An Albury-Wodonga Update on Vaccination and your Pets
With the growing concern of infectious disease, especially parvovirus in dogs in the Albury-Wodonga area, it is a good time to talk about pet vaccination. Part of owning a pet is the responsibility to maintain their preventative health care via vaccinations. As a young puppy or kitten, a course of vaccines is required to give them protection against potentially deadly diseases, including parvovirus and distemper. These initial vaccinations are time sensitive in that they need to be given after the first eight weeks of life and boostered at monthly intervals, for a further two injections. Prior to eight weeks, the puppy or kitten is protected from disease via their mother’s immunity which is passed on via her milk.
Vaccinations are recommended annually to maintain protective immunity throughout your pet’s life. They are also essential for entry into boarding kennels and participation at many puppy classes and kennel clubs. Vaccinations in breeding females should be kept up to date in order to pass this immunity onto their offspring.
There have been a couple of recent cases of gastrointestinal upset, diagnosed as parvovirus on in-house diagnostics, in fully vaccinated animals. One would assume that these animals would have been protected against this disease, but have still become ill, just not as severe as an unvaccinated animal would have. This suggests that the disease is changing and evolving over time and can still impact even vaccinated animals although with much reduced severity.
Specific testing is available to see if your animal has developed a level of protective immunity and thus does not require vaccination during that particular year’s annual check up. Called titer testing, it is conducted when there is a reasonable suspicion of adequate immunity after a consistent vaccination history over a number of years. If inadequate protection is identified, vaccinations are then given as required. The disadvantage with titre testing is that it is only measuring one of the many parts of immune defence required to insure protection against the disease.
It cannot be denied that the first line of defense against disease is regular vaccination. The outcome of disease in an unvaccinated pet could be deadly, whereas less severe and usually prevented, in vaccinated animals.
Written by Dr Caitlin Thomson