August 28, 2016

Vaccination: Dog, Cat, Rabbit & Ferret

Vet Vaccinations

Vaccination (also known as immunisation) is an important part of protecting your pet from harmful diseases. Vaccines have been developed to prevent disease in companion animals and vaccinating is one of the most common veterinary procedures undertaken in small animal practice. Immunisation programs play an important role in preventing diseases not only from the vaccine itself but they also facilitate regular clinical examinations during the life of your pet. Regular visits to the vet also enable early detection and treatment of any health problems that may arise. We recommend owners discuss the latest recommendations with their vet, to ensure your pet has the best protection provided by vaccines.

Why Vaccinate?

Some animal diseases are very serious and sometimes fatal, even with treatment. Appropriate use of vaccines will prevent your cherished pet from contracting these diseases in the first place. To maintain immunity, booster shots will be required at regular intervals.

Core vaccines should be administered to all animals to protect them against severe, life-threatening diseases that have a global distribution.

Non-core vaccines are required by only those animals whose geographic location, local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections.


Dog Vaccination

Puppy

When should you vaccinate your dog?

At 6-8 weeks of age puppies should receive their first vaccination; this is temporary and needs to be followed up with another one at 10 weeks. 10 days after their 10 week shots you can then take your puppy out in public areas.

Core Vaccines

  • canine distemper virus
  • canine adenovirus
  • canine parvovirus

Non-core vaccines

  • parainfluenza virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Leptospira interrogans

Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires puppies to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult dogs require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.

  • Puppy Vaccination
    Puppies are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first few months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary in a puppy.
  • Adult Dog Vaccination
    The immunity from puppy vaccination weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations, as required, will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.
  • After Vaccination Care
    Following vaccination your dog may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.

Please give us a call to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet puppy or dog.

Infectious Diseases of Dogs that we Vaccinate Against

Canine Parvovirus
Canine parvovirus is a disease that affects dogs of all ages but is most serious in young pups and older dogs. The virus attacks the intestines causing bloodstained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration despite intensive veterinary care.

It is not necessary to have direct contact with other dogs for the disease to be spread. The virus is so persistent that the infected dog’s environment needs to be cleaned with a potent disinfectant to prevent spread to other dogs. Outbreaks occur regularly throughout Australia, especially in summer.

Canine Distemper
Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect dogs of any age with young puppies being at highest risk.

Symptoms vary but can include fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease. Treatment is usually ineffective and the recovery rate very low. Dogs that do recover may have permanent brain damage.

Canine Hepatitis
Canine hepatitis is a viral disease which, like distemper is extremely contagious and often fatal. Dogs of any age can become infected, however severe cases are rare in dogs over two years of age.

Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain. In severe cases death can occur within 24 to 36 hours. Dogs that recover may develop long term liver and kidney problems and can act as carriers spreading the disease to other dogs for many months.

Canine Cough
Canine cough is a condition produced by several highly infectious diseases, which can be easily spread wherever dogs congregate, such as parks, shows, obedience schools and boarding kennels. Among the infectious agents associated with canine cough is the bacterium known as Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine viruses parainfluenza, adenovirus type 2 and distemper.

Affected dogs have a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks. It is distressing for pet dogs and their owners. It is a major problem for working and sporting dogs. Pneumonia can also be a consequence of infection.

Canine Coronavirus
Canine coronavirus is another contagious virus and causes depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young dogs. Diarrhoea may last for several days in some cases. Although most dogs will recover with treatment, coronavirus has the potential to be fatal, especially if other infectious agents such as parvovirus are present.

Canine Leptospirosis
Canine leptospirosis is a serious disease risk in some areas and can cause high death rates. It is spread by the urine of rats and is usually transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water, or by rat bites.

There’s an increased risk where high rat populations exist such as rubbish dumps or green sugar cane cutting areas. Incidence can also increase after long periods of wet weather, when rat populations are forced to move or concentrate. Leptospirosis is an animal disease that can be passed to humans who may then suffer a persisting “flu like” illness.


Cat Vaccination

When should you vaccinate?Vet Medicine - Kitten about to receive injection from vet

We recommend kittens receive their first vaccination at 8 weeks of age. This is temporary and needs to be followed up with another one at 12 weeks. In some cases a 16 week vaccine may be required. A kitten can safely go outside ten days after the final vaccination. To maintain immunity, all adult cats require annual boosters.

