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Whether to vaccinate and what we should vaccinate against has in recent years caused a lot of debate in human medicine. A similar debate has taken place in the veterinary field. Our aim is always to provide adequate protection for our pets without 'over vaccinating'.
All animals will acquire a certain amount of immunity via their mother. This is called maternal immunity and is usually present until approximately 12 weeks of age. The protection provided by this immunity will depend upon the mother's immunity. It is therefore essential that if you are planning on breeding from your bitch or queen, you ensure that they are fully vaccinated. If puppies or kittens are born to unvaccinated mothers, be aware that they may be vulnerable and an extra early vaccination may be appropriate.
With the exception of Kennel Cough, all the diseases which we vaccinate dogs against are potential killers. These viral diseases can rapidly make a puppy or vulnerable adult dog seriously ill, requiring prompt, intensive veterinary intervention. Vaccination offers protection from these diseases which are a huge risk to the wellbeing of your pet.
In general, puppies are usually vaccinated as a course between 6 and 16 weeks old, kittens being vaccinated between 6 and 12 weeks. Boosters are required every one-two years depending on the vaccination regime.
Dogs are routinely vaccinated for Parvovirus, Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza. Parvovirus has caused major problems in the past and in recent years has become more controlled. However we still see potentially fatal cases, especially in summer.
Other vaccinations include Leptospirosis and Kennel Cough. Leptospirosis is always a risk, particularly in rural areas. Rats are the major carrier of this disease. We recommend vaccination against Kennel cough especially if your dog has exposure to other dogs on a regular basis, such as at doggy day care, kennel stays, or on beach walks.
Cats are routinely vaccinated for several Cat ‘Flu’ viruses and for Feline Panleukopenia, the cat equivalent
of parvovirus. Cat Flu can cause serious illness and sometimes has lifelong consequences.
Cats can also be vaccinated for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).
The virus can remain dormant for many years often becoming active and causing disease later in life. A cat that has a FIV associated disease (Feline AIDS) is very difficult to treat. FIV virus is commonly present in apparently healthy cats therefore initial infection may happen without your knowledge. Infection is usually transmitted through bite wounds from infected cats.