The decision owners and vets face nowadays when it comes to vaccinating our pets has changed dramatically from 10+ years ago. The fear of vaccination-associated reactions seems to be more of an issue for many people compared to the serious diseases we’re trying to vaccinate against.
In the UK, the prevalence of adverse reactions is as low as 0.064% and it is important to remember that vaccinations provide the most effective preventative action against these serious diseases.
The guidelines provided for administering vaccinations are non-compulsory but are based upon current scientific thinking and therefore are thought to provide the best outcome for our dogs’ welfare, herd immunity and also human welfare as they can play a role in preventing zoonoses.
Core and Non-core Vaccines
According to the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) there are 4 main diseases being targeted by core vaccinations in the UK:
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
Canine Parvovirus (CPV)
Canine Adenovirus (CAV)
There are also ‘non-core’ vaccinations that are advised for dogs being exposed to certain unique situations. For example, being in kennels - it is advised you have the ‘Kennel Cough’ vaccination.
See the following links for more information on the diseases mentioned above:
It can be said that the Leptospira vaccine is not a core vaccination as it does not exist in some parts of the world (WSAVA guidelines suggest) so its use depends on veterinary advice within different parts of the UK.
Puppy Vaccination Regime
See the following link for the WSAVA guidelines and note the ages of puppies when they should be vaccinated.
An example UK vaccination regime is shown below.
DHP = Nobivac which vaccinates against CDV, CAV, CPV.
CPi/Bb = Kennel Cough vaccine.
The DHP vaccination is then required as a booster no more than every 3 years (this is the same timescale as the rabies vaccine, should the dog be travelling) whilst the Leptospira and Kennel Cough vaccine needs to be given every year.
There is some conflicting advice between the broad guidelines provided by the WSAVA and the ‘Summary of Product Characteristics’ (SPCs) provided by the drug manufacturers to explain how an individual product should be used so there really is no correct answer to exactly what age vaccinations should be given. Instead, it is down to your veterinary surgeon to assess the type of environment your dog will be faced with and make a judgement call from that upon exactly which vaccinations should be used and when.
The differences in advice are based on some research stating that the vaccinations against CDV (Distemper) for example can be effective for up to 4 years before a booster is needed, but according to WSAVA guidelines these boosters should be given one year after the initial vaccination.
There is much debate over whether to give the Lepto 2 or Lepto 4 vaccine. The newer Lepto 4 vaccine protects dogs against 2 additional strains of the Leptospira disease that have been identified as an area of concern for higher risk groups of dogs or those travelling abroad. It can also be said that Lepto 2 still provides a suitable cover for most dogs, it just depends on what you, as an owner, and your vet think is the most appropriate vaccine to give for your dog.
There is an increasingly popular option in most vet practices of ‘titre’ testing. This is a blood test which analyses the levels of antibodies against CDV, CAV and CPV hence determining whether the dog being tested is protected against those diseases or not. If the result is positive, there is no need for revaccination at that time and this could save money in the long run if your dog is already adequately protected.