Core Vaccines

  • feline parvovirus
  • feline calicivirus
  • feline herpesvirus

Non-Core Vaccines

  • feline leukaemia virus,
  • Chlamydia felis and
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus vaccines may also be classified in this group.

Kittens

Vaccination has revolutionised control of infectious disease in our pets. It is essential that all pets are adequately vaccinated to help protect the pet population as a whole. Responsible pet care requires kittens to be given their initial course of vaccinations, but this cannot protect them for the rest of their lives. Adult cats require regular vaccination to maintain immunity against disease.

  • Kitten Vaccination
    Kittens are ‘temporarily’ protected against many diseases by antibodies received through their mother’s milk. These maternal antibodies decline in the first couple of months of their lives, however until they drop sufficiently they can also neutralise vaccines. This is why a series of vaccinations is necessary for a kitten.
  • Adult Cat Vaccination
    The immunity from kitten vaccination weakens over time and your pet can again become susceptible to disease. Annual health checks and booster vaccinations will provide the best protection for the life of your pet.
  • A Guide to Cat Vaccination
    Initial vaccination programs should provide at least two vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart against some or all of the following; feline panleucopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, Chlamydia and leukaemia virus at or after 8 weeks of age. Three vaccinations, 2-4 weeks apart, against feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are recommended at or after 8 weeks of age.
  • After Vaccination Care
    Following vaccination your cat may be off-colour for a day or two, or have some slight swelling or tenderness at the injection site. Access to food and water and a comfortable area to rest are usually all that is required for a quick recovery. However, if the response seems more severe, you should contact us for advice.

Please give us a call to discuss a suitable vaccination regime for your pet kitten or cat.

Infectious Diseases Of Cats That we Vaccinate Against

Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
It is very contagious and the death rate is high, especially under 12 months of age. Pregnant cats may lose their young or give birth to kittens with abnormalities, quite often with brain damage. Symptoms are depression, loss of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood and severe abdominal pain.

The virus spreads so easily that heavily contaminated areas may need cleaning with a special disinfectant. Cats that do recover may continue to carry the virus for some time and infect other cats.

Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat flu)
It is caused in 90% of cases by feline herpesvirus (feline rhinotracheitis) and/or feline calicivirus.

Feline respiratory disease affects cats of all ages, especially young kittens, Siamese and Burmese cats. It is highly contagious and causes sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers.

Fortunately, the death rate is low except in young kittens, but the disease is distressing and may persist for several weeks. Recovered cats can continue to carry and spread the infection for long periods, and can show signs of the disease again if they become stressed.

Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats.

Kittens are more severely affected by Chlamydia when also infected with “Cat Flu”, and Chlamydia can be shed for many months. Vaccination against cat flu and Chlamydia helps protects against clinical disease.

Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
Feline Leukaemia is a serious disease of cats caused by feline leukaemia virus.

The virus attacks the immune system and may be associated with lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy, pale or yellow mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, increased susceptibility to other infections, leukaemia and tumours. Many cats may be infected and show no signs at all.

About one third of infected cats remain chronically infected and may shed virus in their saliva, tears, nasal secretions and urine. The disease is then spread to uninfected cats by mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline AIDS is a disease caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and affects the cat’s immune system. Their natural defence against attack by other diseases may be seriously affected, much in the same way as human AIDS.

This disease is not transmissible to humans.

FIV is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats. The virus that causes the disease is present in saliva.

While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes.

As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections.

Eventually, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections.

Unfortunately in Australia, a lot of cats are infected with this virus.


Rabbit Vaccination

Rabbits should be vaccinated for Calicivirus at 10 – 12 weeks of age, followed by annual boosters to maintain immunity throughout life. Calicivirus (along with Myxomatosis) is a disease that was introduced in Australia to help control the wild rabbit population. Whilst there are no vaccines available to prevent Myxomatosis, rabbits should be vaccinated against Calicivirus which is spread by insects.

rabbit-injection-vaccination


Ferret Vaccination

Vaccinating against distemper is very important. It is recommended they receive two distemper vaccinations when less than 12 weeks of age then annually. This comes as the C3 vaccination typically given to dogs. Ferrets that catch distemper become depressed, they develop a skin rash, nasal and eye discharges and eventually nerve degeneration. There is no successful treatment. Distemper is normally always fatal to ferrets so ensuring they are kept up to date with their shots is a good idea.