All mammals derive immunity from the first milk (colostrum) they drink from their mothers. This maternal immunity wanes over a period of 12 weeks and so the susceptibility to disease increases over this time. Vaccination provides a means of priming the immune system to allow development of immunity against those diseases vaccinated against. The most susceptible age groups to disease are the young and the old.

Dog Vaccinations

Dogs receive three primary vaccinations, the first at 8-9 weeks and the second at 12 weeks of age, and the third at 16 weeks of age. The reason for the timing of the first vaccination is that the maternal immunity will have waned sufficiently to allow a small initial antibody response whilst at 12 weeks’ of age, the maternal antibodies will have waned sufficiently allowing the immune system to respond fully to the second vaccination. Earlier ending vaccination schedules do not always provide a good immunity.

Booster vaccinations thereafter are administered at the annual health examination at 12 month intervals. Boosting of “core vaccines” is generally only necessary every 2 years – the ‘core’ components include Parvovirus, Distemper and Infectious Hepatitis. ‘Non core’ components such as Leptospirosis, and infectious bronchitis (kennel cough) need annual boosting to provide sufficient immunity.

Boarding kennels usually request a kennel cough vaccination to minimise the chances of your dog contracting the disease. The intranasal vaccine we use is comprised of two components, Bordetella and Parainfluenza. Onset of immunity to Bordetella is 72 hrs post-vaccination whilst that for Parainfluenza is 3 weeks. It is therefore advisable to vaccinate your dog at least 3 weeks before boarding.

Infectious bronchitis or ‘kennel-cough’ can be caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. The most common isolated bacteria in the UK is Bordetella bronchiseptica.  Normal annual vaccines do not include protection against this bacteria. Both dogs and cats can suffer from infectious bronchitis.

Many dog owners have experienced their pets’ being troubled by infectious bronchitis and know the severity of coughing that is produced by this disease. The name ‘kennel-cough’ is a bit of a misnomer as, although it is more likely to spread within the confines of a kennelling establishment, it can be contracted from an affected dog meeting your dog in the street or park as it is transmitted through the air from a cough or a sneeze. Cats can contract the disease from affected dogs.

This disease can generally be prevented and at worst minimised by an annual vaccination. This involves instillation of a few drops of vaccine into the dog or cat’s nostril. The vaccine contains 2 components, Bordetella and canine parainfluenza virus and onset of immunity is from 72 hours for Bordetella and 3 weeks for the parainfluenza virus.

This vaccine unfortunately cannot be administered at the same time as your pet’s annual vaccination and it is recommended that we allow a two-week gap between the vaccines.

Cat Vaccinations

Cats receive two primary vaccinations, the first at 8-9 weeks of age and the second at 12 weeks of age. The vaccines used at Edgewood protect your cat against feline panleukopaenia (infectious enteritis), feline herpes virus, feline calicivirus and feline leukaemia virus. Further annual vaccinations are administered at your pet’s annual health examination. Feline panleukopaenia is an uncommon disease that causes a severe and often fatal gastroenteritis. Feline herpesvirus and calicivirus, often referred to as cat ‘flu, is a common disease in unvaccinated cats. Young cats will often succumb to the disease whereas older cats develop chronic upper respiratory tract disease. The vaccine against these two diseases is not as solid as for panleukopaenia and is used to reduce clinical signs and virus excretion.  Feline leukaemia virus causes a host of different diseases – essentially it reduces the immune system and is amongst the causes of a cancer called lymphoma. The immunity derived from this vaccine is good.

We do not routinely vaccinate against Chlamydophila felis as this tends to be more of a problem in rescue shelters. Nobivac BB vaccine is for the active immunisation of cats, of 1 month of age or older, to reduce clinical signs of Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) associated upper respiratory tract disease.

Rabbit Vaccinations

Rabbits are vaccinated against Myxomatosis from 6 weeks of age and booster vaccinations are administered every six months. Myxomatosis is a deadly poxvirus transmitted by blood sucking / biting insects, including infected fleas and mosquitoes. Viral haemorrhagic disease is an acute disease that generally kills within 24 -48 hours. We vaccinate against this disease from 6 weeks of age and repeat it annually. The Myxomatosis and Viral haemorrhagic disease vaccine is a combined vaccine.

Over the past year there has been an increasing concern regarding VHD “new variant 2” becoming a cause of deaths in several outbreaks in the UK. Whilst it has been noted in the UK in research papers (Westcott and Choudhury) for at least 2 years, it has clearly become a significant clinical entity in the past few months.

The new VHD vaccine is NOT a replacement for the current combination vaccine and will need to be given IN ADDITION to the Nobivac Myxo-RHD vaccine. It’s important to note that these vaccines CANNOT be given at the same time and need at least a 2-week gap between them.

In total, your rabbit will now require 2 vaccinations (comprising of 3 injections) per year:

  1. The combination vaccine– just one injection covers them for Myxomatosis and RHVD1 for 1 year.
  2. VHD2 vaccine  – 1 injection every 6 – 12 months. If you are breeding rabbits or have a rabbit rescue, then vaccination every 6 months is advised.  This covers them against RHVD2.

You need to leave AT LEAST 2 weeks’ gap between the different types of vaccines. If you can manage to schedule it so that there is a gap of 4-6 months between vaccines, then this would mean your rabbit would have a veterinary health check-up approximately every 6 months. BUT you don’t HAVE to work to this schedule, just make sure that there is at least 2 weeks between vaccines. The vaccine can be used from 10 weeks of age.

We are receiving the new vaccine in limited numbers monthly. The availability will be on a first-come, first-served basis. If you would like to protect your rabbit/s with the new vaccine, please contact any of our surgeries to make an appointment.

If your rabbit is vaccinated with the combination vaccine AND the new VHD2 vaccine, they will have been vaccinated against Myxomtosis, VHD1 and VHD2. As always, no vaccination is 100% effective and it does not mean your pet will not contract the disease. However, it does mean they have a chance to be treated and survive these normally fatal illnesses.

Please contact us at one of our veterinary surgeries in Maldon, Althorne or Purleigh to book an appointment for your pet today.


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