Dr Louise is back to teach us all about vaccinations and the reasons why they are so important!

Vaccinations, why they’re so important

In light of the re-emergence of feline panleukopeania virus causing illness and death in young cats in Melbourne and Sydney, it’s important to ensure our furry friends are up to date with vaccinations. As a vet I see puppies and kittens for their three primary vaccinations and then for their yearly booster vaccinations. Do you ever wonder why your vet wants to see your pet year after year for their booster vaccinations?

It’s not just the vaccine injection that your pet benefits from. Yearly check ups with vets are a great opportunity for your pet to receive a full health check. It may not seem like anything fancy but a health check and a discussion with owners’ gives a vet a lot of information about an animal’s overall health.

Changes in weight, appetite and toileting can sometimes be subtle but can be the first signs of underlying disease. Dental disease and ear infections may be noticed by owners because they’re animal has become a little smelly. A coughing pet may have changes to the sound of its heart or lungs, which a vet can diagnose and treat accordingly. Health aside, I love seeing pets yearly to watch them grow and of course give them a cuddle, a kiss or a treat!

Then there is the dreaded needle. We vaccinate puppies and kittens three times when they are young. They will have some immunity to the diseases we vaccinate against because they get it from their mothers milk. This immunity wears off as they grow and start eating food on their own so we vaccinate them three times to ensure they are fully protected. We vaccinate dogs and cats yearly ongoing to ensure they still have a good immunity against nasty diseases.

So what are these diseases vets vaccinate against? The diseases are different for dogs and cats but these diseases can be severe and life threatening. They are easily spread between animals and picked up from the environment eg the dog park.
DOGS
The C5 vaccine is the most common vaccine given to dogs. This includes distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus and the two kennel cough components Bordetella and parainfluenza.

  • Distemper: the virus is spread between dogs via discharges from the nose and eyes. It causes a range of signs including, fever, convulsions and muscle twitching and can be fatal.
  • Parvovirus: this is a severe and often fatal disease. The virus survives in the environment for up to a year and is highly contagious. It causes sudden depression, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Adenovirus: the virus is spread in the urine of infected dogs. It causes hepatitis (liver damage), depression, a painful abdomen, cloudy eyes and can lead to death.
  • Bordetella and parainfluenza: Kennel cough is highly contagious and causes a dry hacking cough sometimes with retching. Fortunately it is rarely fatal. It is easily spread between dogs at the dog park, boarding kennels and at the groomers.

CATS
The F3 vaccine is the most common vaccine given for cats. This includes calicivirus, herpes virus and panleukopaenia. The FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus, or feline AIDS) vaccine is recommended for cats that go outdoors.

  • Calicivirus: This virus is part of the cat-flu syndrome. It causes upper respiratory infections and oral disease. Signs include sneezing, conjunctivitis and nasal and eye discharge. Oral disease includes ulcers on the tongue, roof of the mouth and lips.
  • Herpes virus: Another cat-flu component causing sneezing, nasal discharge and conjunctivitis. In severe cases it can cause dehydration and death. Cat flu is very common and the virus is spread between cats via sneeze droplets. Once infected cats remain carriers for life and flare up in times of stress (just like human cold sores which are a herpes virus!)
    • Panleukopaenia: This virus causes severe and often fatal gastroenteritis with fever, lethargy, anorexia then vomiting and diarrhoea. Young kittens are most at risk.
  • FIV: Feline AIDS is spread through saliva from infected cats when cats fight. It is not the same as human AIDS so you cannot get this from your cat. FIV suppresses the immune system (like human HIV) and cats become prone to infection leading to debilitation and death long term.

Let the team at Vets on Call help keep your furry friends happy and healthy year after year by giving your pets the health check they deserve.

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