vet about ensuring your dog is vaccinated against the following:
• Canine Distemper
• Canine Infectious Hepatitis
• Canine Parvovirus
• Canine Parainfluenza
• Bordetella Bronchiseptica
Vaccinations for Cats
Cats are generally vaccinated at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and then once a year, to protect them from diseases such as feline enteritis, cat flu, feline chlamydia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), which can be very serious and even fatal, particularly for kittens.
Your cat should be vaccinated against the following infectious diseases:
• Feline Panleukopenia
• Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT CANINE PARVOVIRUS.
Parvovirus is a virus that causes severe illness in dogs. All dogs can be affected and some breeds are more susceptible eg. Rottweilers and Dobermans, however younger dogs are at most risk. The Hunter experiences Parvo outbreaks almost every year. Vaccination is your dogs only protection.
How do dogs contract Parvovirus?
Parvovirus is highly contagious. A dog becomes infected with parvovirus when they swallow the virus. The virus is passed in the faeces of dogs sick with parvovirus. The virus itself is very hardy and can live in the ground for years. Therefore it can be picked up from most areas that are visited by dogs. Never take a puppy who is not fully vaccinated to areas where dogs congregate.
What are the symptoms of Parvovirus?
The main symptom of parvovirus is sudden, severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Other symptoms include anorexia, lack of energy and abdominal pain. In some cases it can lead to collapse and death.
The virus attacks certain parts in the body. The main place it attacks is the lining of the intestines therefore causing diarrhoea and vomiting. The virus can also attack the bone marrow. This damaged bone marrow can no longer produce sufficient numbers of white blood cells to fight off infections.
How is Parvovirus diagnosed?
Parvovirus is suspected in any dog that has severe vomiting and diarrhoea, particularly if the dog is less than 6 months of age and hasn’t been vaccinated against the disease. A test is also available that can detect the presence of the virus in faeces.
How is Parvovirus treated?
No drug is available that can kill the virus inside the body. Therefore treatment mainly involves giving supportive care until the virus is passed from the body. Aggressive treatment is usually required to save most dogs and includes putting them on an intra-venous drip to prevent dehydration, giving drugs to control vomiting and often giving antibiotics to help kill bacteria that may pass through the damaged intestines into the blood stream. Some dogs may also need a blood or plasma transfusion if they have lost a lot of blood.
Unfortunately despite the best treatment the death rate can still be quite high, particularly in young dogs.
How do I prevent my dog from catching Parvovirus?
Fortunately a highly effective vaccination is available to protect your dog against parvovirus. Puppies should receive this vaccine first at 6-8 weeks of age, then at 10-12 weeks and finally at 14-16weeks. Remember your puppy will not have full immunity against the virus until 2 weeks after the last vaccine.
An ongoing vaccination program will be determined by your veterinarian in consultation with you to ensure continued immunity.
For more information about puppy and dog vaccinations please click here. An external site will open in a new window