Why do I need to vaccinate my pet and what vaccines do they get?
In the days before widespread vaccination, thousands of animals died an often slow and painful death from diseases which are easily preventable nowadays.
Vaccinations will protect your dog from:
And protect cats from:
- feline panleukopaenia
- cat flu
- feline leukaemia virus
These are the 'core vacines' that all pets receive but we can also vaccinate for Kennel Cough and Rabies if required.
Vaccination is the biggest success of modern veterinary medicine. Because it will prevent your pet dying from many of these potentially fatal diseases, it is the cornerstone of responsible pet ownership.
Now that most pets are vaccinated thankfully vets see fewer and fewer animals affected by these diseases, and this explains why it is so vital your pet is vaccinated, and protection kept up to date by regular (usually annual) ‘boosters’.
At what age can my baby pet be vaccinated?
Puppies and kittens need to receive a course of at least 2 injections to ensure they are fully protected. The age at which they can be commenced depends on the brand of vaccine.
In Blacklion Pet Hospital the vaccines we use allows us to administer the first injection of the full vaccination course at just 6 weeks of age for puppies and 9 weeks of age for kittens. The second vaccination is give 4 weeks later for pups and 3 weeks later for kittens. Your pet has to be at least this age before the vaccines will be effective so there is no point in giving the vaccines any earlier.
Your pet is not fully protected until about 2 weeks after the second vaccine - you should not let him/her out until then (but going into the back garden is of course fine).
My pet was vaccinated when I got him by the breeder/rescue centre – what do I do?
Vets find that a lot of pets present having been ‘vaccinated’ by the breeder, or in a rescue centre. If this was one by a vet and you have been given a vaccination certificate then all should be fine and it may well be that your pet will only need one extra ‘booster’ vaccine. However vets often find it was actually the breeder or a lay-person in the rescue centre who administered the vaccine, not a vet, and in these cases it is not possible to be sure of what vaccine was given, if it was given correctly, was it stored correctly etc. For that reason the recommendation is generally to ignore what was (or wasn’t) done before, and to recommence the vaccination course and do it correctly to ensure your pet is fully protected.
Best thing to do is to go to your vet as soon as you get your new pet, bringing all the paperwork with you, and we will advise you what needs to be done next.
Then what is needed in the years after the first vaccinations?
Because the immunity your pet gets from the first vaccinations does not last for life, regular booster vaccinations are needed to ensure your pet continues to be fully protected. These are done at the same time as the Annual Health Assessment.
Just like humans, the older your pet is the more common it is for ailments to occur. So, older pets still need their vaccinations – indeed, the older the pet the more important they are seen every year, if not more often, for a health assessment.
It’s never to late to get your pet vaccinated. Even if your pet has not been to the vet for years there’s no problems. At worst they will need a course of 2 injections to get them fully protected, and on top of that you’ll get the added bonus of a full health check at every vaccination.
Are the vaccines safe?
Yes they are.
As with any drug there is always the possibility of some side effects but they are very rare and can be readily managed. Put into context, the risk of death from not vaccinating is far, far higher than any potential risk from administering the vaccines, and even when there is a reaction it is generally mild and short-lived.
What is needed for my pet to go into a kennels or cattery?
No reputable boarding kennels and catteries will admit your pet without an up to date certificate of vaccination. In addition to the core vaccines which all pets should have, dogs will also require ‘Kennel Cough’ vaccination before they can go into kennels. Kennel Cough is similar to Whooping Cough in humans and while generally not fatal it is very infectious in locations where dogs share an airspace (such as kennels and dogs shows) and can take a very long time to resolve.
If your kennels or cattery do not insist on seeing your vaccination certificate every time you take your pet there – be very wary. It means they are potentially letting in other unvaccinated pets, thus leaving your pet at a higher risk of contracting disease. They must ask to see your pet’s vaccination certificate and check that he or she has been vaccinated within the last 12 months – simply asking you if your pet is vaccinated is not good enough.