There are a number of diseases that can affect dogs which may be fatal therefore vaccination is essential. Puppy vaccinations do not last for life so regular boosters are needed. We recommend a first vaccine at 8 weeks of age and the second at 12 weeks. The first annual booster should be considered as a final puppy vaccine and is essential. The frequency of subsequent boosters may vary but the vet is best placed to advise on this. Some vaccination courses are licenced to start at 6 weeks and finish at 10 weeks but there is evidence that up to 20% of puppies may not have adequate immunity at that age. This is particularly important with parvovirus and in certain breeds notably Rottweilers. We advise a third vaccine at 16 weeks especially in this breed. Puppy parties allow socialisation of puppies in the period before it is safe to go out-of-doors 2 weeks after the completion of the vaccine course.
Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
CPV is transmitted via contact with infected faeces and vomit, and can be carried on dog's coats, contaminated clothing, feeding bowls and toys. Because the virus can live for many months in the environment, infection is possible even without apparent contact with other dogs. Symptoms are: severe vomiting and foul smelling, often bloody, diarrhoea. Dehydration, collapse and death occur rapidly. Sudden death can occur in young pups due to heart failure and surviving puppies may suffer from heart disease later in life. Most dogs will die without intensive treatment. Although anti-viral treatment has improved survival rates treatment is very expensive and recovery is not assured.
We now use a CPV2b strain parvovirus vaccine which reflects the current street virus. Most other vaccines still contain the old CPV2 or 2a strains which are known to be less protective.
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
CDV is transmitted via droplet infection and is picked up by direct or indirect contact from contaminated areas. Symptoms include: fever, diarrhoea, coughing, nasal discharge and conjunctivitis. Pneumonia, paralysis and death usually follow. There is no specific treatment for distemper. Survivors may be left with symptoms of brain damage that can range from constant twitching to uncontrollable fits, and skin problems including hard and cracked pads.
There are four forms of Leptopirosis. Traditional vaccines protected against just two: L.canicola is transmitted through the urine of infected dogs and can cause kidney failure although this may not be evident until later life; L.ictohaemorrhagae is usually picked up from the urine of rats especially near rivers, canals and lakes. Symptoms include: fever, vomiting, jaundice and death due to liver failure. It can be transmitted to man and causes the fatal Weils Disease.
Two new strains have recently emerged: L.grippotyphosa and L.Bratislava. These are only present in isolated areas of the UK at present but are endemic in Europe. Most dogs in the UK have no protection against these strains and infection could prove fatal even if they are on vaccinated with the old vaccines.
There is some contention over the safetly of the new L4 vaccines but these are unfounded. Nontheless we will make an assessment of each dog and tailor a vaccination program to its individual needs. Vaccination against leptospirosis is not long lasting and must be repeated annually.
This is spread through infected saliva, urine and faeces and attacks the liver, kidneys, eyes and respiratory tract. Symptoms include: fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and respiratory failure which leads rapidly to death. Dogs that recover may suffer from blindness and will remain carriers.
Coronovirus is transmitted through faeces and generally causes a mild diarrhoea although recent research has indicated that it may be able to cause a much more serious disease than previously thought. It is common in puppies and will greatly exacerbate the symptoms of CPV. Not all vaccines contain protection against Coronovirus but the ones we use do.
Kennel Cough/Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
This is transmitted by droplet infection from coughing dogs. Like human coughs and colds it is more easily picked up where individuals are close together indoors like training classes, shows or kennels - hence the name. It can be caused by a virus (parainfluenza) or a bacteria (bordatella) but the disease is worse if both are involved together. The main symptom is a debilitating cough which may rarely progress to pneumonia. Treatment with antibiotics is usually successful but prevention is better than cure. It may be transmitted to cats and cause flu-like symptoms.
It is not necessary at present to Vaccinate dogs against Rabies in the UK but a vaccine is available for dogs travelling abroad.
St Martins Veterinary Clinic
126 Station Road
Tel.: 01895 444400
Fax: 01895 431520
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