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Your other family doctor, listening to the needs of animals, large & small, across the Alpine region
7047 Great Alpine Rd, Porepunkah

Vaccinations

Vaccinations save lives.

One of the most important things a caring family can do for their pets is to have them vaccinated. A simple series of shots when an animal is young, followed by booster shots throughout the life of your pet, will provide protection against a range of serious diseases.

Some of these diseases are transmissible to other animals, and in some cases to people, so you are not only protecting your own furry family you are helping keep the incidence of infectious, life threatening disease outbreaks under control.

There are two types of vaccination used for animals: Core vaccines immunise your pets against the most serious, difficult to treat and transmissible diseases. They are essential. Non-core vaccines offer protection against milder diseases and/or against conditions which may affect animals in specific circumstances.

Core vaccines for dogs cover parvovirus, distemper and adenovirus. For cats the core vaccines protect against FPV (feline parvovirus), FHV (herpesvirus) and FCV (calcivirus).

In dogs, the non-core vaccines can provide protection against kennel cough (parainfluenza virus and Bordatella br. Bact), corona virus and leptospirosis.

Non-core vaccines for cats protect against FeLV (feline leukemia virus), FIV (feline immunodefficiency virus) and Chlamydophila felis.

The core vaccines are vital for the ongoing health of your pet. Ideally they should be administered to puppies and kittens in two shots, the first at 6 to 8 weeks of age, with a second, adult, shot at 10 to 12 weeks. These vaccinations ‘kickstart’ their immune systems but are short lived and need to be followed by a booster shot at one year old.

After that, your pet will need regular booster shots, usually every year, to ensure ongoing protection (see How often should I vaccinate?). If your pet was not vaccinated as a puppy or kitten they will still benefit from being vaccinated at any age.

The non-core vaccines are equally important to your pet’s health but not every pet will need or benefit from them. In some cases external issues will be the deciding factor. For instance, a boarding kennel will usually insist that a dog has been vaccinated against kennel cough (a C5 or C7 vaccination). In other cases the need will be dictated by where the animal lives and/or what it does. For example, we will always recommend that a working dog be given a C7 vaccination for protection against corona virus and leptospirosis, which is a nasty disease transmissible to humans.

To find out what level of protection and frequency is best for your particular pet you should fully discuss the question of vaccination with Dr Bek. Our in-house pathology facility allows us to test your pet to accurately design an immunisation regime that offers the best protection with minimum risk and cost.

At Alpine Animal Doctors our policy is to ensure that each individual pet receives the optimum protection consistent with keeping them healthy and avoiding potential side effects. We encourage our clients to ask as many questions as they need to be fully informed.

Vaccines for dogs:

  • C3 (core) = Parvovirus, distemper and infectious hepatitis
  • C4 = C3 + parainfluenza virus
  • C5 = C4 + Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • C6 =  C4 + corona virus and leptospirosis
  • C7 =  C5 + corona virus and leptospirosis.

Vaccines for cats:

  • F3 (core) = Feline parvovirus, feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus (the two viruses that cause feline respiratory disease)
  • F4= F3 + Chlamydophila felis
  • F5 = F4 + FeLV (feline leukaemia virus)
  • FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) can be optionally included in any of the above.

How often should I vaccinate?

For many years an annual booster vaccination was the standard for dogs and cats. More recently, as modern vaccines have become more and more effective, some studies have shown that an annual vaccination is not always necessary or desirable. Scientific research suggests that the duration of immunity (DOI) of many of the current vaccines varies, and may provide protection for considerably longer than twelve months.

Current guidelines suggest that, after the initial vaccination series and the one-year booster shot, in most cases core vaccines can be administered every three years (trienally) rather than annually. In some cases even less frequent vaccination may be appropriate. However, individual variations in the titre level and duration of antibodies can be extreme. The only way we can accurately determine if your pet has sufficient antibodies remaining from previous vaccinations is to run a titre test. We can do this in the hospital but it is unfortunately much more expensive than the vaccination itself.

We rely heavily on local factors, individual patient needs and the circumstances of the client to dictate what kind of vaccination is required and how often it should be repeated.

In most cases we continue to recommend an annual vaccination. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that although less frequent vaccination is often suggested as saving money for the pet owner, the reality is that the higher cost of a triennial vaccine  is such that the cost of vaccinating every three years is actually much the same as annual vaccinations.

Another is that the triennial guidelines apply only to core vaccines. The important non-core vaccines still require annual boosters.

Finally, and importantly, clients who feel their pet needs only the basic core vaccine and opt for the triennial vaccine means Dr Bek may only see your pet every three years. That is a very long time in animal years — roughly 20 years. For a dog or cat, three years is a very long time between check ups. It’s like you visiting your doctor for a check-up just once every two decades.

The degeneration of organs that can occur in three years is phenomenal, and often irreversible. Heart conditions, dental disease and kidney failure can often develop within a six-month period and, left untreated, to progress to the point where it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

If pets are seen yearly we can diagnose health issues so much easier and can often slow, if not reverse, some life-threatening conditions.

When you bring your pet into the hospital for that annual vaccination routine, those few minutes you and your furry friend spend in the consulting room are one of the most important aids to helping keep your pet healthy. We don’t just give your pet his or her vaccination. They get a thorough check up too, and it’s surprising how often we pick up latent diseases and/or symptoms that, treated early, can avoid far greater trauma and cost in the future. It’s also an opportunity for us to discuss with the owners any changes or anything out of the ordinary that may have occurred in the life of their pet which might point to underlying or developing health issues.

Our policy is to never over vaccinate and to always use current best practice based on all available research. We will fully discuss with you all of the pros and cons of the various immunisation options available to ensure you are fully informed.

Whether you decide on annual or triennial vaccines, the most important thing a caring owner can do is to make sure that your pet receives an annual check up at the hospital.

How much does it cost?

Cost varies depending on the level and frequency of the vaccination/immunisation program you choose for your pet.

In general, costs for annual vaccinations for dogs range from around $50 for a core C3 to around $100 for the C7 vaccines. When you think about vaccinations you need to weigh up the relatively low cost of regular protective measures against the likelihood of a fatal outcome and/or the much higher costs you would incur for emergency treatment should your pet contract one of the serious diseases vaccinations protect against.

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Alpine Animal Doctors
7047 Great Alpine Road
Porepunkah, VIC 3740
PO Box 393, Bright, VIC 3741
Phone: +61 03 5756 2444
Fax: +61 03 5756 2044