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Veterinary Group

Ask the Vet

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Are vaccinations necessary and safe?

Question: Firstly, as my dog is now 12 years old, do I need to keep up regular booster vaccinations? Secondly, there has been increasing concern about over-vaccination in the dog and cat world. As a dog owner am I putting my pet at risk by having him vaccinated at all?

Answer: Vaccine technology has broken new ground over recent years and in 2004 the UK was the first country in the world to offer dog owners a vaccine that protected dogs against Parvo virus, Hepatitis and Distemper for 3 years. There is however a weak link in the chain with the disease Leptospirosis. This life-threatening disease can be passed to humans (known as Weil's disease), affects the liver or kidneys, and is passed on via dog’s urine or rats. It is often seen in Sussex and unfortunately the dog booster still only provides a years protection. That is why an annual booster is still absolutely vital and it also provides an important opportunity for an all-over health check. Even if your dog is ‘housebound’, your garden can be visited by foxes and vermin who may spread these preventable diseases.

With regard to the issue of vaccine safety and 'over-vaccination' I mentioned above the recent advances in vaccine technology. This allows us to minimise the components in each booster injection whilst still maintaining complete protection for our pets. We now give a full dose of vaccine only once every 3 years and inject ‘smaller’ doses for years 2 and 3 to maintain protection principally against Leptospirosis. Just as importantly, an independent scientific study carried out by the world renowned Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, completed in 2004, provided absolutely clear-cut evidence that there is no association between routine vaccination and ill health.