Vaccines are essential to preventing life threatening illnesses in both humans and animals. We strongly recommend that all pets in our care receive vaccinations. The length of immunity provided by the vaccine varies between different vaccine brands, and for different diseases – it isn’t a “one size fits all”!
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a substance which contains weakened or genetically manipulated disease cells to make them harmless. Vaccines are made in many different ways but they all have the same effect – the vaccine is similar enough to the actual disease that it makes the body react as though it has been exposed to the disease. When the body is exposed to a disease, it produces cells and antibodies, which can attack and kill the disease.
The first time a disease is introduced to the body, the cells take a long time to respond and be made, however during the process, memory cells are made. These memory cells remember how to make the cells which killed the disease the last time. This means that the second time the body is exposed to the same disease, the reaction will be much quicker and more thorough, meaning fewer, if any, clinical signs should be displayed.
These memory cells only last a certain amount of time and after that, they are gradually lost. This means that the body forgets how to make those fighting cells. This is why having booster vaccinations is so important.
Do cats and dogs need different vaccines?
Yes, cats and dogs are susceptible to different diseases the same way humans and dogs are susceptible to different diseases. Therefore, they need to be vaccinated against different diseases. We also separate vaccines into core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Every pet should have the core vaccines while the non-core vaccinations depend on the local and lifestyle risk factors. For example, in the UK, almost all dogs are at risk of Leptospirosis, so although it is in theory “non-core”, almost all dogs are at risk, so we recommend it for almost all dogs.
Both feline and canine vaccines are administered via a small needle and the substance is injected under the skin normally between their shoulder blades.
Which vaccines do dogs need?
The core vaccines for dogs are against: Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper Virus and Canine Adenovirus.
Additional vaccinations may be recommended for your dog, including those against Kennel Cough (Bordetella Bronchiseptica), Canine Parainfluenza and Leptospira bacteria species.
The Kennel Cough vaccine is given intranasally. This is because immunity is too weak if given via injection. Both the Kennel Cough and Canine Parainfluenza vaccine should be administered to dogs who live or share environments with lots of other dogs.
The Leptospira vaccine is very useful, however just because your dog has had the Leptospira vaccine, it does not mean they will definitely not get leptospirosis – it reduces the risk though, and means they’re much less likely to become severely ill or shed the bacteria. Almost all dogs are advised to have this vaccination, because the bacteria are spread in water and in the environment by rodents.
Which vaccines do cats need?
The core vaccines for cats are against: Feline Calici Virus, Feline Herpes Virus and Feline Parvo Virus (feline enteritis).
Additional vaccines including Feline Leukaemia may be offered. This vaccine is recommended for any outdoor cat who will come into contact with other cats.
The vaccine for Feline Chlamydia (Chlamydophila felis) is recommended for cats living in large colonies or for cats who socialise with other cats, especially strays.
How often does my pet need to be vaccinated?
Different vaccines require boosting at different intervals. The interval depends on the minimum immunity your pet could potentially have in a given amount of time. We will be in contact with you to tell you when you are due an appointment.
Vaccinations are very important in preventing life-threatening diseases. To be responsible owners, we need to ensure our pets are getting the correct vaccines at the correct time intervals. Together, we can prevent multiple diseases!