Vaccinating your pet

Vaccinating your pet has many benefits and keeps your pet safe from potentially fatal diseases. Find out the benefits of getting them vaccinated.

Nurse caring for tabby kitten

Vaccinations are an essential part of responsible pet care, but many owners aren’t fully aware of the benefits of vaccinating their pet or the risks of not doing so.

Many owners also don’t realise that vaccinations aren’t a one-time event, or they believe the initial set of vaccines are enough for life-long protection.  Unfortunately this isn't the case and boosters are required to keep your pet protected from potentially fatal diseases, with the first set being the most important for protecting your pet.

What are vaccinations?

Thanks to increased vaccinnation, diseases with devastating effects such as distemper, cat flu and hepatitis have become much less common in pets.

Vaccinations trigger immune responses in your pets and prepare their immune systems to fight future diseases. The type of vaccination your pet receives depends on whether it’s a ‘core’ or ‘non-core’ vaccine, and whether your pet’s risk of exposure to a disease requires it.

Types of pet vaccinations

‘Core’ vaccinations

These are vaccinations that every pet should receive, these protect against dangerous diseases including parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper and leptospirosis in dogs, and feline enteritis and cat flu in cats.

'Non-core' vaccinations

‘Non-core’ vaccinations are used to protect from disease where the animal’s geographical location, lifestyle or environment puts them at higher risk. These include kennel cough, rabies and leishmania.

Why you should vaccinate your pet

Vaccinating your pet has many benefits:

It could save your pet’s life

If a pet isn’t vaccinated, their life is at risk from infectious diseases. Without vaccinations, life-threatening diseases would still be as prevalent today as they were 100 years ago. It’s also important to remember that not all diseases are transmitted through contact with other animals.  Some may be carried on clothing and shoes, and some may be airborne.

It benefits the community

As well as protecting your own pet from harmful disease, vaccination also contributes to the overall number of protected pets in the community. If every pet owner took responsibility for vaccinating their pets, it could potentially lead to diseases being eradicated entirely from the community, as there would be very few unprotected pets to carry the disease This is called ‘herd immunity’.

Prevention is better than cure

Many of the diseases we vaccinate against are incurable or incredibly difficult to treat, so preventing them in the first place is not only effective, but it’s also the best way to ensure your pet stays safe.

It’s cost-efficient

The financial cost of treating these diseases can quickly add up, and far outweigh the cost of regular vaccinations. Annual booster vaccinations are included in our Medivet Healthcare Plan, making them even more manageable for owners.

It’s highly effective

Thanks to ongoing research and development, today’s vaccines are highly efficient and effective. When combined with regular boosters, vaccinations can provide long-lasting protection for pets, helping them lead safe, healthy lives.

It protects pet owners too

Some of the diseases we protect against with vaccinations are known as ‘zoonotic’, meaning they can infect both humans and animals. The most common of these are leptospirosis and rabies. By ensuring your pet is properly protected, you’ll help keep you and your family safe from these diseases.

It protects the next generation

Some diseases can be passed on to your pet’s offspring, often with fatal consequences. For example, cat flu can be life-threatening in young kittens; even if they survive, they often become carriers and can have long term health issues. Adult cats with long term cat flu are usually the source of infection in kittens.

Your tailored vaccine regime

At your annual booster vaccination appointment, your vet will be able to assess which vaccines your pet needs for that year. The immunity provided by some vaccines can last up to three years, whereas others need topping up every 12 months, so your pet won’t require the same vaccinations every year.

Your vet will also discuss your pet’s lifestyle and tailor their vaccination schedule to suit their individual needs and environment.

Vaccinations FAQs

Does my pet need vaccinations every year?

Evidence suggests that the majority of dogs are protected against viral distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus for three years after their primary course of vaccinations. This same evidence exists for leukaemia in cats too, so we use vaccines that allow for longer periods between boosters without compromising protection.

However, vaccines for leptospirosis in dogs and panleukopenia in cats don’t last much longer than 12 months, so annual boosters are still recommended.

You’ll notice on your vaccination card that your pet may not always have the same vaccines every year. Our vets are more than happy to answer any questions about which boosters your pet may need.

Does my pet still need vaccinating if they live indoors?

It’s impossible to fully protect your pet from diseases, even if they spend the majority of their time indoors. Diseases can easily be carried inside on your shoes or clothes, and by other pets entering the home.

Vaccinations are also imperative if you put your pet into a kennel or cattery, as these visits expose them to other animals.

Are there safe alternatives to vaccinations?

In reality, there’s no alternative to vaccinations that can protect your pet against disease. Even if you keep your pet completely isolated from other animals, some infections can enter the household on clothing, shoes and hands, and other diseases can be transmitted by flying insects.

Using blood testing to check your pet’s level of immunity each year after their initial vaccinations helps reduce the number of vaccinations needed. Known as vaccicheck, this testing also means your vet can prescribe a tailored booster schedule to suit your pet’s needs. However, some vaccinations can’t be tested for in this way, so annual vaccination is still necessary.

Do vaccines cause side effects?

It’s incredibly rare for a vaccination to be associated with severe side effects.

Will over-vaccination cause disease?

There’s absolutely no evidence that supports the theory that over-vaccinating pets results in negative effects, and this view isn’t supported by the vast majority of veterinary professionals.

Vaccines go through rigorous trials before being licensed for use, and a robust reporting process exists to track any possible adverse reaction. This is then investigated and recorded to ensure pet vaccinations are completely safe and effective for long-term protection.

We offer immunity testing to ensure we only give your pet the vaccines they need; this blood test is called vaccicheck. Please ask your vet if you’d like to know more about this service.

For more information regarding your pet’s vaccinations, or to book an appointment, contact your local Medivet practice.

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