To help you understand why it’s important to get your pet vaccinated, how vaccinations work and the types of vaccines your cat or dog may need, we’ve compiled the following guide
While nobody likes to think about a beloved pet becoming ill, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that diseases affect animals as well as humans.
Many of the conditions affecting cats and dogs are common, and can be dangerous unless the right precautions have been taken.
Thankfully, advances in animal medicine mean that getting your pet vaccinated from the majority of common diseases is easy and inexpensive.
Since these vaccinations are affordable and widely available, there’s no excuse not to protect your pet with them – indeed, if you have pet insurance, your insurer will probably require your animal’s vaccinations to be up to date in order for your policy to remain valid.
Insurance policies don’t cover the cost of vaccinations, so you’ll have to pay for them yourself. However, the right insurance policy will help you to pay for a wide range of veterinary care, ensuring that your animal is well looked after in the event of an accident or illness.
To help you understand why it’s important to get your pet vaccinated, how vaccinations work and the types of vaccines your cat or dog may need, we’ve compiled the following guide.
How do pet vaccinations work?
As with human vaccinations, pet vaccinations involve administering your animal with a tiny amount of the disease that they will be protected against.
By injecting a small, manageable dose of the foreign substance into your pet's body, their immune system will learn to recognise the threat and create antibodies to fight it, protecting them against the disease in the future.
While vaccinations aren’t 100% effective at protecting animals from diseases, they do work in the vast majority of cases, and therefore play an important role in taking care of pets such as cats and dogs. Most vaccinations are administered as injections, although some may come in a different form, such as nasal drops for kennel cough in dogs.
Since vaccinations involve giving your pet a small amount of a virus or bacteria, it’s normal for them to experience mild symptoms such as local swelling, lethargy or loss of appetite. Most animals recover quickly and return to their old selves.
However, if your animal experiences more serious side effects like persistent vomiting, severe coughing or collapsing, contact your vet immediately – they may be having an allergic reaction to the vaccination, which can be life-threatening without appropriate medical attention. If your pet is currently showing signs of illness, wait for them to fully recover before taking them to be vaccinated.
When does my pet need to be vaccinated?
The timing and frequency of vaccinations tend to vary depending on the animal. Puppies are usually inoculated in two stages, at around eight and ten weeks of age. For kittens, vaccination usually occurs at nine and twelve weeks.
As well as these initial vaccinations, both dogs and cats should receive boosters to keep their immune systems strong and protect common them from diseases.
For example, dogs often receive their first booster shot one year on from their first injections, with further core vaccines given once every three years after that. To keep track of when your pet needs vaccinating, ask your vet to send you reminders. Arranging an annual health check will also ensure that their vaccinations are up to date.
Vaccinations if you're taking your pet abroad
Your pet may need extra vaccinations if they are going abroad.
These will range from country to country, so tell your vet if you plan on bringing your animal on holiday with you and they will be able to advise on whether they need to be vaccinated or not. All dogs need to be vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before going abroad, so make sure that any pre-travel checks with your vet take place a minimum of three weeks before your holiday.
Vaccinations for dogs
Our canine chums can be susceptible to a range of potentially life-threatening diseases, so it’s incredibly important to ensure that your pooch is vaccinated to reduce the risk of them becoming ill.
Common diseases for dogs include:
- Distemper, a common and infectious viral disease that can result in long-term neurological damage
- Parvovirus, a highly contagious infection of intestinal cells that’s particularly dangerous for young puppies
- Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection spread through urine that affects the kidneys and other vital organs
- Kennel cough, a treatable but unpleasant respiratory disease that spreads quickly in places where dogs congregate, such as kennels and doggy daycare facilities.
Arranging regular health checks and vaccinations for your dog will help them to avoid diseases like these, as well as maintaining the validity of your pet insurance.
Vaccinations for cats
Although their independent spirits make them unique and charismatic animals, cats are likely to explore places that put them at risk of contracting feline diseases.
Common diseases for cats include:
- Feline leukaemia, a retrovirus that can lead to fatal diseases including cancer
- Enteritis, a highly infectious viral disease that can quickly become fatal
- Cat flu, a disease with similar symptoms to human flu that can be life-threatening for kitten and older cats.
Vaccinations help to reduce the risk these diseases, protecting your cat on their daily adventures and keeping your pet insurance valid.