We vaccinate against 5 diseases: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis and Parainfluenza
Currently vaccinations are carried out against Parvovirus, Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis every 3 years and Leptospirosis and Parainfluenza every year.
A kennel cough vaccination is also available as an optional extra annual vaccination. This is recommended for dogs which enter high risk situations such as kennels and shows and also when there are local outbreaks.
Primary puppy vaccinations are carried out at 8 weeks and 12 weeks of age.
What we vaccinate against
Distemper and Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Thankfully these diseases are now extremely rare in the UK, although isolated cases are still reported. The success of reducing the frequency of these diseases is entirely down to vaccination. However in areas of poor vaccine uptake, cases of these diseases are still seen and they are invariably fatal.
This is a severe form of gastroenteritis leading to profuse bleeding from the intestines. It is more common in young dogs and is often fatal. Those that survive will require intensive treatment. This condition is still relatively prevalent. Although far fewer cases are seen than was once the case we have, nevertheless, seen several cases at the practice over the last few years.
Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial infection affecting the liver, kidneys and causing anaemia. The vaccine against this is not as efficient as other vaccines so must be given more frequently (yearly). The main hosts for this disease are rats so contact with rat’s urine is seen as the most likely source of infection. The disease is treatable if caught early enough but many dogs present so acutely that they are beyond help by the time treatment is instituted.
Kennel Cough is seen very commonly and is often seen as outbreaks with the disease being extremely contagious between dogs. There is a bacterial form of kennel cough caused by bordatella and a viral form caused by parainfluenza virus. Most kennels will insist on kennel cough vaccination having been given and most kennels will insist that this.
Concerns on vaccinations
As vets we are regularly asked as to whether vaccinations are necessary. This has come about due to the decreased incidence of many diseases as a result of vaccination but also due to health concerns about over-vaccination.
Whilst it is right to question the frequency of vaccination there is no doubt that there is a genuine need for vaccination as a concept and it is our belief that alternatives such as homeopathic nosodes are of little, if no benefit. The vaccination company that we use (Nobivac) has a good reputation for decreasing the frequency of vaccination where the evidence shows that we can do so safely.
We, as vets, are also guided by independent bodies such as the British Small Animal Veterinary Association. Nobivac recently carried out a large, nationwide study of the development of diseases such as epilepsy and skin problems between the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. There was no statistical difference in the development of chronic medical conditions between the vaccinated and unvaccinated population, suggesting that vaccination should not be implicated as a trigger factor for these diseases.
That is not to say that vaccination cannot have side effects. Individual animals may react badly to an individual vaccine and its use again would have to be carefully considered. There is one known and well-recognised condition that cats get on the back of their necks. This is an injection-site sarcoma, a type of tumour, which appears to be related to repeated injections (vaccinations or other) at this site. If we suspect this we would offer prompt surgical intervention.
On the whole, however, we believe that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. If you have any specific concerns, however, one of the vets will gladly discuss this further with you