Are your pets all set for summer?
With all this wonderful hot weather, your furry friends will be eager to get out on their walks or prowl the neighbourhood. You may even have a well-earned holiday planned, which may mean booking your cat or dog into a local kennel, cattery or even doggy day care.
While we very much want to encourage you and your pet to enjoy the sunshine, there are a few things to keep in mind. Greater contact with different areas and other animals will mean that any viruses that are lurking in the environment, or carried by others (including you, on your shoes!) can pose a risk to unvaccinated pets. Keep them safe by ensuring their vaccinations are up-to-date.
Why do you need to vaccinate your dog?
Dogs are social creatures and enjoy close contact with other dogs, for example, playing and wrestling. If your four-legged friend is a keen swimmer, they may enjoy taking a quick dip in a lake, canal or stream to cool off or quench their thirst! Sadly, if your dog is not vaccinated, all these summer activities can place them at risk of picking up an infection that could be life-threatening.
Why do you need to vaccinate your cat?
This summer our feline friends will also be spending more time outdoors prowling the neighbourhood, defending their territory and mixing with other cats. These activities can also make them vulnerable to picking up infections from the environment and through close contact with other cats via mutual grooming or fighting that could make them very poorly. In some cases, these infections will be fatal!
How do vaccines actually work?
For the first few weeks of your pet’s life they will be protected against infection by the antibodies that their mum will have passed onto them via her milk. However, these antibodies do not last and your pet will be at risk if they are not vaccinated by the time mum’s protection wears off.
Your pet’s vaccine will contain viruses and/or bacteria that have been changed or killed, so they can no longer pose a risk to your pet. When they are administered, they trigger your pet’s body to make their own protective antibodies. However protection can fade over time and will need topping up with a booster. This may be through an annual vaccination or every three years (depending on the vaccine and the disease). We can advise you on the best frequency and approach for your pet.
What diseases can vaccines protect against?
Your dog’s annual vaccination can protect them from:
- Kennel Cough (Infectious tracheobronchitis)
Note: Rabies vaccination is a requirement for dogs that travel abroad.
For cats, their annual vaccination can protect them from:
- Cat flu (Feline Herpesvirus and feline calicivirus)
- Panleucopenia (AKA Feline Infectious Enteritis)
- Feline Leukaemia
What are the common side effects of vaccinating my pet?
- Occasionally pets appear sleepy or have a slight temperature after their vaccination, this may last for a day or so but soon they’re back to their normal selves.
- At the site of vaccination a small lump can appear but again this will disappear in a matter of days.
In effect these common problems have a minor, transient effect on your pets’ wellbeing when compared with the potential impact on your pets’ health of contracting one of these diseases.
Ask us about any concerns you have, we’re happy to discuss the options.
- It’s often assumed that having had their vaccinations as puppies or kittens, that our pets will be protected for life and no boosters are necessary. This is untrue. A first-year vaccination (one year after completion of the puppy or kitten vaccinations) is essential to complete the protection of the initial course.
- After their initial course and first year booster, pets will vary in the length of time that their protection lasts. An immune response is particular to that individual animal. We recommend regular vaccinations to ensure your pet’s vaccination protection is topped up. Some diseases, such as leptospirosis, need yearly vaccination; others, three-yearly. We can advise on what your pet should be boosted for at their annual check-up.
- You can check your pet’s immunity at any time by having a blood test carried out. Please ask us if you would like us to do this.
A bit about vaccination of dogs against leptospirosis.
In recent years it has been realised that across the UK and Europe a wider range of strains of bacteria are triggering the leptospirosis in dogs than was once the case. Given the broader risk than was once recognised we now recommend that your dog receives this updated cover against Leptospirosis at the time of the annual booster.
In adult dogs receiving the vaccine for the first time, they will need to have a second top-up injection, 4 weeks after the first. All puppies will now have the updated vaccination included in their initial course.
Are you travelling to Europe with your pet this summer?
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows dogs, cats and ferrets to travel within the EU and to and from between certain other qualifying countries without quarantine, provided the rules of the scheme are complied with. Key elements include a necessity for microchipping, rabies vaccination and the issuing of a pet passport with three week wait between vaccination and travel
You can find the most up-to-date information on PETS on the official DEFRA website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs >
So, this summer, keep your pet safe and protected by ensuring their vaccinations are up-to-date! Please contact us if you’d like to make an appointment or check your pet’s vaccination record for you.