A number of diseases can still affect dogs in the UK and one can even be transmitted to humans. Dog Vaccinations are the only safe way to provide immunity against these diseases and if carried out regularly according to your vets advice, it can protect your pet for life.
Immunity and dog vaccinations
Immunity is the body’s natural ability to fight infection. A dog Vaccination confers immunity by exposing the body to a small but entirely harmless dose of the disease in question.
Immunity in puppies
Puppies are usually protected during the first few weeks of life, thanks to the immunity passed through the mothers first milk (colostrum). However, this immunity fades rapidly, leaving the puppy susceptible to disease within a few weeks. At this point, vaccination can take over from the mother providing protection.
The puppy’s first vaccination
The first time a puppy is vaccinated, a course of two injections is usually given, separated by two or more weeks. The vet will also give your new puppy a general check-up. It is important for young puppies to socialise with other animals as it improves their behaviour in later life, however, vaccination does not work immediately; it takes a week or so for immunity to develop. Your vet will advise you on when it is safe to let your puppy meet others.
What diseases do we vaccinate against?
- Canine Parvovirus, a hardy virus that can survive for long periods of time in the environment. It is usually fatal.
- Canine distemper (hard pad) another severe, usually fatal disease, rare in the UK in recent years due to vaccination.
- Infectious hepatitis still exists in the UK (although rare due to vaccination) and is often fatal.
- Leptospirosis contracted from the urine of rats and/or other dogs. Canals and rivers can be contaminated and forms of the disease are widespread in the UK. Can also cause severe disease in humans (weils disease).
- Kennel cough an extremely unpleasant harsh, dry cough, highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, usually transmitted in places where dogs gather together (kennels, shows, parks where lots of dogs are walked). Dogs of all ages can be affected; it is caused by a number of bacterial and viral agents. The coughing can last for some weeks and during this time serious complications such as pneumonia may arise, especially in puppies or older dogs, or where there are other health problems, such complications can occasionally prove fatal. Little can be done to cure the disease once it has started; you simply make the animal as comfortable as possible and try to control the cough with cough medicines (veterinary advised), in more severe cases antibiotics and other drugs may be needed to control secondary complications. It usually subsides after a few weeks. If your dog is likely to be in close contact with other dogs, you should consider intranasal kennel cough vaccine, providing coverage for a full 12 months, this vaccine can be given at the same time as the annual vaccination and health check (it is not included in the injectable annual vaccine). It is highly recommended and most boarding kennels now require evidence of this vaccination before accepting your dog.
- Rabies fatal disease, not found in the UK. Vaccination is required if your dog is travelling abroad.
Immunity to disease may fade, leaving your dog at risk. For some diseases boosters may be needed every 3-4 years but for some annually. An annual visit to your vet will allow for a general health check and necessary boosters.
Getting your puppy vaccinated is essential for your new pet’s health and plays a pivotal role in their preventative healthcare throughout their life. Register your pet with us online today to Book an appointment at Boundary Vets.
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Dog Vaccinations FAQs
Do dogs need to be vaccinated?
Vaccinations are essential for providing your dog with adequate protection from life-threatening and debilitating diseases. There is the option of Titre testing, which involves blood samples to determine your dog's immunity. Unfortunately, this is not always 100% reliable, it is costly to perform and leptospirosis would still need to be vaccinated against. This is why we would recommend core vaccinations on the whole.
Is it OK to not vaccinate my dog?
As veterinary professionals, we would always recommend vaccinations; the risk is not worth taking when it comes to harmful diseases that could be picked up by your dog and any point.
What vaccines do dogs legally need?
It is not a legal requirement to have a dog vaccinated, but it is highly advisable. Some kennels, dog trainers and day-care require vaccinations for all dogs to use their services. Insurance can also be invalidated if dogs are not vaccinated; be sure to check your pet insurance policy for this information.
At what age do you stop vaccinating your dog?
Dogs require annual booster vaccines throughout their lives; this is to ensure maximum protection against life-threatening diseases. Our choice of vaccines I based on the lifestyle of your dog, not their age.
Can I vaccinate my dog myself?
Under UK law, only veterinary surgeons can prescribe medications; vaccinations fall into this category. Your veterinary professional is required to complete a health assessment for your pet before prescribing and administering the vaccine. Like many drugs, vaccines can have mild side effects, which is why a health check prior is essential to ensure your pet will be fit and well after the vaccine is administered. Veterinary professionals are trained at administering these vaccines; this wouldn't be advised for a member of the public to administer themselves. Also, the vaccination bottles, needles and syringes require correct disposal. Some diseases such as diabetes require owners to inject their animal at home, but correct monitoring, training and equipment is essential.
If your dog is anxious or nervous, you can speak to the team at any time and we can make a plan to reduce as much stress as possible. For example, after a discussion between the owner and the team, some of our nervous dogs have a minimal health check and the vaccine may still be administered. This is carried out when an owner or we feel a health examination will be too stressful.
What vaccinations does my dog need?
Annual boosters usually cover leptospirosis and kennel cough (given every six months). However, distemper, parvovirus and canine hepatitis are usually needed every three years. Therefore, a dog would need a vaccine every year to have maximum protection against diseases.
Because of yearly vaccinations. our health plans are popular – they break down these costs into monthly payments. The plan also covers various preventative treatments, including flea treatments, worming treatments and anal gland expressions - if you haven't already signed up - click here to find out more.
Save money on your pet’s preventative care
Our Pet Health For Life Plan provides comprehensive care across your Pet’s lifetime, with the cost broken down into monthly instalments.
Annual health check, vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, microchipping, 2 vet consults and 2 nurse consults a year and discounted services are included in the plan.