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Some dangerous diseases that can infect our pets can be prevented

There are several, preventable, dangerous diseases that can infect our pets and most of them can be fatal. All of them may cause great suffering and can result in permanent health problems or even death. Due to widespread vaccination, outbreaks of these diseases are now seen less frequently but the diseases have not died out. Whereas it is true that a pet's immunity to a disease may last beyond the recommended booster date, there is no quick and easy way to monitor that immunity. NOT vaccinating regularly is NOT a serious option.

To save money on the costs of vaccinations, see our Pet Health Club page.


The sooner you start vaccinating your puppy, the better, because the earlier they can go out safely to socialise with people and other dogs, the easier they'll be to train later on. The first vaccination is also an important chance for us to examine your new puppy to check for any defects or problems that could affect his/her health in the future.

We strongly recommend that all puppies are vaccinated against a combination of:

  • Distemper (Hardpad)
  • Parvo virus
  • Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis

Vaccination consists of a course of 2 injections. The first can be given from 8 weeks of age. The second is given 4 weeks later, when the puppy is at least 10 weeks old.

Vaccination consists of a course of 2 injections. The first can be given from 8 weeks of age. The second is given 2-3 weeks later, when the puppy is at least 10 weeks old. We recommend that Rottweilers and Dobermans have an extra Parvo Virus vaccination at 20 weeks of age.

Once the puppy has received both injections, he/she should be confined at home for at least 14 days to give the vaccine time to work. Unvaccinated puppies should be kept away from other unvaccinated dogs as much as possible. Adult dogs in the same household are unlikely to be a source of infection, provided they are up to date with their vaccinations, but even they should be kept away from strange dogs to avoid bringing infections home.

Dogs of all ages need an annual booster vaccination to keep their protection up to full strength. The annual booster is a good chance for us to give your dog a thorough check-up, often we can spot and prevent problems before they become serious.

Kennel Cough Vaccination

Kennel Cough is not one disease, it embodies a large number of different infections which all cause very similar symptoms. Typical Kennel Cough causes a dry, hacking cough which is made worse by excitement. The most common cause of Kennel Cough is a bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica. Many boarding kennels require vaccination against Kennel Cough before they will accept a dog for boarding.

Dogs are routinely vaccinated against Kennel Cough using Nobivac, which is applied as nose drops rather than as a conventional injection. Kennel Cough protects against Bordetella bronchispetica and Parainfluenza virus only.

Dogs should be vaccinated at least 3 weeks before they are due in kennels. A Kennel Cough vaccination lasts for 1 year.

If there is a member of your household that is clinically immunosuppressed we would recommend postponing the kennel cough vaccination until they have checked its safety with their own doctor. Pets will shed an element of the vaccine for up to 6 weeks after being given it. This is only a concern if someone’s immune system is significantly compromised.


Most kittens are routinely vaccinated against Cat Flu and Feline Enteritis. Vaccination against these diseases is usually a minimum requirement for any cat about to enter a cattery.

Cat Flu is not one disease but two: Feline Viral Rhinitis and Feline Calici Virus. Both viruses cause severe cold-like symptoms. Cats that contract Cat Flu are often quite ill, but few die of it. Cat Flu is a significant problem because it is very common and very infectious.

Feline Enteritis is much less common than Cat Flu, however it is a severe and frequently fatal infection that can affect cats of all ages, particularly kittens.

Both diseases can be prevented by an initial course of two injections followed by regular yearly boosters. Kittens can have their first injection from 9 weeks of age. The second injection is given 3 to 4 weeks later. It takes about 7 days for the vaccine to work, therefore kittens must be kept indoors, away from other cats for that time.

An annual booster injection is essential to keep your cat's immunity up to scratch. A recent survey in Britain revealed that nearly 25% of ill cats and 10% of apparently healthy cats were infected with the Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV).

FeLV causes a number of disease problems in pet cats:

  • Leukaemia
  • Malignant tumours
  • Anaemia
  • Immuno-suppression

Feline Leukaemia is a difficult disease to diagnose because many infected cats will appear healthy for several years before they become ill. During this time, these cats are infectious to other cats and the infection may spread rapidly through a neighbourhood or household. FeLV is not transmittible to humans. FeLV infection has no treatment and is eventually fatal.

We can test for FeLV via blood test, which can be performed rapidly and is extremely accurate. The results are usually available within 24 hours.

Although FeLV is incurable, it is preventable by vaccination. Cats of all ages can be vaccinated against FeLV. The vaccine will not harm cats that have already contracted the infection, but it will not cure them or prevent the eventual onset of the disease. Therefore, we strongly recommend that cats are blood-tested before vaccination, especially adult cats of unknown medical history.



Myxomatosis has been present in wild rabbits for many years, but it is now becoming much more common in pet rabbits. The virus that causes it is spread by the rabbit flea and other biting insects; pet rabbits don't have to come into direct contact with wild rabbits in order to become infected.

The disease is mainly seen in the summer and early autumn when the weather is warm enough for the insects that spread it to be active.

The symptoms of Myxomatosis are characteristic: a snuffly nose and runny eyes change over the course of a few days into severe breathing problems and swelling of the head and genitals. The disease is incurable even if it is diagnosed very early. Most rabbits that become infected are humanely destroyed to prevent unnecessary suffering.

Myxomatosis is preventable ... by vaccination. Rabbits from 6 weeks of age may be vaccinated, this lasts for 12 months.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease of Rabbits

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a rapidly fatal infection that affects all rabbits over weaning age. It was first introduced into the UK in 1993 and since then it has spread throughout the country. The most common symptoms are a high temperature, not eating, collapse and bleeding from body openings. Death is inevitable and usually occurs within 12 hours.

A second strain of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease was recently identified.

There is no treatment, the only protection is vaccination. All types of rabbits over 8 weeks of age, except pregnant does, can be vaccinated. An initial vaccination is followed by a booster, once a year.

Vaccinations against rabbit diseases

We use a combination vaccine against Myxomatosis and both strains of the Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. This single vaccination should be given at 8 weeks and repeated every 12 months.

If vaccinations are being started in an older rabbit, or if we are wanting to vaccinate at 6 weeks due to high risk of myxomatosis, a second vaccine will be needed 2 weeks later for the remaining Viral Haemorrhagic strain. Annual vaccinations can then be continued with just the single combined injection.


Immunity following the first vaccination does not last for life. Re-vaccination is vital.

A small number of animals may fail to respond to vaccination.

Occasional hypersensitivity reactions may occur. If your pet becomes ill soon after vaccination, seek immediate veterinary advice.

Some pets may feel 'off colour' for a day or two, 2-3 days after vaccination and a few animals may show some mild reaction at the site of the injection. If such signs are severe or prolonged, let us know.