Vaccination is vital to protect your puppy or dog from a wide range of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases. Prevention is better than cure and vaccination provides an effective and safe way to ensure your pet is protected.
At MBM Vets, we follow WSAVA guidelines on vaccination frequency. We can also offer blood testing to assess your dog's immune status for canine parvovirus, distemper virus and infectious canine hepatitis. There is currently no test available for leptosirosis antibody.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines stimulate your dog's immune system by mimicking a virus or bacterium without causing any of the symptoms of the disease. This means if your pet encounters the disease, it recognizes it and mounts a strong immune response, preventing the disease from establishing. A course of two vaccinations are needed initially to allow this immune stimulation to occur and after this, immunity can be boosted by re-vaccination at intervals.
When should my dog be vaccinated?
Vaccination should start as soon as possible, as younger animals are more vulnerable to infection and can be more severely affected than older animals. We advise vaccinating your puppy at eight weeks old and again at 10 weeks. Although it is very tempting to take your new puppy out to show it the world, remember that full immunity does not develop until one week after the second injection.
The vaccine we use at MBM has been chosen because it gives earlier protection than some other vaccines. This allows you to socialise your pup as soon as possible, which may help prevent behavioural problems developing.
We recommend an annual health-check and booster for your dog throughout it's life. However, the content of the vaccine varies each year and we only give the vaccine that your dog needs.
If your dog misses a booster by two or more years, instead of one injection, your dog will need two injections, two weeks apart.
Which vaccinations should my dog receive?
Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are common, highly contagious and cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis and Leptospirosis.
Bordetella and Parainfluenza virus cause 'Kennel Cough' and an intranasal vaccine is available for this.
Rabies vaccination is required if your dog is travelling abroad. Check with the practice at least six months beforehand and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
About the Diseases
Canine Parvovirus is a highly infectious virus spread by infected faeces, that is also very stable in the environment. This means it can be picked up and spread by owners' hands and shoes. Clinical signs include dullness, inappetence, severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Dogs often die from dehydration if not treated quickly enough. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Caused by Canine Adenovirus Type I, this disease is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions, such as saliva, infected urine or faeces. Clinical signs include loss of appetite, vomiting, jaundice and the development of 'Blue Eye'.
Vaccination against this often fatal, hard-to-treat disease is absolutely essential. Highly contagious, it belongs to the same family as that of measles and is spread by close dog-to-dog contact. Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting; convulsions and paralysis may occur in the disease's final stages. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers. Distemper is most common in three to six months old puppies. Ferrets can also be affected so we recommend vaccinating them against distemper too.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease, usually spread by infected urine, which causes liver and kidney failure in infected dogs. Importantly, this disease is zoonotic, which means it can also affect humans (Weils's disease). In people, there are a wide range of symptoms, from flu-like symptoms to jaundice, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Parainfluenza is one of the viruses implicated in the syndrome known as 'Kennel Cough', along with the Canine Adenovirus and the bacterium Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Clinical signs are generally restricted to a dry, hacking cough, mild fever and loss of appetite for a few days. Although this condition is not usually fatal, it is highly contagious and can cause more serious lung disease (bronchopneumonia) in neonatal pups and or older/debilitated dogs with other conditions. If your dog is going to boarding kennels, it will almost always be a requirement that they are vaccinated against this, although your dog may still develop a cough caused by other respiratory infections.