If you go on holiday, any reputable boarding kennel or cattery will want to see proof of up-to-date vaccinations.
Vaccinations are vital for dogs to protect them against infectious diseases such as distemper, canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, canine parvovirus, and kennel cough. Despite the availability of vaccines, many dogs die each year from these diseases in the UK. We regularly see cases of parvovirus in the RSPCA Bristol Animal Clinic.
An initial course of puppy vaccinations can start from 8 weeks of age. After that, adult dogs need regular re-vaccination to boost their immunity level and ensure the dog remains protected. Your vet will advise on the most appropriate vaccination regime for your dog.
Three of the most serious cat illnesses are feline infectious enteritis, feline influenza and feline leukaemia. Vaccination will dramatically reduce the risk of your cat suffering from these diseases.
An initial course of cat flu and enteritis injections may be started in a kitten from 8 weeks of age – the exact vaccination regime will depend on the make of vaccine. Booster shots are then given regularly on the vet’s advice, usually annually. Your vet will advise on feline leukaemia vaccine. The RSPCA believes that all cats and kittens should be vaccinated against these highly contagious and life-threatening diseases.
Your rabbit should be vaccinated routinely against viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) and myxomatosis. Both these diseases can be rapidly fatal in an unvaccinated rabbit and there are no cures once infected.
Myxomatosis vaccination can be given as early as 6 weeks old and VHD vaccination from 8 weeks onwards. Both vaccines cannot be given at the same time – a minimum 14-day interval is recommended between the two injections. The vaccines will require regular boosters – your vet will advise on the optimum booster intervals.
Ferrets are susceptible to canine distemper and ferret owners should consider getting their pet vaccinated against it. In the UK, a ferret licensed vaccine does not exist, but ferrets can be inoculated with a canine distemper vaccine. Ask your veterinary surgeon for advice.