Vaccinations – what you need to know to make the best decisions for your canine companion
Vaccinations are designed to prevent your pet from contracting diseases. We have a few different vaccines available in NZ based on what diseases pose a risk to your dog.
DHP or DHPPi – There are several brand names for this vaccine that protects against multiple viruses. This vaccine protects your dog from Parvo virus, Distemper virus, Canine hepatitis and Parainfluenza virus. This is a core vaccine, which means it is essential that your pet is vaccinated with this, no matter where it is located in New Zealand – The two main/significant diseases this vaccine is preventing is Distemper and Parvo virus.
Vaccination has significantly reduced Distemper virus in New Zealand, but requires continued vaccination to prevent outbreaks occurring in unvaccinated populations of dogs. Parvo virus is still, and will likely always be, very prevalent no matter where you are in NZ. This virus lasts for years in contaminated soil, so unless your dog has been fully vaccinated, they are at risk of this often deadly virus. Parvo virus destroys the intestinal lining in your dog, resulting in a severely painful tummy, vomiting, anorexia and diarrhoea. Treatment is expensive, intensive and death is not uncommon. It’s just not worth it!
This vaccine is VERY effective, and once fully vaccinated as per our recommendations, it is almost impossible for your dog to pick up these diseases. What does fully vaccinated mean? That your puppy has had all of its puppy vaccines with the final one occurring at or after 16 weeks of age. They then require a booster at 12 months of age, and from there every 1-3 years, depending on the risk level for your pet as can be discussed with your vet.
Lepto (one strain or three strains) – This vaccine is to protect your dog from Leptospirosis. This is a bacterium they can pick up from urine and faeces of rats, pigs, sheep, cattle and deer. Leptospirosis is detected on nearly every farm in New Zealand and the different strains will live in their “host” animal (pigs or cows for example)without causing any issues, but if a dog contracts their strain, then this can cause kidney and liver failure. This can be life threatening, and if not treated soon enough, lead to irreversible kidney failure and sometimes death. We have two vaccines available, one covers a single strain (the most common strain that dogs contract), and one that covers the 3 most prominent strains on farms in NZ. Your vet will help to decide which is the most appropriate for your dog. Because of the different immune response created by this vaccine as opposed to the parvo virus– after its initial administration and booster in 4-6 weeks (no matter what the age of your dog is), it requires yearly vaccinations to be most effective. Any pet that loves playing in the rivers, lakes, romping around the farms or chasing after rats should be vaccinated. We can start this vaccine at any age – after the first vaccination, it requires a booster in 4-6 weeks, then yearly thereafter.
Kennel Cough – This vaccine is to aid in prevention of kennel cough – this is a contagious cough that dogs pick up from close contact with other dogs – hence kennels are a common place for dogs to pick this up. There are a number of different bacteria and viruses that can cause this cough. The vaccine contains the most common culprits – it is possible that your pet may pick up a strain not covered by the vaccine, or still get a slight cough despite vaccination. This vaccine is shorter acting, and offers best protection within 6 months of a “challenge” – and will reduce the severity and duration of the cough but not always prevent it occurring. Kennel cough (unless in a compromised or otherwise sick patient) is not life threatening and usually just requires rest and time to overcome, but sometimes your vet may need to prescribe antibiotics.
The vaccine that is most effective is given into the nostrils, so don’t be shocked if the vet vaccinates your pet in the nose!
Each pet is different and your veterinarian will work through a vaccination plan that suits your pet’s lifestyle and risk profile. Whatever their vaccination schedule, it is important to always have an annual health check.