We love our pets and would do anything to keep them safe, happy and healthy. Vaccinating your pet is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep them protected, and is important at all stages of their lives. Keep reading for more information on what vaccinations protect against, how often pets need to be vaccinated, and why it’s such an important part of your pet care routine.
Why do pets need to be vaccinated?
Vaccinations help to prevent serious, life-threatening diseases in your pet. Regular vaccination is an important part of routine health care, ensuring that your pet remains fit and well. At the time of vaccination, a thorough physical examination will also be performed by your vet. Because unfortunately our pets can’t talk to us, this examination is vital for assessing their ongoing health.
Vaccinating your cat
What do cat vaccinations protect against?
There are three main vaccinations available for cats, which protect against a variety of diseases.
F3 vaccine – protects against Feline Panleukopaenia, Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus and Feline Calicivirus. This is known as a core vaccine, recommended for ALL cats.
Feline Panleukopaenia is a disease of the intestinal tract that progresses very quickly and is often fatal. Your cat may come into contact with this disease via its environment as it is caused by an extremely tough virus that can survive for months in an environment.
Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus and Feline Calicivirus are both causes of a respiratory disease in cats, also known as Cat Flu. Cat Flu can be quite debilitating and once contracted, cats may show symptoms on and off for the rest of their lives when under stress.
FIV vaccine – protects against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
This is a blood-borne disease and most commonly spread when cats fight. Over time, FIV suppresses the immune system, causing your cat to become more susceptible to infection and illness. A blood test can be performed to detect infection in your cat. There is no cure for FIV and it can eventually lead to death. FIV is specific to cats and is not transmissible to humans, dogs or any other species.
This is not a core vaccine and is only recommended for cats at high risk of contracting this disease. Talk to your vet to determine if this vaccination is necessary for your cat.
FeLV vaccine – protects against Feline Leukaemia virus.
By attacking the immune system, this virus makes cats more susceptible to infection and illness as well as more prone to develop some cancers. A blood test can be performed to detect infection in your cat. There is no cure for this often fatal disease. FeLV is spread through close contact between cats such as grooming or sharing food bowls.
Like the FIV vaccine, this is not a core vaccine and is only recommended for cats at high risk of contracting this disease. Talk to your vet to determine if this vaccination is necessary for your cat.
When do cats need to be vaccinated?
Cat vaccinations need to be given once a year, every year to ensure an ongoing, strong immunity. At this visit your pet receives a comprehensive physical health check, and screening blood tests if considered necessary. However if you have a new kitten or an adult that has never been vaccinated before, more initial vaccinations are necessary.
6-8 weeks old = F3
10-12 weeks old = F3 (also FeLV and FIV if necessary)
14-16 weeks old = F3 F3 (also FeLV and FIV if necessary)
2-3 weeks later = FIV (if necessary)
Adult cat never vaccinated:
Initially = F3 (also FeLV and FIV if necessary)
2-3 weeks later = F3 (also FeLV and FIV if necessary)
2-3 weeks later = FIV (if necessary)
Vaccinating your dog
What do dog vaccinations protect against?
There are two main vaccinations available for dogs, which protect against a variety of diseases.
C3 vaccine – protects against Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis and Canine Parvovirus.
These are life-threatening diseases that can cause your dog to become seriously unwell and may lead to death. Treatment of these diseases is very costly and still may be unsuccessful due to severity of this disease.
Your dog may come into contact with these infectious diseases by interacting with other dogs, or simply by sniffing or walking in areas where infected dogs have been. Parvovirus is an extremely tough virus that can survive for months in an environment. It is even possible for you to pick-up the virus on your shoes and transport the infection back home.
KC vaccine – protects against Canine Cough (aka. Kennel Cough)
This is a respiratory infection easily spread between dogs, not just in kennel environments. Most kennel or group housing facilities require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough. The KC vaccine aims at decreasing the severity and likelihood of contracting this disease.
When do dogs need to be vaccinated?
Dogs need to be given the C3 vaccination and KC vaccinations need to be given once a year, every year to ensure an ongoing, strong immunity (however some brands of C3 may only need to be administered every three years).
At this visit your pet receives a comprehensive physical health check, and screening blood tests if considered necessary. However if you have a new puppy or an adult dog that has never been vaccinated before, more vaccinations are needed at the start.
6-8 weeks old = C3 vaccine and KC vaccine
10-12 weeks old = C3 vaccine and KC vaccine
14-16 weeks old = C3 vaccine and KC vaccine (depending on the vaccine type used)
Adult dogs never vaccinated:
Initially = C3 vaccine and KC vaccine
4 weeks later = C3 vaccine and KC vaccine (depending on the vaccine type used)
A blood test can be performed to determine if your pet has a degree of lasting immunity from previous vaccinations- known as a ‘titre test’. Unfortunately this blood test cannot determine how long this immunity will continue to last, and thus would need to be repeated throughout your pet’s life to ensure adequate protection against these diseases. If interested, please talk to one of our Vets about titre testing. Unfortunately the test does take some time for the results to be determined as the blood sample is sent away to an external lab, and does come at a higher cost than vaccination alone.
Vaccinating your rabbit
What do rabbit vaccinations protect against?
Calicivirus – This disease causes haemhorraging and damage to a rabbit’s internal organs, ultimately resulting in death. Calicivirus is highly infectious and can cause death within 24-72 hours of infection.
It is transmitted through the secretions (saliva, nasal secretions, faeces and urine) of infected rabbits. It can also be transmitted through biting insects, such as fleas and mosquitos, that have come into contact with the disease.
Currently rabbits CANNOT BE VACCINATED AGAINST MYXOMATOSIS. Pet rabbits do not possess any resistance to myxomatosis, and mortality rates are between 96-100%. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for myxomatosis available in Australia and once contracted, it is almost invariably fatal, so the only way to protect your pet rabbit is to make sure they can’t be bitten by mosquitos. Keep your bunnies indoors from dusk until dawn, or cover the hutch with mosquito wire.
When do rabbits need to be vaccinated?
Rabbits can be vaccinated from 10 weeks old. it is currently recommended that rabbits receive a booster vaccination one month after the initial vaccination, then boosters every six months.
Unfortunately rabbit vaccinations are never 100% effective, so keeping your rabbit indoors is highly recommended to prevent against diseases.