We all want our pets to live long and healthy lives. Part of being a responsible pet owner is to ensure you’re up-to-date with the health requirements and knowledge of how best to look after your pet.
Vaccinations are an important part of preventative treatment. Whether you have a dog, cat, bunny or any other type of pet – vaccinations are vital for ensuring they stay safe against debilitating or even fatal illness. They also provide immunity from a range of infectious diseases that can affect you and your family, as well as keeping other animals safe against the spread of these diseases.
Here’s everything you need to know about pet vaccinations:
Why does my pet need vaccinations?
Your pet may have been able to develop some immunity from their mother, but like humans, they will need to be vaccinated against serious diseases that are circulating in Australia.
Some diseases, like Parvo virus, can exist in the soil of your neighbourhood and local parks for months. An infected dog will shed many millions of particles of the virus when they’re out on their walks. Unvaccinated dogs can be exposed to the virus particles while on a walk, or even in your own home on the soles of your shoes. Once infected, Parvo escalates fast and is often fatal.
For the sake of your pet’s health, and to prevent unnecessary transmission of disease, vaccinations are a lifesaver.
What types of vaccinations does my pet need – and how many should they have?
The number of vaccinations (and type) depends on the pet you have.
For dogs and cats, there are two schedules of vaccinations available.
Core vaccines are ones that every dog or cat needs to have (which is why they are called ‘core’ vaccines). These vaccines are administered to every pet, regardless of age, where they live, what’s in their environment, what kind of habits they have, their breed or circumstances. Core vaccines protect your dog and cat against the common diseases that they are expected to face in their lifetime.
Non-core vaccines are those that are given depending on where you live and what is happening in your local community. They’re even based on where you might take your pet – be it on holiday, or something much bigger like an international relocation. Non-core vaccines are administered based on geographic location, environmental conditions and your pet’s lifestyle.
How often do I need to vaccinate my pet?
Pet vaccinations typically take place during the first 6-16 weeks of their life, and after that, yearly depending on their routine care plan. When bringing a new pet into the home it’s always helpful to talk to your vet about what their routine care plan should look like, which will include their vaccination schedule.
Your pet’s vaccinations should be kept up-to-date to ensure their immune system is prepared against preventable disease. This includes before any trips you may take as a family, or any stays with friends, family, or holidays at kennels and at catteries.
A yearly routine check-up is one of the best times to discuss updating any vaccinations with your vet. Some pets may need to be vaccinated every year, others may require vaccination once every three years against certain diseases. Your vet will be able to provide you with the best advice for your pet and their circumstances.
When should I start vaccinating my pet?
The timing of vaccinations can depend on how old your pet is.
Younger animals, such as kittens and puppies, will get their first round of vaccinations when they are between 6-8 weeks old. Their final vaccine is given when they turn 16 weeks old.
For older animals, and animals you aren’t sure of their vaccination status, a chat to your vet can help clarify when they need to receive their doses. Sometimes a titre test will be ordered to check the number of antibodies in your pets system. If there are sufficient antibodies, then vaccination may wait, but if there is risk they could become sick and require better protection, vaccination will be advised.
Your pet can enjoy a happier, healthier life, and protect other animals (and humans) against disease by being vaccinated. For more information on pet vaccinations, click here or phone the friendly team at Matraville Veterinary Practice for a chat about your pet’s individual needs.