Vaccination is a very useful tool that we have in preventing and reducing infectious animal diseases. At the RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre, all animals are examined and if needed receive a vaccination course to be protected. Some of these diseases unfortunately can be fatal or can be passed onto humans so it is important for these vaccinations to remain up to date to keep our animals, our staff and the general public safe. We are going to highlight the main vaccinations that can be given and the importance of these for the animals under our care.
Dogs normally receive vaccinations against the following diseases; Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and strains of Leptospirosis. As a puppy this will be a course of two vaccinations to provide immunity and then as the dog reaches adulthood it will require a regular booster vaccination. For Leptospirosis it is important that this is annual as we know that the vaccination will not provide protection in most dogs for longer than a year. Depending on the type of vaccination used, your vet will discuss the frequency of the rest of the vaccinations.
In certain circumstances dog are at higher risk of certain diseases. On farms, in heavily populated wildlife areas or near watercourses there will be an increased risk of Leptospirosis due to the spread of this disease by rats and other animals. Unfortunately we still see outbreaks of Parvovirus in certain areas and this can be life threatening for animals without immunity. The diseases will cause different symptoms; for example Leptospirosis has an effect on the kidneys, Parvovirus has an effect on the digestive tract and Distemper can lead to neurological signs. By keeping your pet up to date with vaccinations, you are protecting them as well as reducing the risk for other animals too. Always keep your animals vaccinations up to date and speak to your vet if you think these could have lapsed.
Kennel Cough is a vaccination that is given by a squirt of liquid up the nostril. Whilst it is not fully effective at preventing Kennel Cough, it will have an effect similar to the flu vaccination to reduce symptoms, severity and increase speed of recovery for the animal. Boarding kennels will normally insist on it being done at least a couple of weeks prior to entry and it can be a good idea for dogs who will be in highly populated dog areas where the risk of disease is greater. All of our dogs in the centre will receive Kennel Cough vaccination in order to reduce the risk of Kennel Cough outbreaks. A yearly booster vaccination is needed for Kennel Cough.
Rabies vaccination is not needed in the UK but will be essential when travelling abroad. Travel outside of the UK will require passports, vaccination and your pet may require blood tests. Always speak to your vet well in advance of travel so that there is time for these essential aspects to be completed.
Cats receive vaccinations at the centre against cat flu viruses. These are feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia virus and feline herpes virus. There is an additional vaccination against feline leukaemia virus but this will be discussed prior to adoption for each animal. Just like in puppies, kittens will receive a primary course of vaccinations and then in adulthood a yearly vaccination is given. Again, depending on the vaccination used, this may be a full booster every three years and then a reduced amount of vaccinations in between on an annual basis.
Cat flu viruses usually present as respiratory or eye infections and can be serious for our pets. These viruses can be easily passed on, so it important to keep these vaccinations up to date if your cat is going outdoors and meeting other cats in the neighbourhood. Feline leukaemia virus can be passed on through saliva or nasal secretions. We see it commonly in cats that have close contact through fighting. It can be useful to test for this virus prior to vaccination with a blood test but if your cat has not got the virus, a primary course can be given and then annual vaccination to provide immunity.
Rabbits will receive vaccinations against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) Strains 1 and 2 at the centre. Rabbits can be vaccinated from an early age and require a booster vaccination which is usually yearly to keep them up to date. Myxomatosis causes swollen eyes, lips and bottoms. It is normally fatal and can be extremely sore for the rabbit due to the inflammation. We see this disease in the wild population of rabbits and we know that these diseases can be passed on via flies, fleas or mosquitoes. Direct contact with an infected rabbit can lead to transmission but this is less common. RHD 1 has been around for quite some time and unfortunately leads to sudden death and bleeding. RHD 2 is a newer disease with very few signs and leads to a sudden death. The good news is there are now vaccinations against both strains as well as Myxomatosis. Make sure your rabbit is fully vaccinated against these diseases. Whilst they don’t go out like our dogs and cats, they are still at risk.
We hope you have found this blog informative about the vaccinations that are routinely given to our pets. If you have any questions, speak to your vets who can inform you about your pet’s individual needs.