Vaccines, whats involved?

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Whitehorse Veterinary Hospital
231 Whitehorse Road
VIC 3130

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03 9878 3033
03 9877 5129

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Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 4pm
Sunday: 9am - 1

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Vaccine; the administration of an altered antigen that produces an immune response in the absence of clinical disease.

Vaccinations are the MOST successful way of controlling infectious diseases. If your pet goes unvaccinated it will not only be a risk to itself, your family and other pets, it is a major part of responsible pet ownership.

As a puppy and kitten, your pet will need a course of THREE vaccinations over a period of 12 weeks. One at 8 weeks of age, 12 weeks of age and 16 weeks of age. This is due to the level of MDA (Maternally Derived Antibodies), which unfortunately we are not able to tell where they are at. If the level is too high, the vaccine will simply not work. Animals with high MDA may not respond to the vaccine until 16 weeks.

There are FIVE infectious diseases that dogs are vaccinated for. They are Parvovirus, Kennel Cough (two strains), Distemper and Hepatitis. 


There are two forms of ‘Parvo’. The common form is the intestinal form, which shows signs of vomiting, diarrhoea and lack of apetite. The less common form is the cardiac form which attacks the heart muscles of young puppies.


A disease which initially affects the tonsils and larynx causing a sore throat, coughing and eventually pneumonia, will eventually spread to the liver. It is spread by bodily fluids like saliva and urine. Early symptoms include coughing. Symptoms include coughing, lack of apetite, vomiting and abdomen pain. 


Dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. Symptoms include constant hacking, sneezing and nasal discharge. These vaccines will help, although they do not guarantee protection against kennel cough because it can be caused by so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses. It is just like us getting the annual flu injection but still getting a cold. 


A virus which affects your dogs respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems and can be fatal. Symptoms include coughing, mucus discharge form nose and eyes, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy. It is spread through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva (coughing and sharing water bowls)

  Now lets talk about cat vaccinations. Many cats have access to the outdoors at various parts of the day, roaming the neighbourhood and coming into contact with other cats. Therefore it is EXTREMELY important we keep our cats vaccinations up to date, protecting them from potentially fatal diseases carried by other unvaccinated cats including strays. There are four infectious diseases that cats are vaccinated for. They are FIV (Feline Aids Virus), feline herpes virus (Cat Flu), Feline Calcivirus and Feline Enteritis.


FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus / Feline Aids)

You are not at risk of contracting this disease from your cat as it is not the same as human HIV. If your cat is going to be an outside cat, it is highly recommended you vaccinate against it. The disease is contracted by getting bitten by an infected cat. Symptoms can vary from recurring illnesses, persistent diarrhoea and fever. 


This disease is the cat equivalent to the dog parvo virus. It is found in infected faeces and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Symptoms include poor appetite, lethargy, progressing to abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.


Symptoms include sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, loss of appetite ad lethargy. It is spread by bodily fluids of an already infected cat. Treatment may include antibiotics (diagnosed and prescribed by  your veterinarian).Although this may help, it does not guarantee protection against cat flu because it can be caused by so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses. It is just like us getting the annual flu injection but still getting a cold. It can also be caused by stress in your cat. 

FELINE CALCIVIRUS (Common respiratory disease)

Symptoms include eye and nasal discharge, fever, mouth ulcers leading to loss of appetite. Cats can come into contact with this disease in almost any environment due to it being resistant to disinfectants. Antibiotics may be dispensed to help treat and prevent any secondary bacterial infections.


How do vaccines work?

Vaccines stimulate the bodies defence system to produce protective antibodies which protect against the specific diseases we vaccinate against! 

Why are vaccines needed every year?

An initial vaccines’ protection does not last for life. An annual ‘booster’ is given to maintain your pets immunity against virus’ such as parvovirus, hepatitis, not one but TWO components of kennel cough and distemper. 

The incidence of the above diseases and virus’s have been greatly reduced by both early and annual vaccinations.

My dog never mixes with other dogs, does it still need to be vaccinated?

Yes. Your dog still needs to be vaccinated as many of the diseases are:airborne (such as kennel cough, which can be contracted through the neighbours fence), can be brought into the home on your shoes (parvovirus). 

The fact that your dog doesn't mix with others means is it isolated and their level of immunity may intact be lower than dogs that are allowed outside and to mix with others. 

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