Cats, dogs and rabbits can all catch diseases that in worst cases can become life-threatening. Ensuring your that pet receives protection against these diseases and a complementary health check will far outweigh the potential cost of treatment if they were to become infected. Your pet will not only need an initial course of vaccinations, but will also require an annual booster vaccination to boost their immunity throughout the years.
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Vaccinations for dogs
Your dog may pick up infectious diseases directly from other dogs, objects that they come into contact with, or the ground. Dogs are more likely to pick up diseases if they are together in large numbers, for instance going to the kennels, dog training classes, even somewhere a lot of dogs are walked, like the local common or park.
One disease, Leptospirosis, can even be passed on from your dog to you, with serious health consequences. Your dog may not meet many other dogs, but these diseases can be spread and carried on items of your clothing or shoes.
Vaccinations for puppies
It is possible to vaccinate puppies from six weeks of age but normally, the first vaccine is given at eight weeks of age. This is because the maternally derived immunity (MDI) - the antibodies your puppy received from its mother - starts to decline at this age.
The second vaccine can be given at 10 weeks of age. Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we follow the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) guidelines and give a third vaccination at 14-16 weeks of age. This ensures that all puppies who still had MDI at eight and 10 weeks of age receive protection for the diseases we vaccinate against.
We recommend that puppies are not taken out to public places until at least seven days after their second vaccination. However, socialisation is incredibly important between the ages of seven and 12 weeks, so if you have any friends with fully vaccinated dogs, you should try to socialise them on neutral territory (in their house or your house). Most puppy classes will also accept puppies after their first vaccination, which is a fantastic opportunity for socialisation.
Your puppy’s primary course of vaccinations does not cover your dog for the rest of his or her life. Regular booster vaccinations are required, the first of which should be given no more than 12 months after the primary vaccination course.
Your dog’s annual health check, which is included with the vaccination, can sometimes highlight any areas of concern you may have for your dog, or simply reassure you that your pet is in good health. Another reason to have an annual health check is to detect potential signs of disease so we can 'nip it in the bud' before it has a chance to develop. We can also check that your dog’s microchip is working.
If your dog misses their annual booster, they may have to start the whole course of vaccinations again to ensure they are protected
Vaccinations for cats
There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your cat. If your cat lives in a multi-pet environment, they may be at particular risk. For many conditions, you can protect your cat by ensuring they receive vaccinations. It is important to protect your cat from life threatening diseases to ensure they live a long, healthy and happy life.
Vaccinations for kittens
It is possible to vaccinate kittens from nine weeks of age, with the second vaccination given at 12-16 weeks old (with no more than five weeks between the two vaccinations). Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, we prefer to follow the WSAVA guidelines and give the second vaccination at 14 weeks of age to ensure that all of your kitten’s MDI (maternally derived immunity) has left the system by the time he or she receives their second vaccination.
An adult cat whose vaccinations have lapsed would have two vaccinations. three weeks apart. We would recommend that animals that have finished a primary course of vaccination are not let outside until at least seven to 10 days after their second vaccination.
Your kitten’s primary course of vaccinations will not cover them for the rest of their life. They will need to receive booster vaccinations, which will boost their immunity throughout the years. The first booster injection should be given no more than 12 months after their primary vaccination course. After this booster at year one, it is a good idea to complete an annual health review. This is where we can discuss the risk your cat is at of being exposed to the diseases we vaccinate against and whether a vaccination is necessary at that point.
The annual health check can sometimes highlight areas of concern with your cat. It is especially useful for checking their teeth, which often have a build-up of tartar which can be addressed. Early detection of some diseases may bring benefits and a quick check to ensure that your cat’s microchip is working can bring you peace of mind.
Vaccinations for rabbits
We routinely vaccinate rabbits once a year against myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD). These vaccinations used to be given separately, but there is now a combination vaccination available which only needs to be given once a year. We recommend a health check every six months for your rabbit, which is especially helpful for detecting dental disease early on.
Since early 2016, we recommend vaccinating your rabbits against a new disease that has spread across the UK. It is a variant of the rabbit haemorrhagic disease and is called RHD2. As yet, there is not a vaccine against this disease that is licensed in the UK, so we have been importing a vaccine from France (under the guidance of the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund), which we recommend giving once a year but which must be given at least two weeks apart from the myxo-RHD vaccination.
Vaccinations for ferrets
If your ferret regularly comes into contact with other ferrets or dogs, it is important to get him or her vaccinated against distemper. As there is not a vaccine specifically licensed for ferrets, we use the dog vaccine. It is generally recommended to give a vaccination at 10 and 14 weeks of age and then yearly thereafter.
If your pet is due their booster injection, or they require a primary course of vaccinations, please call a member of our friendly team on 020 8898 0528 to book an appointment.