Vaccinations are an essential part of keeping your pet safe from infectious disease. However, not every dog or cat is at risk from every disease – so we tend to group them into “core”, or essential, vaccines (that every animal really needs to protect them), and “non-core”, or option, vaccines (that may be needed in some situations, depending on the individual’s lifestyle and risk factors.
For dogs, the essential diseases to protect against are Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis – all dogs are at risk from these potentially fatal infections. Parvo is still common; distemper and hepatitis are rarer only because of widespread vaccination. Leptospirosis is present throughout the UK, and there are three major strains that can cause serious disease – and can even be transmitted to humans. Sadly, treatment for all four conditions is often ineffective, so prevention is definitely better than cure! In addition, we also recommend kennel cough vaccines for all our canine patients.
For cats, the essential diseases to protect against are “cat flu” – Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus – and Panleukopenia. All cats are at risk from these diseases, and panleukopenia is frequently fatal. We also recommend Feline Leukaemia vaccines for all our feline patients.
For rabbits, there are 3 killer diseases that are almost always fatal in unvaccinated bunnies – Myxomatosis, Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 1 and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2. We have effective and safe vaccines against all three, and we advise all rabbits get protected.
However, there are other disease that we can offer protective vaccines against, depending on your pet’s individual risk:
- Rabies (cats, dogs and ferrets who travel abroad)
- Lyme Disease (dogs)
- Leishmania (dogs who travel abroad)
- Chlamydia (cats who are at particular risk)
Our vets will always talk to you about what the risks are, so you can decide which of these extra vaccines – if any – your pet needs.
Unfortunately, immunity doesn’t last forever – although the protection against some diseases lasts longer than others. So while we strongly recommend annual boosters, not every dog or cat will get the same shots every year. The annual “booster” is also a great opportunity to have a chat to the vet about anything that you’ve noticed or that might be bothering your pet; and for the vet to give them a thorough check up for any early signs of problems.
So do talk to one of our vets for more details!
It’s a legal requirement that all dogs are microchipped, but we strongly advise it for cats, rabbits and tortoises too! The reason is that this little chip (the size of a grain of rice) will allow them to be reunited with you if they wander off. It’s a single injection and in most cases, the chip lasts for life. So do talk to us about it next time you come in!
Please be aware that there is currently a national shortage of cat vaccines from the manufacturers. This is due to a 25% increase in pet ownership (and subsequent demand for vaccines) since the pandemic.
We are prioritising unvaccinated kittens for their primary courses and we hope to avoid any disruption for these most vulnerable patients. Kittens will be booked for their primary courses as normal.
Adult cat boosters will initially be delayed for two months but may be delayed for longer if the required doses remain unavailable.
Please be reassured that there is a three-month window to give cats their booster vaccinations. Even after this period has lapsed, we would expect some residual effect of the vaccination, although there may be a minimal risk.
To ensure you remain informed of when your pet’s vaccine is due, our vaccine reminder service* will continue, however, we ask clients to only contact us after receiving the second vaccination reminder and we will attempt to book a vaccination appointment a month following.
There is a similar issue with the supply of dog vaccinations but we do not currently expect this to disrupt appointment availability. We currently have a two week wait for a routine appointment for a dog vaccine.
*We will endeavour to notify clients when vaccines become available however the ultimate responsibility is with you, the owner, to ensure that the booster vaccination is booked in. WHVS accepts no liability for costs incurred in restarting vaccination courses.