Pet vaccinations for dogs, cats and rabbits
Pet vaccinations are a routine part of owning and looking after most types of pets. They protect your animal companion against a variety of serious, and even potentially fatal, diseases. Annual vaccinations also offer your vet the chance to give your pet a general check-up or 'health MOT', helping to pick up any early warning signs of illness.
Years ago, many pets became critically ill because of diseases which, thanks to vaccination, are now rarely seen -- but while these diseases are less common nowadays, they have not been completely eradicated. According to the RSPCA, if the number of pets protected by vaccines drops, our animal companions could be at risk from an outbreak of infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to humans.
Does pet insurance require up-to-date vaccinations?
- The vaccinations available vary from one type of animal to the next. Your vet will be able to advise you on which vaccinations are appropriate and recommended.
- If you keep vaccinations up-to-date, many pet insurance companies will use this as one of their rating factors – and it could help lower your insurance premiums.
- If you don't vaccinate, and then your pet falls sick with an illness that would have been prevented by a recommended vaccination, your insurance provider may refuse to pay out on any claims relating to that illness. Always read the small print to check what is required of you as an owner in terms of maintaining the health of your pet.
When does my pet need to be vaccinated?
For a short time after birth, puppies and kittens are usually protected from infections by their mother’s milk, as long as she has been regularly vaccinated. After a few weeks, however, they need vaccinations to keep them safe.
Puppies are usually vaccinated at eight and 10 weeks, and kittens at nine and 12 weeks. Rabbits can be vaccinated from six weeks. Your pet will then need a booster, usually 12 months after their first vaccination. Your vet will recommend how regularly your pet is vaccinated as it gets older, because this may vary depending on the prevalence of certain diseases in your area.
Which vaccinations does my pet need?
The specific vaccinations recommended will depend on the type of pet you own.
Dogs should be up-to-date with vaccinations against:
- Canine parvovirus: causes vomiting and diarrhoea, and can be fatal.
- Canine distemper virus: causes severe neurological symptoms, and can prove fatal.
- Leptospirosis: can cause kidney and liver damage.
- Infectious canine hepatitis: a liver infection.
- Kennel Cough: if your dog will spend any time in kennels, this protects against para-influenza virus and and bordetella bronchiseptica, which can cause kennel cough.
- Rabies: if your dog is travelling abroad, it will need need a rabies vaccination under the Pets Travel Scheme.
- Feline infectious enteritis: can cause acute vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Feline herpes virus: causes feline viral rhinotracheitis, or cat common cold.
- Feline calicivirus: causes respiratory problems.
- Feline leukaemia virus: the RSPCA says that only 'at risk' cats are recommended to have this vaccine – ask your vet for the most up-to-date information.
- Feline chlamydia: causes inflammation of feline conjunctiva, rhinitis and respiratory problems. This is usually recommended only for cats from breeders or boarding catteries.
- Myxomatosis: causes lumps around the head and genitals, possible blindness, loss of appetite and fever – and is fatal within 48 hours to 14 days.
- Viral haemorrhagic disease (or rabbit calicivirus disease): highly infectious and often fatal disease with a variety of potential symptoms including fever, squeals and coma.
How much do vaccinations cost, and will my pet insurance pay?
Vaccination costs vary from one vet to the next, and from one type of pet to another. As a guide, an initial course of puppy vaccinations may cost around £50, while the annual booster might cost about £30. Some pet insurance policies will cover some or all of the price, others will not - so read the terms and conditions when you compare quotes, before you commit to a policy.