We strongly believe that dogs should have regular vaccinations and health check combined.
Vaccinations help prevent serious and potentially fatal diseases and the health check allows us to give you guidance on keeping your pet healthy.
As well as this, in the unfortunate event that there is a problem, we can address this as early as possible, thus giving us the best chance of success. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions about your pet.
Most vaccinations are by an injection into the scruff of the neck and are well tolerated. For routine boosters an, annual vaccination is needed, but we rotate the type of vaccine over a 3-year cycle, in keeping with current thoughts on best practice.
What do we routinely vaccinate our dogs against?
This highly infectious and often fatal disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Young puppies and areas with high numbers of unvaccinated dog populations are most at risk. In past years, there have been serious outbreaks in Coventry and Bristol in addition to the usual cases we see in our own areas. It can be carried on clothing and footwear, so we were lucky that it did not jump the Meriden Gap.
Symptoms include depression, vomiting, pain and profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea. This rapid loss of fluids leads to dehydration, collapse of the circulation, secondary infection and ultimately death. Intensive supportive care, hospitalisation and intravenous fluids are needed to give an unvaccinated dog the chance of surviving and, unfortunately, not all will. So, please vaccinate.
Canine distemper is a highly infectious virus that may occur mildly in some individuals but can prove fatal in others. Young puppies and areas with high numbers of unvaccinated dog populations are most at risk. Symptoms include runny eyes and nose and coughing followed by depression, vomiting and diarrhoea; or it can cause neurological signs and fits. There is no specific treatment for distemper, so we provide as much supportive care as possible to try to get them through this very difficult period and minimise the damage. So, please vaccinate.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis:
This infectious disease affects dogs’ livers, kidneys, eyes and lungs. It is a fast progressing disease within some dogs dying within a couple of hours of becoming unwell. Symptoms include fever, pale gums, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs that recover from this disease can remain infectious for more than six months spreading it through their urine and faeces into the environment. So, please vaccinate.
Bacteria spread through urine, including rats’, cause this. It is also a very serious zoonosis- i.e. it can be transmitted to people. Transmission occurs when your dog comes in contact, either directly or indirectly with infected urine, and we all know you are never too far from a rat! Symptoms include lethargy and depression, abdominal pain, jaundice, going onto liver and kidney failure. Treatment for the disease is available although this does not guarantee survival. So, please vaccinate.
What other vaccinations are available?
This is a highly contagious disease made up of several different causes. All unvaccinated dogs are at risk and, despite the nickname, it is more commonly spread in public places than in boarding kennels. The symptoms can be from a mild watery nose, to a harsh debilitating cough and the risk of a secondary pneumonia. Antibiotics can be effective against some causes, but not the viruses. The vaccination against Kennel Cough is a combination against a virus and a specific type of bacteria. It is a small amount of liquid, which is sprayed up the nose. Some dogs may find this strange at the time of administration, but it is quickly given. It cannot give 100% protection against all strains of Kennel Cough, but it generally helps. In addition, some kennels require it for boarding. Although the onset of protection is approximately 2 weeks, some kennels require a longer period beforehand, so check with your kennels.
The UK is currently rabies free so therefore we do not routinely vaccinate against it. However, vaccination after 12 weeks of age against rabies is essential for any animal traveling abroad to not only protects the animal against the disease but also allow entry back into the UK. Pet travel arrangements are currently under review due to Brexit. If you would like more information please get in touch and we can discuss the current requirements.
We usually suggest that you allow your new puppy to settle in for a few days before vaccinating, so you can see if there are any problems. However, if there are problems at the very start, make an appointment, so we can sort them. Do not delay if your puppy is unwell.
Puppy vaccinations usually consist of two vaccinations. The puppies can start from 6-8 weeks of age. They must be 10 weeks old or over for the second vaccination, and there is an interval of 28 days between. ALL these criteria must be met.
Chat to the vet when you bring your puppy in as the vaccinations can be split into three visits if you are keen for your new addition to go outside a little sooner.
These are needed on an annual basis, but we vary what we give over a 3-year cycle as some parts can last longer than others.
The first annual booster should be within a month of the anniversary of the puppy vaccinations, i.e. you only have 1-month leeway.
Does my dog really need all these vaccinations?
We see these diseases from time to time and some types more than others. As vets and owners, if you have experienced any of these cases or outbreaks, and witnessed first-hand the avoidable suffering endured by these poor souls, you tend to support vaccination strongly.
The only way to look at whether an individual needs the various components is to take blood samples to test their present immune status. The manufacturers’ recommendations are based on data that allows the vast majority of dogs to remain protected. At present, it is probably more unpleasant for your dog to have blood tests and then decide which components to use that year, than getting on and following the recommended vaccinations.
Vaccine reactions are very uncommon, and rarely ever cause lasting harm. On those few occasions, we tend to see puffy faces or more generalised swellings on the skin, which subside within a day or so.
HOWEVER, we must not be complacent, and we will follow any substantiated future advances in vaccination protocols, as we have done so in the past. So watch this space.
More information regarding the diseases we vaccinate against is available at www.future-of-vaccination.co.uk.