Vaccination (immunisation) is a very important step towards a healthy pet. It protects your pet against some potentially fatal diseases At Gordon Vet Hospital, we routinely vaccinate dogs, cats and rabbits every year.
When your pet comes to Gordon Vet Hospital for a vaccination, they are also given a very thorough physical examination (Health Check). A Regular Health Check for your pet is just as important for their health as pet vaccinations. Dogs, cats and rabbits should be seen at least once every year for a full physical examination and check up.
What diseases are covered in a vaccination?
1) Parvovirus (parvo) – This is one of the most common fatal infectious diseases in dogs, especially puppies. The symptoms come on quite rapidly and include; foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression and severe dehydration. Puppies can also develop serious complications such as severe enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine) which can be fatal.
2) Canine Distemper – This is a contagious and potentially fatal disease that especially affects puppies. It is now rarely seen due to dogs being vaccinated against it. The symptoms are:
a. sneezing, coughing and thick nose and eye discharge, vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of appetite and lethargy
b. severe neurological symptoms such as seizures and paralysis can develop
3) Hepatitis – Infectious Canine Hepatitis (Adenovirus): There are two forms of this virus that can affect dogs.
a. Type 1, causes Infectious Canine Hepatitis (IHC), which can lead to acute liver failure
b. Type 2 can be part of Kennel Cough. The symptoms if IHC include: vomiting, coughing, jaundice, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss, drinking and urinating more often.
4) Canine Cough – (Canine Tracheitis) is commonly called “Kennel Cough”. It is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs of all ages and is a combination of infectious viral and bacterial agents.
The symptoms are:
a. a dry hacking cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and in severe cases, pneumonia.
Puppies that develop Kennel Cough can become quite ill. Kennel Cough is fairly common in adult dogs and can be transmitted in boarding kennels, or even in social interactions between dogs as it is transmitted via air. Dogs that are vaccinated generally have much milder symptoms than unvaccinated dogs. Treatment is with anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and cough suppressants.
When should my puppy be vaccinated?
Vaccinations (Immunisations) are an important means of protecting your puppy against some potentially fatal diseases. For the first few weeks of a puppy’s life, their mother provides them with antibodies through her milk. These antibodies fight disease and give puppies immunity. The maternal antibodies do not last however, so puppies need to be vaccinated to produce their own antibodies. This builds up their own immunity so they can be protected from disease into adulthood. Puppies usually have a course of three vaccinations, normally given 4 weeks apart.
At Gordon Vet Hospital, we find the following schedule to be most effective:
- 6-8 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. This injection is usually given to the puppy by the breeder before you pick them up.
- 12-14 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Bordetella and Parainfluenza. This injection is usually the first one that is done by the puppy’s new vet. At Gordon Vet Hospital we vaccinate your puppy and give them a full health check (physical examination) to make sure they are healthy. We also discuss lots of other concerns you may have as a new pet owner (see Below in Health Checks)
- 16-18 weeks Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Bordetella and Parainfluenza. This is the final puppy vaccination. Puppies should be isolated from dogs of unknown vaccination / health status until after their final puppy vaccination. This means that they should not be mixing with dogs that may not be vaccinated. Yearly boosters are needed for life to maintain your puppy’s protection. Your vet will send you a reminder each year when your dog is due for the next vaccine booster.
- NB: If your puppy is older when you acquire it, a vaccination schedule is commenced anytime during puppy or adult hood.
- Puppy Health Check: When your puppy has its vaccinations at Gordon Vet Hospital, we will do a full health check and physical examination. We will also discuss with you other important ways to keep him or her safe and healthy. These include:
a. Heartworm and Intestinal worming
b. Flea and tick prevention
c. Puppy training / toilet training / general behaviour
What happens when my pet is an adult?
Annual Vaccination & Health Check
After the 3rd puppy or kitten vaccination, the next vaccination is due 12 months later and then every year after that. At Gordon Vet Hospital we send you a reminder of when this vaccination is due.
The consultation includes a full physical examination and check up. Regular Health Checks for your dog and cat are just as important for your pet’s health as vaccinations. Even though your pet may be in perfect health, regular check ups ensure your pet has continued health and longevity. It is the ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach! Quite a lot of information about your pet can be uncovered during their health check. For example, early warning signs of serious problems can be noticed. When detected early, many problems can be prevented or delayed. As they get older or develop a special medical condition, the check up should be at least every 6 months.
At Gordon Vet Hospital we will provide your pet with a comprehensive ‘nose-to tail’ examination. During your visit, one of our vets will look at and discuss:
- Weight (this is recorded at every visit so that we can see whether your pet’s weight is steady)
- Skin and coat (general condition and lumps and bumps)
- Ears (looking for signs of infection)
- Eyes (general exam, discuss anything owner has observed)
- Dental Examination (looking for signs of dental disease, bad breath)
- Heart /Lungs (using a stethoscope)
- Musculoskeletal exam (muscle and bones)
- Abdominal palpation (feel their abdomen)
- Parasite control
- Internal Parasites (check that your pet is on suitable heartworm and intestinal worm prevention)
- External Parasites (check that your pet is on suitable flea and tick prevention)
In between the annual check up there are some basic things you need to do to make sure your cat or dog stays as healthy as possible.
