Are vaccinations necessary? These diseases are so rare now...
In the UK, we’ve been really good at vaccinating our pets. As a result of this, many of the diseases that we can protect against have become less common. However, our UK-wide research shows that more pets are going unvaccinated, especially when young. Sadly, since 2014 there has also been a steady increase in reported cases of distemper and parvovirus in the UK. These diseases can be devastating for the dogs that catch them.
Vaccination is the only way to keep these diseases from becoming too widespread.
Will vaccinations make my pet ill? Are vaccinations safe?
Vaccinations are developed and produced under very strict safety rules. They can’t be sold unless they’ve been licensed and proved to be safe and effective in use. The benefits of getting your pet vaccinated far outweigh any risks as serious reactions to vaccinations are extremely uncommon.
Some pets may have small reactions to vaccines, usually in the form of a little bump where the injection went in or some soreness. This will usually go away within a few weeks. For full information on vaccine reactions in pets, visit our PetWise Pet Health Hub.
Do I need to vaccinate my pet if they never go outside?
Even if your rabbit or cat doesn’t get out and about, it’s very likely that you do! So we still recommend that you give your pet their vaccinations. Many diseases can survive for a long time in the environment. You or other visitors can bring infections into the house on shoes and clothes. If other animals go in and out of the house then they can bring in infections on their fur or on their paws.
Speak to your vet as they’ll take your pet’s individual situation into account and come up with a vaccination plan based on this.
Can my pet still get ill if they are vaccinated?
Many diseases are caused by different infections or strains but we can only vaccinate against the most common ones. This is much like the flu jab in humans, where the most common strains are protected against. When your pet has their vaccines, if they come into contact with a rarer strain of the disease they can still contract that strain, but usually have milder symptoms. This means they will need less treatment and will have a far higher chance of survival than an unvaccinated pet.
Is it true that puppies and kittens get all the antibodies they need from their mother's milk, so don't really need vaccinations?
A mother feeding her young will provide some protection for the first few weeks of their lives. Once they are weaned off her milk, this natural protection starts to fade after a few weeks. This is when they’ll need to be vaccinated.
It’s important to remember that if mum hasn’t been vaccinated herself, then they may not even have this early protection. Young pets’ immune systems are not fully developed until they are around six months old, so when they catch diseases at this age, they can be fatal.