Vaccinations are one of the cornerstones of disease prevention in dogs and cats.
They help protect by exposing your pet to a weakened or inactive form of the virus.
In response, your pet’s immune system will produce antibodies against this disease. So when your pet is exposed to the wild form of the virus, they are better equipped to defend themselves.
Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as parvo in dogs, are not only expensive to treat, but can also cause serious clinical symptoms.
Some diseases like distemper (in dogs) and feline leukemia virus (in cats) are incredibly difficult to treat and can have long-term consequences that affect the rest of the animal’s life. Vaccination against rabies is required by law because there is no cure and the virus can be transmitted to humans.
Despite what people may think, rabies is still endemic in South Africa.
Puppies should receive their first vaccine at six to eight weeks of age. Thereafter, they receive monthly reminders until their last reminder at 16 weeks.
These vaccinations include the “5 in 1 shot” and rabies.
The “5 in 1” vaccine protects against parvo, distemper, parainfluenza and two types of adenovirus (one of which can cause hepatitis).
Kennel cough is an optional vaccination that can be added to the schedule if requested by the owner.
Once the puppy vaccination cycle is complete, it is then advisable to reinforce vaccinations annually in adult dogs.
Kittens should receive their first vaccine at nine weeks of age. Thereafter, they receive two further reminders at monthly intervals.
These vaccinations include a “3 in 1 shot” and rabies. The “3 in 1 shot” protects against feline panleukopenia (which is similar to parvo in dogs), feline rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus (which is a major cause of sniffling).
Vaccination against feline leukemia virus is strongly recommended, especially for cats allowed to walk.
Annual booster shots are recommended for adult cats.
Many owners do not see the point of annual vaccinations in adult animals. An overlooked benefit is that each vaccination visit includes a physical examination of the patient.
During the exam, the vet will check the condition of his teeth, heart, and body. In healthy animals, this may be the only time they see a veterinarian, which means it’s the vet’s only opportunity to catch early signs of illness.
A disease contracted at an early stage is easier to manage, progresses more slowly and has less impact on the patient’s longevity.
The veterinarian will also be able to advise you on diet and other preventative health care appropriate for your pet’s current stage of life.
Don’t let your pets get sick from preventable illnesses.
Discuss any questions you may have with your veterinarian.
• Information: Mercury Street Veterinary Hospital.
ALSO READ: New grief and bereavement support groups for pet lovers
ALSO READ: Three must-have travel accessories for pets