Pet Vaccinations - Dogs, Cats & Rabbits

Towcester Vets are passionate about promoting healthcare in pets. Our team believe that prevention is better than cure, so we have put together some basic information on vaccines. If you would like to talk to a vet about your pet, please contact us on 01327 350239.

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Why should I vaccinate my pet?

Disease prevention is part of responsible pet ownership. Vaccines are recommended to help keep your pets healthy and happy and to prevent spread of disease. Reducing the risk of exposure and carrier animals is important. Specific vaccines are available depending on whether you have cats, dogs or small furry animals.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to specific diseases. Introducing this to your pet stimulates their body’s immune system, helping them to recognise the agent as foreign and thus destroying the pathogen.

Dog vaccinations

What do we vaccinate against?

Our puppy vaccinations and adult dog boosters protect against distemper, canine hepatitis, parvovirus, and leptospirosis.

  • Distemper – distemper virus can be fatal, causing fits, uncontrolled muscle contractions or muscle weakness. It often permanently damages the dog’s nervous system, sense of smell, eyesight and hearing. It also causes a discharge from the dog’s eyes or nose, as well as sickness and diarrhoea coupled with pneumonia. Dogs that survive an acute episode are often left with brain damage and thickening of their pads on their paws and nose which is painful. This disease can be spread via bodily fluids and the environment.
  • Canine hepatitis – canine hepatitis is a potentially fatal disease. It causes serious liver and or kidney disease, coughing, fever and a painful abdomen. It can also cause bleeding disorders. If dogs survive, they are often left with characteristic “blue eye”. Infected dogs shed the virus in body fluids, especially urine and faeces and the virus can survive in the environment for months.
  • Parvovirus – this causes severe bloody vomiting and diarrhoea with high temperatures and dehydration. It can also cause sudden death due to damage to the heart in very young puppies. It is transmitted from infected dogs, and it can survive in the environment for up to two years. Intensive treatment is necessary for infected dogs and unfortunately not all dogs survive.
  • Leptospirosis – this is a bacterial disease which causes liver and kidney damage. This disease is potentially fatal in humans and is called “Weil’s Disease”. There is no vaccination available for humans and it is spread by rodent urine, often in waterways.
  • Kennel cough – infected dogs become depressed with a dry hacking “whooping” cough and whilst it is usually not fatal, some dogs may develop further complications. Puppies, sick and elderly dogs are particularly vulnerable. Dog’s visiting kennels or participating in group activities, such as training clubs, should receive the kennel cough vaccine which is administered via the nostril.

Cat vaccinations

What do we vaccinate against?

The usual kitten vaccination and adult cat booster consists of a vaccine that protects against cat flu, feline infectious enteritis and feline leukaemia virus.

  • Cat flu (feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus) – these two viruses are responsible for cat flu and can be fatal. This disease causes sneezing, discharge from the nose and eyes, conjunctivitis, mouth ulcers, coughing and, rarely, pneumonia. Many cats remain carriers of these viruses and therefore act as a source of infection for other cats.
  • Feline infectious enteritis (also known as feline panleucopaenia) – this disease causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and potentially sudden death. It can result in brain damage in young kittens whilst also surviving in the environment for months.
  • Feline leukaemia virus – this disease causes severe damage to the immune system, increasing the cat’s susceptibility to other infections. Transmitted by blood or saliva it can cause anaemia and cancer.

Rabbit vaccinations

What do we vaccinate against?

There are two vaccines for rabbits covering two deadly viral diseases – myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD).

  • Myxomatosis – this viral disease that causes lethargy, fever and swellings around the eyes and genitals. Secondary bacterial infections occur and cause pneumonia. Treatment is usually unsuccessful. It is spread by biting flies, so even house rabbits can become infected.
  • Viral haemorrhagic disease – this disease unfortunately is a rapidly progressing virus that causes death very quickly. Signs include collapse and haemorrhage. It is spread from contact with infected rabbits and also on “fomites” (an inanimate object or substance capable of carrying infectious organisms such as clothes, shoes, hair etc). In 2019 there was a rise in cases RVHD2 – type 2 of the viral disease so we always offer owners the opportunity to vaccinate against both strains. This is carried out anytime from 5 weeks of age, with boosters every 6-12 months thereafter.

What about potential side effects?

It is rare for any serious side effects to follow vaccinations. Mild reactions, such as animals being a little quiet or off their food, are possible but usually only last a couple of days. Some animals get a small skin lump at the site of vaccination, but this should disappear after a few days.

Any adverse effect is generally far outweighed by the benefit of protection against serious disease. If you are concerned about the risks associated with vaccinating your pet, then please contact one of our clinics.

Contact us to book a pet vaccination

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