Vaccination is one of the most common veterinary procedures undertaken in small animal practice. Vaccinating your pets against preventable diseases is a key component of responsible pet ownership as it helps reduce the risk of them becoming unwell from some severe, life-threatening diseases.

Before the introduction of routine vaccinations in the early 1960s, veterinarians regularly treated canine distemper, an often-fatal disease. Now it’s virtually unheard of in Australia. In contrast, veterinarians still encounter canine parvovirus, particularly in puppies and elderly dogs. Outbreaks still occur in neighbourhoods where vaccination prevalence is low. Treating a puppy with parvovirus is an intensive process and can cost upwards of multiple thousands of dollars in supportive care with a high risk your puppy may still pass away. This is why vaccination is not only in the best interest of your pet’s health but also will help save you financially and emotionally from having to face this terrible disease.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) releases guidelines regarding the use of vaccinations. Vaccinations are split into two separate groups; core vaccines and non-core vaccines.

Core vaccines should be administered to all animals to protect them against severe, life-threatening disease that have a global distribution. These include:

Dogs

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine adenovirus (hepatitis)
  • Canine parvovirus

Cats

  • Feline parvovirus (panleukopaenia or infectious enteritis)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline herpesvirus (viral rhinotracheitis)

Non-core vaccines are required by animals whose geographic location; local environment or lifestyle places them at risk of contracting specific infections. These include:

Dogs

  • Parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica (Canine Kennel Cough)
  • Leptospira interrogans (leptospirosis)

Cats

  • Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
  • Chlamydia felis
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

All puppies and kittens should be vaccinated with an initial course against all core diseases listed above. These are routinely given in 3 separate boosters at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16 weeks.

Rabbits

Rabbits require vaccinations against Calicivirus. Calicivirus is an infectious disease that leads to death in unvaccinated rabbits. It is mostly transmitted via contact with infected rabbits and vectors such as flies and mosquitoes, but can also be spread via contact with contaminated hay / bedding or clothing. Our clinic follows WSAVA guidelines and recommends the following vaccination protocols to help protect your rabbit against calicivirus:

Kittens (Baby rabbits): 3 separate vaccinations given at 4,8 and 12 weeks of age, then every 6 months for life

Adults (who have not been previously vaccinated): 2 vaccinations 1 month apart, then every 6 months for life.

More information about Calicivirus and the release of new strains can be found here.

Ferrets

Ferrets require vaccination against Canine Distemper. Canine Distemper is an infectious disease that leads to death in ferrets. It is mostly transmitted via exposure to the airborne virus or contact with the bodily fluids of another infected individual, but can also be spread by contact with shoes and clothing, cages and/or bedding.

Our clinic recommends annual vaccinations for ferrets to protect them against Canine Distemper Virus.