Before we purchase a new pet, we should all be aware of the potentially fatal viruses that can be prevented by vaccination. Vaccinations are one of the most basic components of preventative health care, which is described in the article Annual Health Examination. We are strong advocates of vaccination, as we see animals suffer and die all too often from preventable diseases.
Dogs are routinely vaccinated against the following diseases at our clinic:
- C3 - Parvovirus, Distemper Virus, Hepatitis Virus
- C5 - C3 PLUS Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Canine Parainfluenza Virus (Canine Cough)
All of us should be aware of parvovirus. This virus is still killing pups as you read this information. Distemper virus is less common in dogs now, but there are still cases being identified in foxes. It is the hope of the veterinary community that we will one day be able to eradicate distemper virus. Hepatitis virus is a contagious form of liver disease, which is difficult to diagnose, and is probably seen more commonly than we realise, as a form of hepatitis (liver inflammation). Canine cough (Kennel Cough) is a contagious cough that is not life threatening (other than to the very young, very old, and very sick) but is completely infurating for the owners and the dogs that are unlucky enough to get it. Canine cough is caused either by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, or the canine parainfluenza virus, both of which are covered in the C5 vaccination.
C5 vaccinations are a requirement for any dog undergoing training, staying in boarding kennels, or participating in dog shows. We recommend a C5 vaccination for ALL our canine patients, because while you may think your dog does not come into contact with any other animals, canine cough can be so easily and effectively spread by barking dogs through fences in town, and unfortunately even when you and your pet are in our waiting room or when your pet is in our hospital, a coughing dog (or even a barking dog!) may come past. The disease is airborne (like the flu!) so it is impossible to stop its spread. We take all measures we can to prevent these things from happening within our doors (such as isolation of unvaccinated animals, disinfection of people and equipment between patients etc), but the most effective way to ensure it does not happen to you and your pet is through vaccination.
Back to parvovirus for a minute. One of the biggest frustrations of veterinarians is to witness the needless waste of young pups lives from a preventable disease such as parvovirus. Pups affected by parvovirus ‘shrink’ overnight by overwhelming dehydration, and very quickly succumb to a severe gastroenteritis that will kill 95% of pups that are not treated with aggressive therapy. Our article on parvovirus details this disease well, please have a read.
Our protocol for vaccination in dogs is:
6-8 weeks – C3
10-12 weeks – C5*
14-16 weeks – C3
15-16 months, then annually – C5*
*NB: while the Canine Cough component of this vaccination is optional, we do recommend it in all pets.
Your pet is not fully protected until 10 days after the final vaccination.
Some tips when buying a new puppy:
- Be immediately aware of your pup's vaccine status before you leave the breeder.
- Visit your vet ASAP on the date vaccine boosters are due
- If moving into a house, ensure the yard is free of Parvovirus infection. Note: parvovirus can live in the soil for many years (>5 years in cool shaded areas), and will emerge after rain and is actively spread by flies. If uncertain, wait until 10 days after the 12-14 week booster injection to introduce the pup into this yard.
- Never let your pup out of the yard until 10 days after the 12-14 week booster injection, unless veterinary advice says otherwise (you may attend puppy preschool if conducted at a veterinary clinic)
- Maintain your pets vaccine cover for life by annual health examination and vaccination.
Cats are routinely vaccinated against respiratory diseases (‘cat flu’) and a contagious cause of enteritis (diarrhoea) seen in cats. Our routine vaccination is a Tricat F3.
- Tricat F3 - Feline Enteritis (Panleucopaenia), Feline Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus type 1.
The F3 vaccine is recommended in all cats, keeping that purr nice and relaxing rather than a noisy and congested one! While the diseases protected against here are not usually life threatening, they are often recurrent diseases. For example, herpesvirus can cause sneezing and nasal discharge, weepy eyes, ulcers on the eyes and general lethargy. Only the very young, very old and the compromised are at risk of fatal disease. The remainder have flu like symptoms for a number of days to weeks. The nature of herpesvirus is similar to that in humans – it is always present in the body and flares up intermittently, usually in times of stress, and is very contagious to other cats. The vaccination can help reduce flare ups in already infected cats, and prevents infection in naïve cats.
We also have additional vaccines that can be used in high risk cases including Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Aids (FIV). FeLV & FIV are spread by fighting animals, so are only recommended in these animals. These are separate vaccinations to the F3, and must be requested before your visit for vaccination.
We do not routinely vaccinate against FeLV & FIV due to the increased number of vaccine reactions (lethargy and depression for up to 48 hours). In cats that are not at risk, this vaccine is not important, but these side effects of the vaccine are acceptable in cats that are at high risk of these diseases. If you are unsure whether your cat is at risk of FeLV and FIV, please contact our clinic, or discuss this with a vet at your next annual health examination and vaccine review.
Our regular protocol for vaccination in cats is:
Kittens 8 weeks or older - Nobivac Tricat
Booster 4 weeks later (all) - Nobivac Tricat
1st Annual Booster - Nobivac Ducat
2nd Annual Booster - Nobivac Ducat
3rd Annual Booster Nobivac Tricat
4th Annual Booster - Nobivac Ducat
5th Annual Booster - Nobivac Ducat
6th Annual Booster - Nobivac Tricat
and so on...
**Your cat will require a vaccination every 12 months using these vaccines.
If your pet requires FeLV or FIV vaccination, this fits into the above schedule.
We also have vaccinations for rabbits and ferrets. Rabbits are vaccinated against the fatal calicivirus, and ferrets are vaccinated against the fatal distemper virus. Both of these diseases are ultimately fatal, and animals diagnosed with these diseases are generally euthanased or die. The vaccination schedule is similar to that of dogs and cats with multiple vaccinations in young animals, followed by annual boosters. Please contact the clinic if you have a rabbit or ferret that needs vaccination.
With your vaccine review, we will also review parasite control, including gastrointestinal parasites, heartworm, fleas, ticks and other external parasites. Please discuss control of these while in your annual health examination consultation, or alternatively visit our Parasites in dogs and cats article for more information.