The im­por­tance of vac­ci­nat­ing your pets

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY -

Jackie Sharp

One of the sad­dest things is wit­ness­ing the joy and de­light of a new puppy or kit­ten turn to sor­row when, a few days af­ter it went to its new home; it suc­cumbs to a hor­ri­ble dis­ease like par­vovirus, dis­tem­per or snuf­fles. These dis­eases are pre­ventable with cor­rect vac­ci­na­tion

Very few of South African pet own­ers have their pets vac­ci­nated on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Less than 15% of dog own­ers and less than 10% of cat own­ers vac­ci­nate an­nu­ally. This means that every year a num­ber of an­i­mals (and even peo­ple in the case of ra­bies) die.

Pup­pies should be vac­ci­nated from six weeks of age against dis­tem­per, par­vovirus, hep­ati­tis virus, Adeno virus and Parain­fluenza virus (5-in-1 vac­cine). Af­ter this they will need a booster vac­ci­na­tion in three to four weeks, with another booster fol­low­ing three to four weeks later.

Of these viruses, par­vovirus and dis­tem­per are the two more com­mon.

Par­vovirus (or cat­flu) can af­fects dogs in two ways: heart fail­ure (nor­mally in young pups) and se­vere gas­tro-en­teri­tis. With­out treat­ment this dis­ease kills pup­pies quickly. The virus also stays alive for months.

Dis­tem­per is a deadly con­ta­gious virus, which at­tacks the ner­vous sys­tem. Symp­toms in­clude fever, cough, en­teri­tis, dis­charge from the eyes and nose, and of­ten ner­vous symp­toms. Dis­tem­per is usu­ally fa­tal.

In kit­tens, the ba­sic 3-in-1 vac­cine in­clude Pan­leukopae­nia, Rhino­tra­cheitis and Cali­civirus. They should be vac­ci­nated at eight weeks, with a booster vac­ci­na­tion four weeks later.

Ra­bies vac­ci­na­tions are only given with the booster vac­ci­na­tions af­ter 12 weeks of age, and fol­lowed by a booster vac­ci­na­tion. Ra­bies is fa­tal. It is car­ried via the bite of an in­fected an­i­mal or con­tact with the saliva. Symp­toms in­clude ex­ces­sive sali­va­tion, vi­o­lent be­hav­iour and, of­ten, fear of wa­ter.

Dr Jackie Sharp is from Sun­ninghill Vil­lage Vet Group

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