shutterstock_169168619Vaccinating your dog, cat or rabbit is one of the most important things you can do to care for your pet. By giving annual vaccinations your pet can be protected against some very serious and life threatening diseases.

Many of these diseases are still prevalent in this area, so without keeping your animal up to date with its vaccinations you could be putting them at risk.

The following information relates to dogs and cats, please refer to the rabbit link for more information on rabbit vaccines.


When should I vaccinate?

  • Puppies can be given their first vaccine from 6 weeks of age. They must then receive a second vaccine 2-4 weeks later. The second vaccine must be given at a minimum of 10 weeks of age
  • Kittens can be given their first vaccine from 9 weeks of age. A second vaccine is then given 3-5 weeks later.

How soon after the vaccine is my puppy/kitten protected?

  • Full immunity should be reached 2 weeks after the second vaccination. We would recommend not taking your puppy for walks until after this time. Kittens will also be protected from 2 weeks after the second injection but we advise to keep kittens indoors until they are a bit older. Refer to the kitten care page for more information.

How often should the vaccine be repeated?

  • The vaccine requires a booster injection every 12 months to maintain adequate levels of immunity.

What if I haven’t kept up to date with the vaccinations?

  • If your dog/cat has not received a vaccine for over 18 months then we will advise that the vaccine course should be started again as described above for puppies and kittens. This will ensure that your dog/cat is fully protected.

Will the vaccine make my pet unwell?

  • Puppies/kittens may be a bit quiet for 24 hours following vaccination but should not appear unwell. They may show signs of irritation at the vaccine site and this area may be a bit sore for a day or two, don’t worry this is normal. More serious vaccine reactions are rare but if your pet does show signs of illness following vaccination then please call the practice for advice.

Please note: your pet will receive a full health check at time of vaccination. If there any signs of illness at this time then the vet may advise you that vaccination should be delayed until your pet is well again. This is important as vaccinating your pet whilst it is unwell may slow their recovery but also may mean the vaccine doesn’t work properly.

Dogs – What do we vaccinate against?

Canine Parvovirus

  • Highly contagious disease seen mostly in puppies but can infect older dogs
  • Causes fever, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea often with blood
  • Very serious and often fatal despite treatment
  • Still common in the UK and seen in this area

Parvovirus can and does kill – we still see parvovirus cases in our hospital and it is not uncommon that despite intensive treatment and 24 hour care these dogs do not recover and either die or are euthanased.  Vaccination can prevent this horrible disease so please ensure that your dog is fully vaccinated.

Canine Distemper

  • Causes discharges from the eyes and nose, coughing, breathing difficulties, vomiting and diarrhoea. Some dogs may show neurological signs also
  •  Often fatal
  • Less common in the UK now thanks to vaccination


  • Causes liver and kidney damage
  • Disease caused by a type of bacteria which is excreted in the urine. Contact with infected urine and open wounds or through ingestion of infected food/soil/water can allow spread of the disease.
  •  Treatment can often be long and intensive and unfortunately in many cases the disease is fatal.
  • Leptospirosis can infect humans

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

  • Causes Liver failure
  • Often fatal

Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)

  • Very common and highly contagious
  • Combined viral and bacterial infection
  • Causes dry, hacking cough
  • Vaccination is given as a liquid adminstered up the nose
  • Vaccination is often required by boarding kennels

Cats – What do we vaccinate against?

There are 3 types of vaccine available for cats which offer varying levels of protection.

Cat Flu

  • Causes sneezing, lethargy, discharges from the eyes and nose, breathing difficulties, can progress to pneumonia in severe cases
  • Symptoms usually worse in kittens and eldery cats and can occasionally be fatal
  • Cats can recover with appropriate treatment but this may take several weeks and the cat may be suffer with chronic illnesses such as bronchitis and rhinitis.

Feline Infectious Enteritis (Feline Parvovirus)

  • Causes severe diarrhoea and can be rapidly fatal in kittens.
  • Infection during pregnancy can cause brain damage to the kittens

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

  • Still common in the UK
  • No effective treatment or cure
  • Reduces the immune system so cats with FeLV are more prone to infections. There are also prone to developing cancers.
  • Can be fatal
  • Any infected cat can spread the disease to a healthy cat usually through the saliva but also through contact with urine, faeces and milk.


  • Bacterial disease affecting the eyes and upper airways
  • Often required prolonged treatment with antibiotics
  • Vaccination particularly important in households with multiple cats or in breeding colonies
Pool House Vets