Vaccination is one of the most important measures of preventative care for pets and is the most effective way of protecting them against serious diseases.
How do dog vaccinations work?
Dog vaccinations work similarly to when humans have an injection, by inserting a small amount of the viral and bacterial antigen into the pet’s body. The body’s white blood cells quickly react to the antigen and learn to develop a protective response against the disease.
If your pet has been vaccinated against a disease and comes into contact with the virus, their system has already learnt a natural response to fight it off. The immune system recognises the antigens from the initial contact and activates a rapid defence response within a number of hours, to neutralise the disease.
Prevention is better than cure
At Animal Trust, our mission is to ensure all pet owners have access to the most affordable care, without compromising on the quality of treatment.
If your dog is not vaccinated, getting the following conditions can be extremely serious, as unfortunately, there still isn’t an available cure for all viral or bacterial diseases, and despite the advances in modern medicine, some unvaccinated dogs that get these conditions do not survive.
Many insurance policies will also require you to keep your pet’s preventative treatments up-to-date, so your policy is still valid to make a claim.
What do puppy and dog vaccinations protect against?
. Parvovirus is a serious viral infection caused by the spread of saliva and faeces between animals. The virus can survive for a year in soil, and so it will often remain in areas where an infected dog has walked for long periods. Unfortunately, humans can also carry the disease on their hands and clothing, which can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and dehydration in pets.
Pets can contract distemper by sharing food or water bowls with infected animals and from having direct contact with fresh animal urine, blood or saliva. Distemper is more commonly known as ‘hard pad’, as it can cause thickening of the dog’s paw pads and nose. Signs of this highly contagious disease include high temperature, discharge from the eyes or nose among other symptoms. Without the correct vaccination, distemper is a potentially fatal disease – sadly, there is currently no known cure.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis.
Caused by canine adenovirus (CAV-1), the virus can affect lots of areas of the body and causes varied and severe signs, although some dogs will have very mild symptoms while continuing to spread the virus. It is caught when a dog comes into contact with the saliva, urine, faeces, blood or nasal discharge of an infected dog. An infected dog’s urine can be contagious for up to a year, and the virus can survive in the environment for several months. Infected dogs can develop a cough, suffer from vomiting, problems with their blood clotting, have cloudy eyes and display a wide range of other signs.
Parainfluenza, an airborne disease, causes dogs to suffer from a harsh dry cough, having been in close contact with a many other dogs.
A condition most commonly referred to as kennel cough, is caused by a bacteria from the same family as the virus that causes whooping cough in humans. The symptoms are also similar which includes and a dry, severe cough that can last weeks. Although the condition is rarely fatal in healthy animals, is a very unpleasant airborne disease that is easily spread between dogs. For this reason, vaccination is recommended where dogs come into contact with lots of other dogs, such as at kennels or doggy daycare.
Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease which most commonly affects dog’s liver and kidneys. It is usually contracted by dogs coming into contact with contaminated water or the urine of other animals. Signs can include severe vomiting, fever, liver damage, shivering, diarrhoea, collapse and jaundice. Leptospirosis is regularly diagnosed in pets with active, outdoor lifestyles, who are most at risk of contracting the condition as they are more likely to come into contact with contaminated water.
Although rabies isn’t present in the UK, if you’re taking your pet abroad, you are required to vaccinate your pet against the disease under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Rabies is a severe and fatal virus which affects the central nervous system and is passed onto humans and pets if bitten by an infected animal. Symptoms can include fever, seizures, irritability and excessive salivation. Vets are actively trying to eliminate rabies from the world with “Mission Rabies”, the leading rabies charity. Read about how Mission Rabies is trying to keep people and animals safe on their website.
If you’re visiting a veterinary clinic to take your pet for their vaccinations, the vet will run a nose to tail health check to ensure they’re healthy enough to be administered a vaccine. The health check will include checking your pet’s weight, the health of their fur, ears, eyes, teeth and their temperature to detect any possible signs of infection or being unwell. If your pet is sick, they will need to make a full recovery before receiving their vaccinations.
What vaccinations do puppies need?
When they’re born, puppies are naturally protected against diseases from the intake of their mother’s milk, which contains the antibodies required to fight infections. This is called maternal immunity and lasts during the earliest stages of a puppies life. While maternal immunity keeps pups safe, it also interferes with vaccines so we have to wait until the level of antibodies drops to administer the vaccination.
Once a puppy is old enough, usually at eight weeks old, they can have their first vaccine, which is followed up two weeks later by a second vaccination to complete the primary set. Because immunity takes a while to develop, it is recommended to not take your pet outside to high-risk areas for at least one week after the second vaccine.
How long do dog vaccinations last?
Once a pet has had their initial vaccinations, we recommend you provide a ‘booster’ vaccination annually. This helps to remind your dog’s immune system to continue protecting the body against the disease.
We don’t need to boost every element of the vaccine annually as some parts of the immunity last longer than others. Immunity to Parvovirus, for example, will typically last three years, but a disease like leptospirosis requires boosters every year.
While vaccines are extremely safe to give on a yearly basis, some owners prefer us to take their pet’s blood to test their immunity levels, before administering the vaccine.
If you have adopted an older dog and are unsure whether their vaccinations are up-to-date, your vet can restart the vaccination process, just like when they were a puppy. This is the best way to ensure your pet is protected from serious diseases.
Getting your dog vaccinated
Animal Trust is a not for profit business, which means that every penny earned is invested back into our clinics to update and provide our patients with the best treatment and facilities available for sick pets.
We want to provide the best treatments for your pets, which is why our dog vaccination price includes preventative treatment for fleas and worms at no extra cost.
If your puppy or dog needs vaccinating, contact your local Animal Trust clinic to book an appointment. If you’re already registered at another practice, this is no problem at all; you are more than welcome to visit one of our clinics in the north-west. Register your pet using our online registration form to speed up the process.