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Why Vaccinate Your Pet?

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Before the introduction of human vaccinations, deadly diseases were rife in our populations. Vaccinations were instrumental in reducing the risk of a number of diseases. However, for our pets that risk still remains for a number of diseases.

Vaccinating greatly lowers the risk of your pet contracting one of these diseases. It gives you peace of mind that they can go anywhere and interact with other animals without the risk of infection.

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What do we vaccinate against?


Parvovirus – Highly contagious virus which is mainly spread via faeces of infected dogs. The disease is relatively common and there are regular outbreaks, meaning vaccination is crucial.

Distemper – Version of the same virus which causes measles in humans, this disease most commonly affects pets under a year.

Leptospirosis – Mainly carried by rats, transmission to dogs can be via infected water or direct contact. All dogs exercised outside run the risk of infection, and can pass it on to humans. At Medivet we now offer a vaccination which protects against even more strains of this virus.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis – Quick-developing disease which can kill affected dogs within hours. Spread via bodily fluids and affects the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs.

Kennel Cough – This highly contagious disease affects a dog’s respiratory tract. Whilst not normally fatal in healthy dogs, it can lead to pneumonia and death for young, old and unwell dogs.


Feline Rhinotracheitis herpesvirus – A strain of cat ‘flu which causes respiratory disease (infection of the eyes, nose and throat). Affected cats will have the disease for life if they survive.

Feline Panleucopenia – Similar to the parvovirus in dogs, this causes death, particularly in young cats and kittens.

Feline Calicivirus – This strain of cat ‘flu mainly affects cats living in large groups so is particularly dangerous for kittens. Symptoms are similar to human flu but can vary in severity.

Feline Leukaemia Virus – This suppresses a cat’s immune system, making them susceptible to developing other health issues. It is passed on via prolonged contact with an infected cat’s saliva. Cats with the disease may not show any symptoms for a number of months.

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Myxomatosis – This manmade disease was illegally introduced in the 1950’s and has been infecting both wild and domestic rabbits ever since. It causes localised swellings, often accompanied by a respiratory infection, and death is protracted. 

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) – This is now endemic in wild rabbits in the UK and can pass to domestic pets. Some affected rabbits may die without ever displaying a symptom.

Cats, dogs and ferrets travelling abroad will also require a rabies vaccination prior to travel.

Can’t you just treat the disease?

In the case of many of the diseases we vaccinate against, there is simply no cure. This means that an affected pet will die and there is nothing that can be done apart from making them comfortable.

Even where diseases such as Kennel Cough are non-fatal, they are highly contagious and very unpleasant for your pet, meaning that poor pets could become infected and suffer greatly.

Some of these diseases, such as Leptospirosis, are zoonotic, meaning that they can be transferred to us too.

But I’ve heard that pets can be over-vaccinated?

It’s not necessary for pets to have some vaccines on an annual basis. This is why we have a vaccination protocol that specifies which elements of a vaccination a pet needs and makes sure we are only vaccinating them with what they need to keep them safe and protected.

We can now offer you the option of a VacciCheck. This enables us to check whether a pet’s antibody levels are low enough to need a booster when they come in for their annual health check.  VacciCheck can also be used after a vaccination to make sure it has worked effectively to raise immunity levels. Please speak to your vet about this testing.

I’ve been told that my pet needs TWO vaccinations – why?

If your pet is having their first ever vaccinations as a puppy or kitten, or their vaccinations have lapsed then they will not have an existing level of protection. For this reason, we give them a primary vaccination course. Think of this as a ‘belt and braces’ approach, designed to make sure your pet is completely covered.

If a pet’s vaccinations are current then we just ask you to come in for a yearly health check, giving the vet the opportunity to give your pet a thorough nose-to-tail examination. Your vet will assess your pet and only vaccinate with the core elements your pet needs at that time. This keeps your pet’s immunity levels ‘topped-up’ and at the optimum level for their lifestyle.

Depending on what your individual pet needs, they may require alternative vaccinations to those listed here.


Remember: If your pet has to go into kennels or a cattery, they will normally request that your pet is up to date with their vaccinations.

If you have any questions, want any advice or would like to book your pet in for their vaccinations then please give your local Medivet a call by using our online practice finder!

Posted April 14, 2014 in Preventative Healthcare

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