Why vaccinate?

Whether pedigree or mongrel, un-vaccinated dogs and young puppies are at risk from a number of diseases which can result in permanent health damage and even death. Regular vaccinations can prevent some of these diseases. Newborn puppies, feeding from their mothers, will receive some temporary immunity from her but after a few weeks this immunity tends to diminish. This is when vaccination becomes essential.

Vaccines start at 8 weeks followed by a second vaccination 2 weeks later. These vaccinations are given by injection and a yearly booster is advised.

Canine Distemper
is transmitted through contact with an infected dog. The signs are flu-like symptoms – raised temperature, runny eyes and nose, a dry cough, diarrhoea etc. This often causes death or permanent disability.

Canine Parvovirus
is spread by contact with an affected dog or its’ faeces. The signs are fever, sickness and bloody diarrhoea. The virus can live in the environment for many months and can be spread on shoes and other objects. Dogs of all ages can be affected and it is often most fatal in young puppies and un-vaccinated older dogs.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis
is a very contagious virus which can be carried by dogs who have had the disease and recovered, thereby becoming symptomless carriers. It causes liver disease and respiratory problems. The disease can progress very quickly, leaving little time for treatment, and results in death.

Leptospirosis
is a bacterial disease passed through contact with infected urine. It damages the kidneys and the liver, and severe cases result in death. Survivors can have trouble with their kidneys later in life. Leptospirosis can also be transmitted to humans – which is another good reason for having your dog protected against this disease.

Kennel cough
occurs most frequently where there is a high concentration of dogs eg in a kennel situation, but the disease is air-bourne so can be picked up just as easily on a walk. The symptoms are a harsh, dry cough, and a nasal discharge which can last for several weeks but which is not usually life-threatening. Recovered dogs can be still infectious for up to 3 months. The most common form of this disease requires nasal vaccine which is effective for 1 year

Rabies
is not normally found in Britain, but rabies vaccine is essential if you are taking your dog abroad. Plan well in advance as the Pet Travel Insurance Scheme (PETS) certificate takes 6 to 7 months to become valid. This scheme is regularly updated, so check with your vet or DEFRA before planning an overseas journey.

It is devastating to see a loved animal suffering due to disease and knowing that there is often little we can do about it. Worse still when we know that there is something we could – and should – have done earlier. Vaccination now can save a load of heartache later.

…  Anne