Vaccinations – what they cover, when to do them, and why they’re so important!

Vaccinations – what they cover, when to do them, and why they’re so important!

Vaccinations (or immunisations) are an integral part of your pet’s life. They play an important role in protecting your pet from a variety of diseases, as well as ensuring they are regularly checked by the veterinarian.

Here at the Ark Veterinary Hospital, we have a vaccination schedule for each species to ensure full and ongoing protection!

Vaccinations for dogs

Vaccinations for dogs

There are 5 different diseases that dogs are vaccinated against:

  • Parvo Virus
    A highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system of dogs. It is very common in unvaccinated puppies and can be fatal. It is spread through the faeces of infected dogs.
  • Distemper Virus
    A contagious virus that is spread through direct contact with infected urine, faeces or saliva. It effects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system of a dog and can too be fatal.
  • Hepatitis
    There are two strains of Hepatits: one that effects the liver, and the other which is related to Kennel Cough and can have a systemic effect (whole body). It is spread through infected urine, faeces and saliva.

These 3 disease above make up a C3 vaccination.

  • Kennel cough
    There are 2 strains of Kennel Cough that effect dogs:
  1. Parainfluenza
  2. Bordatella Virus

Both of these strains cause flu like symptoms – sneezing, coughing, runny eyes – and so are spread through air bourne contact and saliva. It is a very common disease and very contagious. Although generally mild, it can lead to more severe issues like pneumonia in older dogs if not treated correctly.

The 2 strains of kennel cough make up the second vaccination, which when combined with a C3 (above) creates a C5

Vaccination schedule for Dogs

Puppies receive 3 sets of vaccinations:

  • 6-8 weeks of age: C3 vaccination
  • 10-12 weeks of age: C5 vaccination
  • 14-16 weeks of age: C5 vaccination

Once the puppy vaccinations are completed, a booster shot is not given for another 12 months (when the dog in roughly 1y 4m old). They then receive what is called a triennial C5, meaning the C3 part of the vaccination is only given every 3 years, but the Kennel Cough must be given every 12 months.


Vaccinations for cats

6 diseases that your cat can be vaccinated against:

  • “Cat Flu” or feline upper respiratory tract infection is a combination of two viruses
  1. Feline herpes virus (or rhinotracteitis) – a very common infection that causes sneezing, water eyes and congestion. This is a contagious disease that is spread not only through infected saliva and discharge, but through faeces and urine. Although generally mild, in some cases it can progress to secondary infections that can be very serious.
  2. Feline calicivirus – similar to the herpes virus, the calicivirus attacks the respiratory system of cats and is often seen in young kittens. This virus can also cause painful mouth ulcers, and is spread through saliva and nasal discharge.
  • Feline Enteritis (or feline parvovirus) – a very serious disease that is often fatal once contracted. It attacks the gastrointestinal system, causing bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. This virus is spread mainly through infected bodily fluids.
  • Feline chlamydia – a bacterial infection that attacks the upper respiratory system. It can cause sneezing, nasal and eye discharge and congestion. Secondary infections are common if not treated appropriately.

These 4 diseases above make up what is referred to as an F4 vaccination.

There are 2 further diseases cats can be vaccinated against. These vaccinations are separate to each other:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus – this disease seriously affects the cats immune system, leaving them open and more prone to secondary infections. Commonly spread through cat fights and bite wounds, it can also spread through saliva in food bowls. Infected cats remain this way throughout their life and the disease can cause major complications.
  • Feline Immuno-Deficiency Virus (FIV) – Feline AIDs causes severe weakening to infected cats immune system. This vaccination is most beneficial to cats who are mainly outdoors and interact with other cats as it is also commonly spread through fight wounds.
vaccinations for cats

Vaccination schedule for cats

Similar to puppies, kittens also have 3 vaccination boosters to provide protection against these diseases:

  • 6-8 weeks: F4 vaccination
  • 10-12 weeks: F4 vaccination
  • 14-16 weeks: F4 vaccination

12 months after their final kitten shot, they receive their first adult vaccination (F4) and these are done every year after that. The Leukemia and AIDs vaccinations are annual as well.

Vaccinations for rabbits

There is only one vaccination available for pet rabbits, and is protects against the Calicivirus (or Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease). This a debilitating disease causing bloody diarrhoea, fever and abdominal bloating. It is very contagious, spread through saliva and mosquitoes.

Councils often release this virus into the wild rabbit population to control numbers so it is important to regularly vaccinate! One shot is administered at 10-12 weeks of age, and boosters are given every 6 months to maintain protection.

Why are vaccinations so important?

As you’ve read above, there are many serious and potentially fatal diseases that can effect your pet. These diseases can often cause secondary infections, creating complications in recovery. The best and most efficient way to protect your pet from disease is through regular vaccination.

Here at the Ark Veterinary Hospital, we are providing regular reminders to ensure your pet is fully protected. Take the fuss out of caring for your pet and be able to keep track of where they are at!