Vaccine frequency & annual health checks for your dog and cat

Vaccines are an area where there is a lot of ongoing debate both in human and veterinary health. No doubt you’ve heard the discussions and comments about possible reactions to vaccines. And you might have wondered about the optimal frequency of vaccines.

What makes matters even more confusing, is that although vaccines are constantly being updated and improved, not all vet practices are offering the latest vaccines and protocols can vary greatly.

At Vetaround we safely vaccinate hundreds of animals every year and we strongly believe the protection vaccines afford your pet far outweigh the very minimal chance of any negative side effects. We’ve thought long and hard about the best vaccines to use and the best frequency for our patients. Keep reading to find out how we approach vaccination.

This blog also chats about some exciting new developments in vaccines that further minimize any chance of your pet having adverse reaction.

 How do vaccines work?

Vaccines help prevent disease by introducing a weakened (known as a live “attenuated” vaccine) or killed form of disease-causing organisms into your pet, via injection, intranasally or in oral form.

Vaccines trigger an immune response in your pet, to “train” & “educate” the immune system. This helps prevent your pet from developing the disease if they are exposed to it in the future.

 Which vaccines do you use at Vetaround for cats?

The core vaccines we use for all kittens and cats is known as F3, which covers three diseases:

  • Feline panleukopenia (feline enteritis/feline parvovirus)
  • Feline herpes virus (cat flu)
  • Feline calicivirus (cat flu)

Initially this vaccine is given as a course of 4 shots over the first year of your cat’s life, at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, followed by a final booster at 6-15 months of age.

At Vetaround we prefer to use a live vaccine, which has the advantage of:

  • The highest level of immunity
  • Very low reaction rate
  • Long lasting. You only need to vaccinate every 3 years unless your cat needs to go into a cattery or has other higher risk concerns.

 Do I need to vaccinate my cat against chlamydia?

While many vet practices offer the F4 (which is F3 plus chlamydia) or the F5 (F4 plus FIV or FelV) instead of the F3, I advise my clients to avoid these vaccines because of the chlamydia element of these vaccines.

Vaccines that contain chlamydia typically cause unpleasant reactions in most cats (they go off colour and are inactive with little appetite for several days). If you also consider that the inferred immunity from a Chlamydia vaccine is not really very good AND that chlamydia is a readily treatable disease… you can see why we don’t routinely vaccinate against it at Vetaround.

If you are unsure whether you should vaccinate your cat against chlamydia, contact your mobile vet to discuss your cat’s vaccination requirements.

 Do I need to vaccinate my indoor cat?

There is a lot of misunderstanding about cats that are strictly indoors and whether they have to be vaccinated annually, less frequently or even at all, but at Vetaround we strongly believe your indoor cat should be assessed on a similar basis as outdoor cats and the minimum vaccine program will apply. That is, following the initial primary course, the vaccine would not need to be given more frequently than every 3 years.

Your indoor cat, while potentially less exposed to cat flu and enteritis, he or she is still at risk of both diseases (especially enteritis) because you can bring these diseases in from outside the home on your feet and clothes.

And your indoor cat often has a lower immunity than other outdoor cats because he won’t have built a natural immunity from exposure to the outdoor environment.

So at Vetaround we recommend to all of our clients that their cats follow the same vaccination program, whether they live indoors or outside. Each animal we see is assessed for the appropriate vaccination protocol on an individual basis so there will be some animals we recommend to do more frequently than every 3 years if we feel it is appropriate.

 What about Dog Vaccines?

At Vetaround we use a live C4 vaccine which includes:

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Hepatitis and
  • Parainfluenza

These vaccines are given by injection.

But protecting your dog against Bordetella, the bacterial element of kennel cough, has always been slightly trickier.

Until recently, the Bordetella vaccine was an intranasal vaccine, which to be honest, most dogs hated and it was very tricky to administer. Thankfully now, for the sake of your dog (and my sanity!), at Vetaround we now use a new vaccine, where the Bordetella part of the vaccine is administered orally, making the vaccine process quicker and totally stress-free for your dog.

The other advantage of this new vaccine is that the C4 part of the vaccine only needs to be given 3 yearly.

You will still need to see your vet annually so your dog can receive the oral Bordetella vaccine and he can have his annual health check-up.

 The importance of annual health checks

Early detection really is the key to your pet’s health because it means we can diagnose, treat or even prevent problems in your pet before they become life-threatening.

And because your pet ages much faster than you do, health changes in your pet will also happen much more quickly.

As your pet ages the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase, and because today’s pets are living longer than ever, chances are your cat or dog will experience a potentially serious illness during their lifetime.

Annual health checks are also a great opportunity to bring up any queries you may have about pet nutrition, pet behaviour and other issues. And if you intend to go on holidays and use a kennel or cattery you will need an annual certificate of vaccination for your pet.

At Vetaround, we understand that it’s not always possible for you and your pet to come to a vet surgery, which is why we come to you.

So whether your pet has been injured, is unwell, due for a vaccination or an annual health check, give our mobile vet a call and we will bring our Vetaround surgery to you.

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