Sherborne (01935 816228):

Weekday: 8:30am to 6:00pm | Saturday: Closed Sunday: Closed

Yeovil (01935 474415):

Weekday: 8:30am to 6:00pm (open until 8pm Tuesday & Thursday) | Saturday: 9am to 2pm | Sunday: 9am to 12pm

A vaccine amnesty – is it really necessary?

During the months of March and April we are running a vaccine amnesty for both dogs and cats at our Practices. This means for pets that for whatever reason are overdue a vaccination; we will restart their vaccinations for the price of a normal booster. This invariably raises a few questions on the fundamentals of vaccination itself.

During the months of March and April we are running a vaccine amnesty for both dogs and cats at our Practices. This means for pets that for whatever reason are overdue a vaccination; we will restart their vaccinations for the price of a normal booster. This invariably raises a few questions on the fundamentals of vaccination itself.

Why vaccinate? Unless properly vaccinated, your pet is at risk of contracting one of several, possibly fatal, infectious diseases. In dogs, Parvovirus and leptospirosis are the most current and widespread threats, depending on where you live. Both may prove fatal and Leptospirosis can present a serious risk to human health as well. The routine vaccination given to puppies will also protect against hepatitis and distemper, both very dangerous diseases. Cats are vaccinated against Leukaemia, Enteritis and Flu; all potentially fatal viruses.

Why are booster vaccinations required? When your pet was vaccinated as a puppy or kitten it was provided with immunity to these diseases. But this immunity doesn’t last indefinitely and can gradually fall, leaving your pet at risk. Their immunity therefore needs “topping up” at regular intervals. These intervals differ between diseases: for example, even the best vaccines for leptospirosis only protect for approximately thirteen months.

I’ve never vaccinated my pet? People who do not vaccinate are benefitting from the vast number of people that do vaccinate their pets, keeping diseases at low levels. Thirty years ago, pets would die on a weekly basis from Distemper or Leukaemia. Vaccination has reduced these diseases to such a low level that they are actually nowadays quite rare. If we stopped vaccinating our pets, these diseases would once again become commonplace. Compare this to say Small Pox in the human population which has been eradicated by a very effective and compulsory vaccination program.

Is vaccination harmful to my pet? No medicine is benign and there are always risks however, vaccinations go through rigorous trials to become licensed. Significant vaccination reactions are rare, certainly in my experience over many years. We do see localised vaccine reactions in the skin which present as a small nodule at the vaccine site, these seem more common in kittens and regress over a period of a couple of weeks and cause no harm or discomfort. Serious and significant reactions are thankfully extremely rare. In my opinion the risk of not vaccinating your pet far outweighs the risks of vaccination.

Why don’t we titre test and vaccinate as required? This is the source of a lot of discussion at present. It involves blood testing individual animals to assess their current level of immunity and individual need for vaccination. It currently cannot be run in-house and needs outsourcing to a laboratory adding time and of course, expense. Possibly more importantly is the fact that Leptospirosis, the only annual vaccination in dogs (Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus are given every three years at our practices) does not lend itself well to this process as despite being a very effective vaccine and producing good clinical protection, it produces a poor antibody response, which is what’s measured in the blood test. It is therefore difficult to gauge on an individual basis.

I vaccinate my own pets and my friends and families pets because I believe it is currently the safest, most effective way to protect our pets’ well-being.

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