- Feed a good quality, nutritious diet (e.g. Hill’s Science Diet)
- Pet Dental care
- Weight control (a regular diet and exercise)
- Maintain proper parasitic control (Internal and External)
- Keep a close eye on your pet’s general wellbeing (observing any change in behaviour such as not eating, lethargy etc)
- Seek veterinary advice as soon as you notice changes in your pet
What diseases are covered in a vaccination?
1) Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Infection or “cat flu” – Cat flu is by far the most common vaccinated disease we see today.
Symptoms include: sneezing, nasal discharge, conjunctivitis, fever and loss of appetite. In severe cases, mouth and eye ulcers are seen. The disease can be fatal in some cases, particularly in susceptible cats such as the very young, the very old or immunosuppressed cats.
Cat flu symptoms are usually caused by infection with one or both of the cat flu viruses – Feline herpes virus and Feline calicivirus.
Feline herpes virus can cause life-threatening illness and although the majority of cats infected make a full recovery, they are often left with permanent effects of the disease, such as the “snuffles” or chronic eye infections. Sometimes cats become carriers for life and the disease represents itself in times of stress (for example visiting the cattery or when the cat is unwell). During these times, the carriers are highly contagious to other cats that are not vaccinated.
Feline calicivirus can cause painful mouth ulcers which make it difficult for the cat to eat. The ulcers can occur in the mouth, hard palate or on the nose.
2) Feline Enteritis (Feline Parvovirus) and has a very high mortality rate, particularly in unvaccinated kittens. Affected kittens become sick very quickly, with severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Feline enteritis is far better prevented by vaccination than treated.
3) Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) causes severe weakening of the immune system, leaving the cat vulnerable to a wide variety of other diseases and infections. Infection between cats relies on close contact e.g. cat fights. The virus is transmitted in saliva and so can even be transmitted by grooming or sharing food bowls. Cats usually remain infected for life, leading to chronic disease and a progressive deterioration in health over time.
4) Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) or Feline AIDS causes weakening of the immune system also. This vaccine is optional for outdoor cats that are risk of contracting Feline AIDS.
When should my kitten be vaccinated?
Vaccinations are a means of protecting your kitten against potentially fatal viral diseases of cats.
At Gordon Vet Hospital we find the following schedule to be the most effective:
- 6-8 weeks Feline Enteritis and Cat Flu (F3)
- 12 weeks Feline Enteritis, Cat Flu, Leukaemia (F4)
- 16 weeks Feline Enteritis, Cat Flu, Leukaemia (F4)
Annual vaccinations are continued for life. A reminder will be sent to you each year.
What if I want to board my dog or cat?
Vaccinations for your dog or cat must be up to date (i.e. have been done within the last year) for your pet to be allowed into a boarding facility.
Some dog boarding kennels require the “kennel cough” (Canine Cough) component of the vaccine (Bordetella and Para influenza) be administered directly into the respiratory tract via an intranasal vaccine called Bronchi shield. We usually administer this component in an injectable formulation in the 5-in-1 vaccine, as it is much easier to administer that way and most kennels will accept regular C5 vaccines. Please check with your boarding kennel prior to coming in for vaccination as to which route of administration they prefer.
Please give us a call at Gordon Vet Hospital and we can explain it if you are unsure.
What if I want to take my dog or cat overseas?
Additional vaccines may be required if you are taking your dog or cat overseas.
Please contact us at Gordon Vet on 9498 3000 and speak with one of our quarantine vets (DAFF Accredited) for further information.
Our DAFF Accredited Vets are: Dr Scott Lackenby and Dr David Loneragan
Does my rabbit need a vaccination?
Rabbits require a vaccination every 10 months against calicivirus. Also known as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease, calicivirus is associated with a very high mortality rate, with affected rabbits showing signs of severe diarrhea, bloating and fever. Multiple organ failure can occur due to haemorrhage. It is also highly contagious, spreading easily through particles in the air or via insects such as mosquitoes.
At what age does my rabbit need a vaccination?
Rabbits should be vaccinated between 10-12 weeks of age, then a booster given every 10 months after that for life. This also includes an annual health check, which is extremely important to ensure your rabbit remains healthy.
What about myxomatosis?
Unfortunately, we still see many cases of myxomatosis. There is no vaccine against myxomatosis available in Australia due to government regulations. Myxomatosis is a debilitating, painful disease where rabbits develop swollen eyes, genitalia and ears and severe breathing problems. The mortality rate is almost 100% but unfortunately many rabbits carry the disease for a long time and suffer before they die. Mosquito nets should be put over the hutch at night to help avoid contracting these diseases.