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Canine Vaccination - FAQs

What diseases does canine vaccination protect against?

Our vaccines protect against canine parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and leptospirosis.  We also advise vaccination against kennel cough for most dogs.

What is Leptospirosis ?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection spread through the urine of infected rats, wildlife and dogs.  It causes kidney and liver disease and can eventually cause organ failure and death.

How could my dog become infected?

Dogs will typically come into contact with the bacteria in infected water, soil or mud or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal.  Dogs that frequent wooded areas or rivers, lakes and ponds where rats may be present are at increased risk.

What are the signs of Leptospirosis?

The signs can be fairly non-specific or mimic other disease but include lethargy, reduced appetite, high temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased drinking and jaundice.

Can Leptospirosis be treated?

Leptospirosis will often respond well to antibiotic treatment as long as it is diagnosed promptly and appropriate treatment given.  The disease is not always that easy to diagnose and multiple blood and urine samples may be required.  Infected animals will usually need to be hospitalised for treatment.

How can Leptospirosis be prevented?

Modern vaccines offer good protection but must be given annually.  Leptospirosis exists in different forms or strains in a similar fashion to human influenza.  New strains of leptospirosis have emerged in recent years in the UK and are now prevalent in continental Europe.  The older vaccines protected against two strains (L canicola and L interrogans) but do not protect against the newer strains of leptospirosis which have been implicated in disease outbreaks in dogs in the UK in recent years.  Therefore we have adopted a new vaccine (L4) which protects against four strains, covering both new and old strains.

This newer vaccine requires two injections to be given 4 weeks apart.

Is Leptospirosis dangerous to people?

Yes, Leptospirosis infects a wide range of species and is contagious to humans.  Infected dogs can pass the infection on to humans.  Frequently, the symptoms are mild in people and often resemble flu, however in approximately 10% of cases it can cause more serious disease and can even be fatal.

What happens when the annual booster is given?

At the time of your dog’s annual booster vaccination we will now include the L4 leptospirosis vaccine as well. Your dog will need a second injection of the L4 vaccine 4 weeks later in order to be fully protected if receiving the L4 vaccine for the first time.  We provide this additional vaccine free of charge.  Thereafter, a single annual booster is required to maintain protection.

What is the protocol for vaccinating puppies?

Most puppies will have three injections at 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age. Your puppy will receive the full vaccination including L4 vaccination at 8 weeks of age.  The second vaccination (parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis) will be given at 10 weeks of age (so not to affect the age of socialisation).  At 12 weeks old, your puppy will receive the second L4 vaccination and will be fully covered against Leptospirosis.  It is very important that puppies avoid high risk areas (e.g. standing water, areas known to have rats) until three weeks after the last injection. However, they can still be socialised from 11 weeks onwards so puppy parties etc. will not be affected.

Why is early socialisation important?

Puppies have a limited period at the start of their lives during which time they learn to accept things around them without being afraid.  This window of opportunity gradually closes by about the age of 16-17 weeks.  It is therefore important that puppies are carefully exposed to all of the situations that they are likely to encounter later in life.  Without this early experience, unfamiliar people, animals and situations are approached with increased caution and puppies may become fearful, which in turn may lead to aggression.

How long after the vaccination course until my puppy is protected against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis.

As long as your puppy is 10 weeks or older when it receives its DHP (distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus) injection, protection against these diseases will be present after 7 days.  Your puppy will be free to socialise with other vaccinated dogs but will need to avoid high risk areas for leptospirosis such as wooded areas or rivers, lakes and ponds where rats may be present.

How long after the vaccination course until my pet is protected against leptospirosis?

Full protection will take three weeks after the second L4 injection.  Thereafter, annual injections will be required to maintain immunity.

Are there any side effects to the vaccination?

As with most vaccines dogs can feel a little lethargic after receiving the injections.  It is not unusual for dogs to feel slightly under the weather after receiving their vaccinations so do not be alarmed if this happens for 2-3 days after the vaccine.  Any longer than this then please seek veterinary advice.  Sometimes a small swelling may be noticeable at the site of injection which will disappear over a few weeks.

If you have any further concerns or questions regarding vaccination, please contact your local branch to discuss with one of our vets or nurses.

What is Kennel Cough and how can it be prevented?

Kennel cough or infectious bronchitis is a highly infectious disease usually caused by a bacterium, called Bordetella
bronchiseptica, and Parainfluenza virus.

Our kennel cough vaccine is fully licensed to be given at the same time as the rest of our vaccine range.  The vaccine is given intranasally as this route provides the best protection and the onset of protection begins within three days after vaccination.

Vaccination is advised for all dogs that are likely to be socialising with other dogs and is an essential requirement for most kennels.

If you have any further concerns or questions regarding vaccination please contact your local branch to discuss with one of our vets or nurses.