Going to the vet repeatedly over several months for vaccinations, and then for boosters or titers throughout your dog’s life, may seem like an inconvenience, but the diseases that vaccinations will shield our pets from are dangerous, potentially deadly, and, thankfully, mostly preventable.
We read about so many different vaccinations, for so many different illnesses, that it can sometimes be confusing to know which vaccinations puppies need and which ones are important but optional. Here is an overview of the diseases that vaccinations will help your pet to avoid.
Many pet owners have misconceptions about vaccines, which significantly impacts the health of our pets. If you’ve made the decision not to vaccinate your canine or feline friend, it’s important that you have a full understanding of what this may mean for their health and wellbeing.
Vaccines work by exposing your pet’s immune system to an infection. This causes the animal’s white blood cells to start producing antibodies. The antibodies bind to the infection and neutralise it, working to kill off cells that have been infected.
Your pet’s body will remember this process and if their system is ever struck by the same infection, they’ll automatically produce the same strong immune response to fight it off.
Why is it Important to Vaccinate Your Pet?
Vaccinations are a very important part of your pet’s preventative health care. To provide them with the best possible protection, both cats and dogs need to be vaccinated while they are still young. By making sure your puppy or kitten is vaccinated early, you provide them with the best chance at a long and healthy life.
Diseases such as rabies, hepatitis, parvovirus, feline leukaemia and FIV can be very serious and even fatal, especially in puppies and kittens. It’s important to take preventative healthcare measures to make sure your cat or dog is protected against these diseases in the first place, rather than attempting to treat them at a later date.
Important Vaccinations for Cats
Feline Enteritis (also known as Feline Panleucopenia)
Feline Enteritis is very contagious, with symptoms of depression, loss of appetite, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood and severe abdominal pain. The disease has a high death rate, especially in kittens.
Feline Respiratory Disease (Cat Flu)
90% of cases of cat flu are caused by the feline herpes virus or feline calicivirus. Cat flu affects cats of all ages, but especially young kittens and Siamese and Burmese cats. It is highly contagious and causes sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and tongue ulcers.
Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)
Feline Leukaemia virus attacks the immune system, causing lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy, pale or yellow mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems and tumours.
Chlamydia (also known as Chlamydophila)
Feline Chlamydia causes a severe persistent conjunctivitis in up to 30% of cats. Kittens are at particular risk of Chlamydia when also infected with Cat Flu.
Important Vaccinations for Dogs
Canine Parvovirus is a serious and potentially fatal disease that attacks the intestines, causing bloody stained diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Dogs often die from severe dehydration and overwhelming infectia through this disease.
Distemper is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that causes fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis usually occur later in the disease.
A viral disease that’s extremely contagious amongst dogs and often fatal. Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, and acute abdominal pain.
A highly infectious disease most commonly spread through puppy schools, boarding kennels or dog parks. Dogs develop a dry hacking cough which can persist for several weeks and they may be at risk of pneumonia as a consequence of infection.
A serious disease that is spread by the urine of rats, leptospirosis is usually transmitted to dogs by contaminated food and water or rat bites. It can cause high death rates in dogs and t can be passed to humans, who may then suffer a persisting flu-like illness.
Include Dog or Cat Vaccinations in Your Pet’s Wellness Program
Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are always up-to-date. Talk to your vet about creating a wellness package that covers all the necessary core vaccines that they need to stay healthy.