Canine Vaccinations & Checks-Ups

We strongly believe that dogs should have a regular vaccinations and health check combined. Vaccinations help prevent serious and potentially fatal diseases and the health check allows us to give you guidance on keeping your pet healthy.

As well as this, in the unfortunate event that there is a problem, we can address this as early as possible, thus giving us the best chance of success. It is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions about your pet.

Most vaccinations are given by an injection into the scruff of the neck and are well tolerated. For the routine boosters, annual vaccination is needed, but we rotate the type of vaccine over a 3 year cycle, in keeping with current thoughts on best practice.

What do we routinely vaccinate our dogs against?

Canine Parvovirus: This highly infectious and often fatal disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing literally thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Young puppies and areas with high unvaccinated dog populations are most at risk. In past 2-3 years there have been serious outbreaks in Coventry and Bristol in addition to the usual cases we see in our own areas. It can be carried on clothing and footwear, so we were lucky that it didn’t jump the Meriden Gap.

Symptoms include depression, vomiting, pain and profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea. This rapid loss of fluids leads to dehydration, collapse of the circulation, secondary infection and ultimately death. Intensive supportive care, hospitalisation and intravenous fluids are needed to give an unvaccinated dog the chance of surviving, and unfortunately not all will. So, please vaccinate.

Distemper: Canine distemper is a highly infectious virus that may occur mildly in some individuals but can prove fatal in others. Young puppies and areas with high unvaccinated dog populations are most at risk. Symptoms include runny eyes and nose and coughing followed by depression, vomiting and diarrhoea; or it can cause neurological signs and fits.  There is no specific treatment for distemper, so we provide as much supportive care as possible to try to get them through this very difficult period and minimise the damage. So, please vaccinate.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis: This infectious disease affects dogs’ livers, kidneys, eyes and lungs. It is a fast progressing disease within some dogs dying within a couple of hours of becoming unwell. Symptoms include fever, pale gums, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs that recover from this disease can remain infectious for more than six months spreading it through their urine and faeces into the environment. So, please vaccinate.

Leptospirosis: This is caused by bacteria that are spread through urine, including rats’. It is also a very serious zoonosis- i.e. it can be transmitted to people. Transmission occurs when your dog comes in contact, either directly or indirectly with infected urine, and we all know you’re never too far from a rat! Symptoms include lethargy and depression, abdominal pain, jaundice, going onto liver and kidney failure. Treatment for the disease is available although this does not guarantee survival. So, please vaccinate. We are currently  up grading our vaccinations to cover twice as many varieties of the infection, as the challenges are changing.

What other vaccinations are available?

Kennel Cough: This is a highly contagious disease made up of several different causes. All unvaccinated dogs are at risk, and despite the nick-name, it is more commonly spread in public places than in boarding kennels. The symptoms can be from a mild watery nose, to a harsh debilitating cough and the risk of a secondary pneumonia. Antibiotics can be effective against some causes, but not the viruses. The vaccination against Kennel Cough is a combination against a virus and a specific type of bacteria. It is a small amount of liquid which is sprayed up the nose. Some dogs may find strange at the time of administration, but it is quickly given. It cannot give 100% protection against all strains of Kennel Cough, but it generally helps. Also some kennels require it for boarding. Although the onset of protection is approximately 2 weeks; some kennels require a longer period beforehand, so check with your kennels.

Rabies: The UK is currently rabies free so therefore we do not routinely vaccinate against it. However, vaccination after 12 weeks of age against rabies is essential for any animal traveling abroad to not only protects the animal against the disease but also allow entry back into the UK. For those pets that receive the vaccine and are travelling under the EU Pet Passport scheme quarantine is not required. Read more about the PET Travel Scheme…

Puppy vaccinations: We usually suggest that you allow your new puppy to settle in for a few days before vaccinating, so you can see if there are any problems. But if there are problems at the very start, make an appointment, so we can sort them, don’t delay if your puppy is unwell.

Puppy vaccinations usually consist of 2 vaccinations. The puppies can start from 6-8 weeks of age. They must be 10 weeks old or over for the second vaccination, and there is an interval of 2-4 weeks between. ALL these criteria must be met.

So, for example, an 8 week old  puppy could have vaccinations at 8 and 10 weeks old; a ‘7-week-plus-3-days’ old puppy could have vaccinations at 7 weeks and 3 days, then at 10 weeks and of age; 10 week old puppy could have a vaccination at 10 weeks old, and a second at 12-14weeks of age.

It then takes another week or so after the second vaccination before they are covered.

Booster vaccinations: These are needed on an annual basis, but we vary what we give over a 3 year cycle. Some parts can last longer than others.

The first annual booster should be within a month of the anniversary of the puppy vaccinations, i.e. you only have 1 month leeway. After that there may be a little more flexibility.

Does my dog really need all these vaccinations?

We see these diseases from time to time and some types more than others. As vets and owners, if you have experienced any of these cases or outbreaks, and witnessed firsthand the avoidable suffering endured by these poor souls, you tend to support vaccination strongly.

The only way to look at whether an individual needs the various components is to take blood samples to test their present immune status. The manufacturers’ recommendations are based on data that allows the vast majority of dogs to remain protected. At present, it is probably more unpleasant for your dog to have blood tests and then decide which components to use that year, than getting on and following the recommended vaccinations.

Vaccine reactions are very uncommon, and rarely ever cause lasting harm. On those few occasions, we tend to see puffy faces or more generalised swellings on the skin, which subside within a day or so. BUT we must not be complacent, and we will follow any substantiated future advances in vaccination protocols, as we have done so in the past. So watch this space.

More information regarding the diseases we vaccinate against is available at www.future-of-vaccination.co.uk.