The importance of vaccinating your pets
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