Pet vaccinations are essential for good pet health

Pet vaccinations are where we flirt with the field of immunology , which is a scarey prospect so we will keep our discussion short and to the point.

Pet vaccinations are altered doses of an infectious agent that you give to your pet. The idea is that the dose is not big enough to cause an infection, but is big enough to get the body's immune response to activate. The immune system then "remembers" the infectious agent and is prepared to respond quickly should the real thing invade the body at a later stage.

Pet vaccinations are not a 100% guarantee that your pet will not get the disease it has been vaccinated against. There are numerous factors that can cause this protection to break down.Some of these reasons include an overwhelming dose of the infectious agent that swamps the body's immune system, poor storage and handling of the vaccine before it is administered, vaccine given to an already sick animal,vaccine given to an animal that is too young to respond, no booster vaccine given and so on - the list is endless and in fact there are so many things that can go wrong that it is a wonder that we get such a good response from most vaccines.

Most pet vaccinations need a second, and sometimes third, vaccination over a shortish period of time (ausually at 4-6 week intervals) to establish a solid immunity.Thereafter, "booster" vaccinations are given to maintain the immunity. The timing of these booster vaccinations varies by vaccine and species and it is best to get a detailed vaccination plan for your pet from a veterinarian.

Listed below are diseases that various companies have managed to develop pet vaccines for. Many of these may be included in a single dose of vaccine e.g. a "six-in-one" vaccine. Remember also that not all these vaccinations will apply - there will be some variation with geographical location. For example, Rabies does not occur in all countries and hence there will be some countries where a rabies vaccine will not be used.


Canine Distemper,Infectious Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Coronavirus, Parainfluenza virus, Rabies, Leptospirosis,Bordetella


Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus, Feline Calici Virus,Feline Leukaemia Virus, Feline Infectious Peritonitis Feline Panleukopenia, Rabies.

Pigeons and Cage Birds

Avian Pox, Newcastle Disease Virus.

More on vaccinations...

The really tricky bit with most pet vaccinations is how long after birth should the first vaccine be administered. Mother nature, in the normal course of events, gives the new born a degree of protection (called maternal immunity) against some diseases by transferring antibodies from the mother, through the milk, to the young when they suckle immediately after birth. Not all of the offspring (assuming more than one is born) will get the same "dose" of antibodies and so the length of time that they are protected by these maternal antibodies varies from individual to individual.

Now if you remember, we said that a vaccine is a small and/or modified dose of an infection. The very young do not have a functional immune system and thus rely on their acquired maternal immunity to protect them against disease - which includes vaccinations!So if you give the vaccine too early, then the maternal immunity "kills" the vaccine and because the youngster's own immune system is not well developed, it will not "remember" the infection in the future. So effectively, that individual has no protection against the disease it was vaccinated against.

However, give the vaccine too late and the maternal immunity has worn off (this can vary from say 4 to maybe 12 weeks after birth) and the young animal will have a period of time during which it is not protected against the disease.

In designing a vaccination programme therefore, one has to take these factors into account. This is why most pet vaccinations given early in life are repeated several times so as to ensure that (1) any interference by the maternal immunity is overcome and (2) The immune system is mature enough to mount a response.

The immune system really is a very tricky place to go with many factors playing a role in each individuals ability to mount a response to an infection. This is why getting the basics of pet health right is so important - it gives the immune system the best chance to overcome any attack on the body.