Vaccination of your pets

VACCINATION OF YOUR PETS

by Dr Liesel van der Merwe 

Much work has been done to determine the optimal frequency with which we need to vaccinate our pets – the aim being to minimise the overstimulation of the immune system with foreign substances,   whilst still maintaining protective immunity against disease.

Core vaccination is a term used for vaccinations which are recommended for all dogs or cats.

Non-core vaccinations are those which may be given to certain animals depending on their environment ( solitary pet / multiple animal households, breeding kennels) or risk of exposure (mix of different age groups , endemic condition) .

The vaccinations provided by the manufacturers are usually a mix of a few different viruses – thus we get a 5-in-one or 3-in- one injection . The rabies vaccine is always supplied as a separate vaccine but is often mixed in with the 3-in-one or 5-in-one injection. Some of the combinations combine core and non-core vaccines – these vaccine are generally made for European or American markets where the non-core disease profile is different to South Africa. With certain disease, non-core vaccines come as individual vaccine doses as they are only for selected patients.

(note – diseases like kennel cough, feline snuffles and diarrhoea may be caused by more than 1 kind of virus)

 

DOGS

Puppies

First Vaccination: 6 – 8 weeks

Vaccinate against :

  • Canine parvo virus (/parvoviral diarrhoea/ catflu / kat griep)
  • Canine distemper (hondesiekte)
  • Infectious canine hepatitis

Deworm – especially important in young puppies as they pick up worms in utero and from their mothers milk . Deworm every 2 weeks if the worming staus of the mother is unknown as a high worm burden can cause debilitation

Boosters must be given every 3-4 weeks . If you boost after trhis period – the initial vaccine effect in the body has waned and you are not “boosting anything – it effectively becomes a first vaccination again.

First Booster : 10 – 12 weeks

  • Canine parvo virus (/parvoviral diarrhoea/ catflu / kat griep)
  • Canine distemper (hondesiekte)
  • Infectious canine hepatitis

Final booster: 14 – 16 weeks

  • Canine parvo virus (/parvoviral diarrhoea/ catflu / kat griep)
  • Canine distemper (hondesiekte)
  • Infectious canine hepatitis

As well as the first RABIES vaccination

Rabies vaccine needs to be boosted within 1-9 months of the first vaccination

The easiest is to just give a booster a month later or at the same time you sterilise your pet or to boost all the vaccines 9 months after the rabies vaccine – your pet is about 1 year old then.

First annual booster vaccines:

  • Canine parvo virus (/parvoviral diarrhoea/ catflu / kat griep)
  • Canine distemper (hondesiekte)
  • Infectious canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

After the first annual booster – core vaccinations only need to be boosted every 3 years . However legislation in Southafrica may require more frequent booster injections – especially where rabies is endemic , of if you intend to travel with your pet.

Annual vaccinations: Dogs

  • Canine parvo virus (/parvoviral diarrhoea/ catflu / kat griep)
  • Canine distemper (hondesiekte)
  • Infectious canine hepatitis
  • Rabies

 

If you are vaccinating an sub adult / adult (adopted) dog for the first time: you only need to give 1 primary course and 1 booster course of injections 1 month later . Rabies is included in each set of injections.

(note for interest – the reason young puppies need 2 sets of boosters is that the earlier injections may not be effective as the maternal antibodies may interfere with the vaccine – the risk of not vaccinating as early as this is however that the maternal antibodies are already decreasing in some puppies – and they will be very susceptible to disease if vaccination is not started early. So we err on the side of safety. Adult dogs won’t have any maternal interference and they this only need 1 booster).

Non Core vaccinations in dogs include:

Canine kennel cough: Caused by Parainfluenza virus, Canine adenovirus 1, Bordatella bronchseptica.

As with the human flu vaccine – it is difficult to get an effective long lasting vaccination against these viruses as the have many different strains . This is exactly why we don’t have a vaccine against the common cold.

These vaccines are used in situations where risk is high such as breeding establishments and also if kennelling / boarding is planned. You get intranasal vaccines as well as subcutaneous vaccines.

Immunity is relatively short-lived ( 4-6 months) – hence boarding kennels require recent vaccination.

Leptospirosis – is a disease which causes kidney damage, liver infection and anaemia – it is not endemic in South Africa

 

CATS

Kittens :

First vaccination 8 – 10 weeks (called the 3 – in – one)

  • Feline panleukopaenia
  • Feline herpes virus (snuffles)
  • Feline calici virus (snuffles)

 

First booster vaccination 12 – 14 weeks

  • Feline panleukopaenia
  • Feline herpes virus (snuffles)
  • Feline calici virus (snuffles)

Most practices however vaccinate cats only twice. If vaccinations start very early – ie at 6 weeks – then a third booster at 16 weeks is indicated. To avoid interference from maternal immunity which may affect the early vaccine)

Rabies:

The first rabies booster 1-9 months and thereafter every 1-3 years depending on legislation

Annual Vaccination : rabies and 3-in-one

 

Non-Core Cat VACCINATIONS

Feline leukaemia virus

Kittens: Two doses 3-4 weeks apart from 8 weeks of age

If starting with an adult cat:

  • First check disease status – only vaccinate negative cats
  • 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart .

Annual vaccination not always necessary unless risk is high. Can boost vaccinate less frequently.

Bordetella (intranasal vaccine) -part of snuffles complex of infections

2 doses 3-4 weeks apart from 9 weeks of age

Chlamydophila felis (Chlamydia) -part of snuffles complex

2 doses 3-4 weeks apart from 9 weeks of age

FIV(Feline aids virus) :

Vaccination is not that effective – not recommended – – there are different strains of virus and we are not always sure which is present in the population. The vaccine doesn’t contain all strains.

 

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