Vaccinations & Worming

All your pets need regular vaccinations and worming to keep them in a healthy condition. Call us or come into the surgery to talk about your pets needs.

Vaccination - Dogs

Vaccination has been a topic of debate in the veterinary world & the media over the past few years. It is the frequency of vaccination that has been the issue. Some recent research indicates that the vaccination interval for some vaccinations of adult dogs (>2 years of age) may be able to be extended beyond 12 months & could be 3 years or longer for most dogs. In 2010 Pfizer Animal Health conducted some research in Australia in which DRVC was part of the initial study group. This was important as most of the other research has been done in Europe or the USA & not always in "real life" situations. Some veterinary surgeons who were in practice during the parvovirus epidemics of the 1980's are understandably nervous about the long term general dog population immunity levels lowering to a point where the threat of outbreaks may again occur. On the flip side we will occasionally see an adverse reaction that may be due to vaccination that can be life threatening (for eg. immune mediated haemolytic anaemia). Though the incidence of vaccination reactions is extremely low it makes sense to only vaccinate dogs if they need a booster for the so-called "core" vaccines of Distemper, Infectious Hepatitis & Parvovirus. The Australian Veterinary Association recommends a vaccination interval suited to the individual need of the animal in conjunction with advice from the consulting veterinary surgeon.

Depending on what your dog does & where it goes will depend on the frequency of vaccination that we will advise. If your dog regularly goes to a boarding kennel or mixes with other dogs where the vaccination status is unknown (eg. off lead dog parks) then we may still advise yearly vaccination of the core vaccines as well as other vaccinations like canine cough / corona virus / leptospirosis. If your dog is mainly indoors & doesn't socialize with other unknown dogs much & never goes to a boarding kennel then we may advise "core" vaccination only every 3 years (but we may still advise yearly canine cough boosters).  

It is still imperative that puppies have a full course of 2 or preferably 3 "core" vaccines then a booster 1 year later. Ironically, most vaccination reactions occur in puppies rather than adult dogs & usually show symptoms like facial swelling, itchiness & lumps over the body generally. Some puppies will get quite lethargic after vaccination or go off their food for a day or 2 & others may show some pain at the injection site.

It is advisable to vaccinate adult dogs annually vs canine cough (a very contagious disease).  If you live in the Dandenong Ranges we may also advise vaccination annually with a coronavirus / leptospirosis vaccine.  This is especially relevant if dogs have access to stagnant water or if you have chickens or store feed that may attract rodents like rats, mice & the native Australain antichinus (marsupial mouse). Rodents are an intermediate host in the transmission of leptospirosis - an organism that can cause fatal liver & kidney failure or clotting disorders. It is a zoonotic disease which can affect people & other species apart from dogs. It is usually contracted by contact with rat urine, ingestion of rat carcasses or rat bites. Victoria has the highest incidence of leptospirosis in Australia. Canine (kennel) cough is the most common clinical disease that we see in practice of all the diseases that vaccinations cover. It is highly contagious between dogs, particularly those in close confinement. It can travel on the wind & survive in dog sputum for a long period. The period from infection to symptoms showing is usually 3-5 days. A dog infected or carrying canine cough could go into a boarding kennel without symptoms for a weekend & infect every dog without anyone knowing. 

Vaccination - Cats

There was some research to indicate that the vaccination interval for adult cats (>2 years of age) may be able to be extended to more than 12 months too. The current research & general consensus amongst researchers of the immunology of cats has shown that there are inadequate levels of protection in too many cats vs feline herpes virus (a virus that causes cat flu) beyond 12 months. This was especially true in shelter, pound or breeder cats. So, the historically advised interval of yearly vaccinations vs the 3 "core" cat viruses (caliciviris, rhinotracheitis virus & herpes virus) remains current. ​We may sometimes advise a less frequent interval of "core" vaccination for old cats that may have some health issues that are indoor cats.

If your cat spends time outside & is likely to come in close contact with other cats or fight with them then we advise annual vaccination vs Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Vaccination annually against Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) may also be considered. The incidence of FIV is very high in Victoria. As many as 1 in 4 cats may be infected with the virus. It causes suppression of the immune system & can lead to kidney failure, recurrent bouts of "cat flu" & amplification of infections or other diseases. The incidence of FeLV is very low in Victoria but it can be lethal esp. if contracted as a kitten.

Heartworm

Heartworm affects dogs mostly & to a lesser extent cats. It is transmitted by mosquito bites. It is particularly relevant to treat against heartworm disease in the northern states of Australia but there are pockets of heartworm disease reported frequently in Victoria. We advise using heartworm prevention on dogs as we have had heartworm positive dogs in our practice. Prevention is available as a monthly tablet or chew, yearly injection or monthly skin spot-on. Puppies should commence heartworm prevention at 6 months of age.

Intestinal Worms

All puppies & kittens should be wormed weekly with a roundworm & hookworm control product until weaned then every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old. After this they should be treated with an allwormer (roundworm, hook worm, tapeworm including hydatid & whip worms in dogs) every month until they are 6 months old then every 3 months for the rest of their life. Some intestinal worming products can be combined with heartworm prevention &/or flea control. If your pet lives in a household with young children we advise worming your pet every month from 12 weeks of age onwards.